Val Emmich, the first unsigned singer to appear on MTV's "TRL", will be playing Jesse, Betty's beau-to-be in 3.07 episode of the award-winning, primetime show "Ugly Betty". He is also going to explore his acting talent on independent movie, "Fighting Fish". However, his main line of work is in music.
His latests album titled "Little Daggers" has been released on September 23 in the U.S. Opting to produce and engineer the record himself and play a majority of the instruments, Emmich wants to draw "listeners close with great pop melodies and playful arrangements while a penetrating lyrical story unfolds underneath."
To AceShowbiz, Emmich exclusively bares what makes him jumping into music scene, his idea to have fun on all his music videos, some of which have been praised with positive critique, as well as his idea to explore his acting career.
ASB: Going back a little, you were diagnosed with Lyme Disease at a very young age. What do you say change much after that?
Emmich: For one, I finally learned how to play my guitar. I was always a big music fan from a very early age and I took piano and saxophone lessons growing up. But I hated practicing and eventually quit those instruments. I also I loved sports. I had asked my parents for an acoustic guitar and they bought me a cheap one, but I never played it. I was too impatient to learn how. That changed sophomore year of high school when I was unable to play on the school soccer team that season because of Lyme. So I picked up the guitar again and finally learned, because I had nothing but time on my hands. I was forced to be patient. I had to have medicine dripped through my arm three times a day and couldn't do much else. I still hate practicing though. That hasn't changed. And I never went back to organized sports. From that point on, it was music.
ASB: Your music videos have been constantly praised for their artistic content, even "Privacy Attracts a Crowd" that was shot while you were unsigned. What is your basic idea of making one?
Emmich: My main goal is to do something that I personally haven't done before and also to make myself entertained. I think the more an artist trusts him or herself, the better the art is. And I've been working with the same video director for years now and he's one of my best friends. Our main aim is to please ourselves and to make ourselves proud. Specifically though, I like videos that don't take themselves too serious and are playful. I think you'll notice in all my videos, with the exception of "This Ship's Going Down" from "Sunlight Searchparty", all my videos have a touch of humor in them. And that particular video was the only video that I didn't do with my friend but with someone else. I think it's also important not to tell a literal translation of the story behind a song but to capture the essence of it. For example, my latest video for "Get on with It" is not about literally running through an obstacle course, but emotionally, it is exactly that.
ASB: Post leaving Epic, do you find the kind of freedom you achieve through signing to an indie label like Bluehammock Music?
Emmich: No, I don't. I guess I am more free in some ways, but the minute someone puts money behind you they are going to want things done a certain way. It's part of what you give up--the control. And you hopefully give that up for something of equal value in return. The truth is, I just hate giving up the control. No matter who it is.
ASB: What are your takes on the album "Little Daggers", comparing it to "Sunlight Searchparty"?
Emmich: They are completely different in every way. "Sunlight Searchparty" is an hour of music, while Little Daggers is exactly half that. Not only are there less songs, but the songs themselves are shorter and more concise and that's the essential difference between the two. For "SS", I wanted everything to feel organic and authentic. We recorded it live as a band and we strove to make each performance sound like you, the listener, were right there in the room with us. For Little Daggers, I recorded it on my own with my drummer in a little room in his house and I put as many layers on the song as possible. My goal was to pack a lot of punch in a little space and have plenty of ear candy for people to catch on multiple listens. "Sunlight Searchparty" was a slow build that requires time to grow while Little Daggers hits you over the head immediately.
ASB: What is on the agenda in support of the album? A nationwide tour maybe?
Emmich: When my obligations with "Ugly Betty" are completed, then yes, a national tour. Otherwise, the norm--press, video, marketing, etc.
ASB: Once you regard casting a musician for a TV show or a movie "doesn't ring true" to you, but what made you decide on taking the singing role in "Ugly Betty"?
Emmich: It was inoffensive to me. "Ugly Betty" is not a show that is attempting to 'ring true' in anyway. It's over the top and exaggerated. The emotion is certainly there but the plots and the characters are overdone on purpose. This seemed to me harmless. I'm offended when a show or film attempts to be realistic and it feels unnatural. "Ugly Betty" doesn't do that. It seemed like it would be fun.
ASB: How would you say, taking the role of Betty's love interest in replacement of the previous two, Henry and Gio?
Emmich: If you are asking me how I felt about that, I would say nervous. It's a daunting task and in some ways winless, because those two characters were really loved. I don't look forward to the backlash, but hopefully I can win some people over.
ASB: Any scoop regarding how your character will last in the show?
Emmich: Not really. All I can say is that it is different than what you saw with Henry and Gio.
ASB: What can you dish out on your first film project "Fighting Fish"?
Emmich: It's about a twenty-one year old guy who is forced to take care of his young step-brother and step-sister because his mother is in a mental hospital and his father is dead. So he's got more responsibility than he's ready for and his own dreams are sort of bottled up inside him. Eventually, he blows. It's a bit like "What's Eating Gilbert Grape". Not plot wise but similar thematic idea. I had a ton of fun on that film. I would say that was the point at which I fell in love with acting as an art. Getting to develop and evolve a character over an hour and a half of screen time was an amazing thrill and a great challenge.
ASB: Any interest in taking another big screen role in the future? What would you like to portray if you get a chance?
Emmich: My goal is to do more film. I want to take roles that are far away from what I am in my normal life. That's what an actor wants. He doesn't want to play himself. I want to test my limits as an actor and as a human.
ASB: If you have to pick your number one passion, will it be singing or acting?
Emmich: Hard to say. It might not be either. I also recently completed my first novel and I really enjoy that too and plan on pursuing that wholeheartedly. I like the fact that writing is not something that is visual. Those other things - acting and singing - are image-based and I look forward to a time when I don't have to be judged by my face. With writing, you can be old, toothless, gray and fat and still write as long as you have your wits about you.
ASB: Off the spotlight, what do you usually like to do to kill the time?
Emmich: Cook, read, watch sports, hang with friends, think about things I should be doing.
ASB: Any message you would like to deliver to your fans out there?
Emmich: Thank you for caring about what I have to say.