Actor, musician, and now even writer. Val Emmich is nearing very closely to triple threat status. It seems like there’s nothing that this New Jersey native can’t do. With a new album in the works and the film Fighting Fish soon to be released, there’s much too look forward to. His last album, Little Daggers was an amalgam of heart, soul, and brutal truth. His music a reflection of the most raw and tangible human emotions. Everything Emmich does seem to reek with an impassioned frailty, whether it’s his live performances, acting, or writing. Nothing of what he does is ever done half-heartedly. Quite the contrary. His music seems to hold a magnetic immediacy, as though he’s cutting open a vein and allowing us to see him bleed the passion out of him onstage.
Many may recall him from his various TV appearances in hit shows such as Ugly Betty, 30 Rock, Cashmere Mafia, and Hope and Faith. But each of those shows gave him the limited role of “love interest” of the protagonist, not giving him the opportunity to fully demonstrate his acting range. Fighting Fish, an indie film directed by Annette Apitz that centres around Emmich’s character and that of Anna Moore’s who plays his sister in the film, and their very strange and at times creepily claustrophobic relationship. The challenging new role will be a step up from his usual acting gigs, that will allow the public to take notice of his acting than to merely gaze at his cute rocker intellectual looks, something that his limited roles in the past rendered to.
With so many new projects underway, it’s only natural to want to get to know him a little better, and see what is truly hiding behind the
Which medium do you feel more at home with, music or acting?
“If I had to choose one I guess I would choose music. But I don't see my life as one or the other. In fact, most of my time nowadays is spent writing fiction.”
Soon your film Fighting Fish will be out. What compelled you to partake this project considering the film centres around a very controversial relationship between your character and that of actress Anna Moore?
“I thought it was a well-written script and an attractive and challenging role. The more controversial the better.”
Your live shows are always very impressive, full of passion and raw emotions. How important is it to try to make a connection with the audience?
“It is the most important thing. Without that, I get quite down. If I lose the audience for even a second, I sometimes fall into a sort of depression right there on stage. It's probably evidence of some extreme narcissism on my part but that's the way it is. I don't feel that I'm doing my job unless I can get people invested emotionally.”
Usually they state that an author’s debut novel is heavily autobiographical. How much of you is in your unreleased novel ‘A Break in the Weathers’?
“’’Weathers’ utilizes a bunch of people from my life but I would say the lead character is roughly 30-40% me. However, since finishing my second novel, I think that I'll do what many people do with their debut and that is stick in a drawer and never look at it again. The new one is much better."
What are your top three songs at the moment?
“To listen to? Hmm, haven't been listening to music much lately. I wouldn't even know where to start.”
Many musicians seem to have rituals of sorts before going onstage for a show. Do you have any and what are they?
“Normally, I just like to be alone with my ipod and a glass of red wine.”
Was there a specific band or song that made you feel like you wanted to become a musician yourself?
A lot of your song lyrics read like poems. Have you ever thought about putting poems into music? A few years ago Lou Reed used Edgar Allan Poe’s poetry as lyrics to his songs. Would you ever consider doing something of the sort?
“First off, thank you. I think it's an interesting approach to try out but my knowledge of poetry is limited. I'm a fan of prose myself. I could see trying to stuff a line from a novel in a song.”
Despite the various temptations, it seems like you’ve always stayed true to yourself and your music, even to the point of walking away from Sony. Have you ever regretted that or do you feel that following your vision of how your music should be executed is the best way to remain true to your art, rather than giving the big music labels the more “disposable but easy hits” they lust after?
“This business, like life, is about talent, perseverance and luck. I can only control the first two. If Sony had pushed one of the songs I had given them, perhaps my life would have been different and I would have stayed there. But they didn't even try. They looked at what was working at radio and decided my songs didn't fit with the current trend. That kind of timing is out of my hands. Big labels work if you're lucky. They aren't inherently evil. They can be tremendously powerful tools if you are one of the lucky ones. I keep writing the music I want to no matter what label I'm on. My last album was perhaps the poppiest, most commercial thing I've ever released and I was on a tiny indie. It's my job to write and perform, the label's job to sell me. All I ask is that they do their job. Sadly, that's often too much to ask.”
How do you feel about living in a world that seems to salute random nobodies with no talent simply for showing up in realities? Do you think that shows like that manage to kill real talent giving space to those who have none?
“I am extremely perturbed by this. I just saw a show on NBC titled People Of the Year and most were entertainers. People like Susan Boyle and Taylor Swift. To me, spending an hour on these kinds of figures is shameful when there are people actually helping the world who get no attention. It's not even about talent per se. It's about the over-significance we place on performers in general. It says a lot about a culture when its heroes are entertainers and athletes. I wish we spread the applause more evenly across all fields, i.e. medicine, science, sociology, etc.”
Lately, you seem really caught up in your writing. What about the writing process do you particularly enjoy? Is there an author that you’re particularly fond of?
“I like the discipline involved with writing and the solitary nature. In general, I like telling stories, whether it be in music, acting or fiction. The list of writers who I enjoy is too long to list here, but I particularly enjoy Nabokov, Delillo, Eggers and George Saunders.”
Creative, even when it comes to his videos, with a unique sound, Emmich’s music is something to take notice, although the new year promises us lots of reasons for us to take notice of this highly talented individual.