Artist of the Month: Val Emmich



I remember when I first heard of Val Emmich. It was 2003 and I was a junior at Rutgers. My friend Lauren asked me if I wanted to go see a show in the city featuring this guy who was brothers with her boyfriend’s roommate. I hadn’t heard any of his music, but being the music adventurer I am, I decided to check out the show. I was blown away by the performance of this singer/song writer and was soon hooked on his album Slow Down Kid that we got with the ticket purchase.

While he may be more recognized for his acting stints on TV shows “Ugly Betty” and “30 Rock,” Val Emmich has a notable and an unparalleled musical talent that should truly be recognized. The combination of his charismatic and salacious deep vocals along with poignant, expressive lyrics is a magnetism that will strike a chord with your emotions.

The NJ native emerged on the scene in the late nineties while a student at Rutgers University where he fronted the band Ben Trovato known as Matt Emmich. After a few years he parted ways with the band and became a solo artist using his birth name, Val. Playing shows around Asbury Park, Hoboken, Jersey City, and NYC he has become a fixture of the NY/NJ music scene.

This past September, Emmich released his latest album Looking For A Feeling You Never Knew You Needed as a digital release. The idea for the album came together after meeting Ron Haney and Bart Schoudel of The Churchills at their Long Branch NJ home and basement studio where they were producing Rick Barry’s album on which Emmich was singing back up vocals.

Each song delivers something different while still maintaining an effortless flow from one track to the next. Whether it is the delightful, catchy pop rhythms and guitar licks on songs like “Don’t Wanna Go” or the inclusion of piano melodies on “Come Clean” and “E.S.T,” Val Emmich has created a new sound all the while maintaining his musical originality. From beginning to end, this album fails to disappoint.

Eat Sleep Breathe Music writer, Alison caught up with Val Emmich to find out more about his new album, how he interactes with his fans, and acting.

ESBM: Tell us about the inspiration for your new album, Looking For A Feeling You Never Knew You Needed.

VE: The making of every album is a learning experience and this was no different. After my last album, Little Daggers, I felt disillusioned with music for the second time in my life. By teaming up with some new people, I was once again reminded that music provides me with something I haven’t been able to find anywhere else in my life. For me, the album and title has to do with pushing your limits. Searching for answers. Searching for comfort, happiness, all the big things people want out of life. And musically, it was about experimentation and trying out a new process. It was very rewarding and fun and I think it shows somehow in the music.

ESBM: This album is only available as a digital release, can you tell us why?

VE: I don’t have a label paying for physical packaging so it made monetary sense to just make it available as a digital release. It pains me as an old-fashioned music fan, but the reality is that’s how most people consume music nowadays. Perhaps in the coming months it will be released on CD or vinyl as well. I have already designed the packaging so I hope I get a chance to use it.

ESBM: You have many talents: musician, actor, writer; is there one you prefer more than the others?

VE: All of them help me cope with life. Some spiritually and some in a more practical way. I like having all of them in my life. There are things I like about each. If I ever became hugely successful with one thing, perhaps that would take the lead in my life. But until I’m forced to choose between them, I don’t wish to.

ESBM: Your very creative and interactive with your fans on your website and we loved your podcasts with your sister and manager, what gave you the idea to start podcasting?

VE: Boredom. Restlessness. Trying to figure out why I can’t seem to reach a larger audience. “Perhaps I need to let people into my life more?” That was the thought process. Who knows if it’s working. I don’t know how long it will last. But it has been fun. And that counts for something.

ESBM: You were the first unsigned artist ever to appear on MTV’s Total Request Live, that is pretty amazing – can you tell us a little about how that opportunity happened?

VE: In 2003, I had released my first full length album, Slow Down Kid, and had already shot a music video for the first single, “Shock.” MTV liked the video and selected me to appear on their show Advanced Warning in which they showcased up-and-coming artists. They shot the interview for that show at the video shoot for the album’s second single, “Privacy Attracts A Crowd.” So they were already sort of invested in the video through mere association. From there it was just a matter of them saying, “Hey, I think this kid could work on TRL too.” They liked the video, so they aired it on TRL as part of a segment they were running called Pre-RL, in which they highlighted artists that weren’t on their fan-requested charts yet but might be in the future.

ESBM: The music industry has changed so much, do you have any advice for the struggling unsigned artists?

VE: Oh man. I wish. I really do. I have no idea what I’m doing. I don’t think anyone does. It’s such a strange time where success stories are few and far between and they don’t seem to follow a pattern. I really just try to focus on the art. It’s the only thing you can control so you better make it as good as it can possibly be.

ESBM: Who are some of your favorite artists right now (signed/unsigned/indie)?

VE: Recently I like The National, Sleigh Bells, Vampire Weekend, Wavves, Maps & Atlases, Good Old War and Arcade Fire‘s latest. As far as unsigned artists, I love Rick Barry and Allie Moss; Allie sang a duet with me on my new album. The song is called “Convince Me.”

ESBM: Did you find you got more exposure from your TV appearances on shows like “Ugly Betty” and “30 Rock”?

VE: Of course. TV is more powerful than any other medium. More powerful than film and music and books. It brings you right into people’s homes and it’s the last truly communal experience where millions of people can train their eyes on the exact same thing at the exact same time (DVR excluded). I get noticed more for those shows than for anything else I’ve done and it’s certainly made more people aware of my music. For that I am thankful.

ESBM: You recently filmed a Macys’ holiday commercial featuring P Diddy, Jennifer Lopez, Donald Trump, Martha Stewart, Jessica Simpson, Tommy Hilfiger & Rachel Roy, did you meet any of them?

VE: Yes, I met and worked with every single one of them. Jennifer Lopez was my favorite. A sweet and genuine person, which was surprising to me for some reason. The others, not so much.

ESBM: Your songs “If They Come Again” and “Just To Feel Alive Again” appeared on two episodes of the Jersey Shore this season. How do you feel about that?

VE: It’s great exposure. Some of my friends seem more excited about my songs appearing on Jersey Shore than anything else I’ve done. I guess I’m out of the loop.

ESBM: Do you watch the Jersey Shore? I understand “The Situation” is from your hometown of Manalapan, NJ did you go to school with him?

VE: No, I don’t watch the show. That’s not because I’m above it. I’m a fan of mindless junk TV, as much as I hate myself for it. Yes, I did go to school with “The Situation” and his older brother. I don’t recall interacting with either of them. But that’s not saying much. I don’t remember much about high school.

Catch Val Emmich this week at The Studio @ Webster Hall for his record release show Thursday, October 7th. For more information check out his official website and get his album Looking For A Feeling You Never Knew You Needed now on iTunes!

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