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Hi Val! I just wanted to know if when you are writing or in the creative process do you become an insomniac? This tends to happen to me because I just want to finish everything in one day/night which does not work out in the end because I tend to be sleepy at my day job, hahaha. - Abigail

Asked by

Not so much an insomniac, but restless for sure and definitely less sleep. That’s how I know I’m onto something, when I get possessed and obsessed. Ideas and corrections start invading my dreams and I’ll wake up super early just to get back to work. I find myself drinking a lot more at night just to calm myself down. (I’m going through all of this right now by the way!) But that’s the best part—when you’re in the frenzy of creating. After it’s finally done, there’s a big letdown.

Q&A: Those Who Sell, Coffee Talk & The Question of New Music

michaelhbf asked you: I read this on the Humans of New York blog and I felt like I’ve heard you say something similar before. Maybe. What do you think about this? - “I’ve been making music my whole life, but I have the hardest time selling myself. And selling yourself is necessary if you want to be a successful artist. I can play something amazing, and I can say: ‘That’s just how I like it.’ But then I always lose my confidence, and say: ‘But who am I? And why does it matter what I like?”

VE: Pretty close to how I feel. It doesn’t only pertain to music, either. It goes for my whole existence as a human. There are so many of us and what makes any one of us worth paying attention to or valuing over another? For better or worse, my belief is that I’m nothing. We’re all nothing. We’re just sharing space on this spinning piece of matter with all these other life forms. We’re temporary and fragile and we need to show some humility and kindness and compassion while we’re stuck here together. When that’s your starting point for facing the day, it’s hard to get out there, flex your muscles and sell yourself, because you feel like a goddamn liar. Someone will say: But everyone’s lying, so who cares? I care. What good comes from selling? I’d rather be making.

Anonymous asked you: What is Wayne Dorrell up to? Any plans to collaborate with him again?

VE: For those who don’t know, Wayne produced a few of my early albums and has also played in a few iterations of my band. I have no idea what he’s up to. He’s a pretty antisocial dude. I love him to death but getting him to answer phone calls and email is really difficult. I’d love to record with him again someday. We always have fun together and he always contributes something unique to my songs.

Anonymous asked you: Hi Val! I was just wondering what your favorite coffee place is. Do you like places like Starbucks? Do you like brewing your own? Any hidden gems out there in Jersey? Personally, I haven’t been to many coffee shops, but I definitely love my Trenta Iced Coffee with a splash of nonfat milk and 2 Equal from Starbucks. It’s my poison. What’s your usual order?

VE: Black coffee is what I drink 99% of the time. Sometimes if I’m out to dinner I’ll order a double espresso. I never add milk or cream or sugar. That said, I have gotten into Bulletproof coffee which is a coffee recipe that includes coconut oil and grass fed butter. It’s good for energy, digestion and weight loss (I know that sounds counterintuitive, but you can research it. Works for me.) If I have to order an iced coffee, I’ll ask them to leave out the ice, because I don’t want the ice melting and watering down the taste. Sometimes that means drinking an iced coffee that’s pretty lukewarm.
    At home, I usually brew coffee through a regular drip machine. Or else I’ll use a French press or my newest toy, an Aero press.
    My favorite coffee is ModCup, which is a local roastery and shop here in Jersey City heights. If I’m on the road and there’s a Dunkin Donuts right in front of me and a Starbucks twenty miles away, I’ll wait the twenty miles. I’m not sure if that’s me speaking highly of Starbucks or lowly of DD. So be it.

Anonymous asked you: Are you single? Do you have a girlfriend or boyfriend? (its 2014 I have to ask the boyfriend part)

VE: I have lots of girl and boy friends.

Anonymous asked you: When Val isn’t creating art i.e. music, books etc .. what is he doing? working a 9-5? walking the dog? feeding his family? sleeping?

VE: I’m never not creating art. If I go one day without putting a little bit of work into a project, I get anxious and depressed. So most of my free time goes to art in some form and I work hard to make that free time, even if it means setting my alarm for 4:45am to get a few hours in before the world wakes up. I need it for my sanity. (I’ve been working on one massive project for a solid year now and a bunch of other little ones.) But other than that, I’m always trying to find work so my family doesn’t starve and I can pay the bills. Work, for me, is what it has been ever since I was in college: acting. If I’m not actually acting on a job at the moment, I’m looking for something to work on. I go on auditions every week, which is something work-related, except you don’t get paid for it. I’m currently shooting a commercial, which is going to take up my next two weeks. This picture might seem charmed to some, but it comes at a price. It’s a fragile existence. It’s an unstable and sometimes scary life, but it’s the path I went down and at this point it’s hard to hop on another track. I’ve got a daughter and a dog, so that keeps me plenty busy and plenty worried, too.

Anonymous asked you: Simple question with what I am guessing is a complex answer. Can we expect new music this year and if so any surprises you can share?

VE: I change my mind every week. I have some new music recorded that I’m excited about. But music has recently taken a back seat in my life to some other artistic pursuits. I’ve always put music first. That’s my instinct. But I’m at the point where I’d like to put my energy into other things and see how those things play out. I’ve taken music as far as I can on my own, in terms of a career, so I’m less inclined to put my precious time into it, when I feel like I already know what’s going to come of it. (This goes back to Question #1: I’m talking about the selling, not the making). That said, yes, eventually I would like to get this new music out in some form and I hope it will happen this year. Actually, I’m confident it will happen. That’s all I can say at the moment.

Avant gardener

courtney barnett • how to carve a carrot into a rose

This song has been playing on repeat for hours as I sit here at my computer and write. Lets my mind go far away……

what kind of melancholy did this christmas/new year bring?

Asked by

No melancholy this year! Twas warm and cozy. I learned not to shoot so high and thus no letdowns.

Q&A: My Russian Story, Web Show Videos & The Boys From Shock

Anonymous asked you: Just wanted to share something with you. A few weeks ago I was speaking to a female coworker about music. we began comparing our indie tastes and our mutual affection for male and female singer/songwriters when she brought up this guy who she discovered while going through a break up. She then grabbed her iPhone and said “let me play this for you, i think you will really like it”, “The guy’s name is Val Emmich (EMMI”CH”) and the song is called Tenderest" :) thought you’d like that. -Randy

VE: Yes, I love that! I’m wondering how you reacted to that pronunciation. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous asked you: Val, tell more about your Russian ancestry. Who was Russian in your family, from what city, and do you speak language?

VE: No, I don’t speak Russian. My father can speak it and does speak it with his sisters. The story is convoluted. Here’s the gist. My father’s father (my grandfather Eugene) moved with his family from Germany to pre-Stalin Russia. Eugene’s father was murdered by men from the government. Eugene’s mother, a doctor, sent him to Vladivostock to live with an uncle because she was concerned about his safety. When Eugene returned to Moscow years later, his mother was dead. Eugene studied piano at the Moscow Conservatory. Then, through an apparent misunderstanding, he was sent to a work camp in Siberia. When he was set free years later, he was scared to return to Moscow, so he traveled south where he met my grandmother (a born Russian) in Minsk and they married. When WWII broke out, they were both placed in a German labor camp. When the war ended, my grandparents were freed by the Allies and put in temporary housing in Germany, where my father was born. The family was then sent through a lottery system to New York.

I’ve written about this before in my fiction, but I haven’t released any of it yet. It’s a pretty fascinating story and I want to do it justice. I haven’t gotten it quite right.

Anonymous asked you: this isn’t a question… but I had to share…I had a dream last night about your Dec 7 show (guess I am excited?) During the video broadcast, you brought out your daughter to sit in the audience, but she was wearing a mask like the ones Michael Jackson used to put on his kids in public. Funny, right?

VE: Maybe not so funny. I’m not sure. But your dream was sorta right. I did bring out my daughter. Thanks to all who watched! For those who missed the web show, I plan to release a video or two in the new year. Stay tuned. And in the meantime, subscribe to my YouTube channel so you automatically get notified when new videos go up.

Anonymous asked you: I recently found the “Shock” music video disc I had from all those years ago. I put it in my computer and it was awesome just like I remembered it. Of course it is on YouTube but it just felt better playing it with a disk. Anyways, my question is “What has become of the people that were playing behind you in the video/ the people in the video?”

VE: Rob Fitzgerald still plays bass with me in The Veeries. At the time of the video shoot, he wasn’t even in my band. He was in his own band, Hero Pattern, but he was doing me a favor by filling in for the video. He played bass on two songs on the original Slow Down Kid, but “Shock” wasn’t one of them. The drummer, Eric Micali, played with me for years and appears on most of my albums. He’s living in Florida now and started up a business called Beat Lobby where he records drums for people’s audio projects. And the guitarist, Anthony Bianco, toured with me until 2005 and now lives in Los Angeles. He’s a hard guy to get in touch with, but we did hang last time I was there.

Anonymous asked you: val, have you ever recorded any Christmas songs? thanks, maryintexas39

VE: No, I haven’t. And I don’t plan to, either. I just don’t feel like I have much to add. But never say never.

By the way….Merry Christmas to those who celebrate. And Happy New Year to anyone who celebrates that. I’m not sure I do.

Borrow Your Eyes (Acoustic)

Val Emmich • Ton Papa

I rarely spend time listening to my own music. But sometimes I’ll come across a song I’ve done, usually by accident, and it’s like looking through a book of old photographs. It’s shocking, that that’s you. You remember, you remember being there, but you haven’t thought about it since it happened, until now, and it hits you like a truck.

I wrote this for my daughter. Everyone needs someone or something in their lives that shows them the bright side.

This was an outtake from Aide Memoire. There’s a full band version, too.

20% Off VE Art & New “Gift” Music Option

Looking for a last minute gift idea for that (soon-to-be) VE fan in your life? Twenty 20 is offering 20% off my stuff. You can purchase my Instagram photos on ready-to-hang canvas, T-shirts, magnets, pillows and more at twenty20.com/valemmich. Just use promo code VALEMMICH.

My gallery includes performance photos and album artwork, amongst other random stuff.

Also, you can now send any of my albums or tracks on Bandcamp as a gift. Just click “Send as Gift” (below the Buy Now link), enter the recipient’s email address, add an optional personal message, and then check out as always. Your friend will get an email containing a link to the high-quality download, as well as instant, unlimited mobile access to the music via the free Bandcamp app.

This applies to music on the following albums/releases:

Pre-Show Checklist & After Show Details


Tickets still available here. The show begins at 8:00PM EST and will last until 8:50pm.

One more day to go until the big show. And I do mean big (biggish, at least). We put a lot of work into turning it into something worth watching. So the worst thing would be for your computer or internet connection to mess the whole thing up.

Here’s a quick list of things you can do before the show starts to make sure you’re getting the full experience.

Ensure you have the latest version of your browser.

If not, click below to download one of our recommended browsers:

Check your internet speed.

  • Test your connection speed at www.speedtest.net.
  • For Viewers, StageIt suggests a download speed of 3Mbps or higher. Less than this can impact the experience, creating issues with either or both the video/audio stream and the chat.
  • If you have the choice, your best bet is to connect directly to your modem with an ethernet cable, rather than watch over WiFi.

Ensure you have the latest version of Adobe Flash.

Stageit shows are presented in Flash Player. See if you have the latest version.

No Mobile Devices

Remember…you cannot watch on mobile devices like iPhones or iPads because they don’t support Flash.

So…if you don’t have the recommended setup, upgrade ASAP or head to a friend’s house. I don’t want you to miss out!

Hope you enjoy the show.

After Show Details

If you’re hoping to be one of the Top 10 Supporters and get a chance to watch and/or listen to the After Show, you will need to have the latest version of Skype installed on your computer or mobile device. It’s a free download here. If you already have it, make sure you’re running the latest version.

The After Show begins at 9:15 PM E.S.T.

If you are one of the Top 10 Supporters:

  • You will receive an email from me after the StageIt show ends around 8:50PM just to confirm that you’re invited to the After Show on Skype. Look out for my email and be sure to check your spam folder. The email will be sent to whatever address you used to sign into StageIt.
  • After the StageIt show ends, sign on to Skype.
  • Add me as a contact. Contacts > Add Contact > Search Skype Name valemmich.webconcert
  • Once you find me, click the Add Contact icon and send me a request. Be sure to include your StageIt name and/or real name so I can identify you as one of the Top Supporters.
  • Wait for me to accept your request and write you back with further instructions.
  • Begin the process right after the StageIt show. Hopefully if you run into problems, you’ll have time to fix it. If you do have problems figuring out how to use Skype, refer to their Support page. If you have trouble finding me on Skype, you can search by my name, Val Emmich. If you still can’t figure it out, you can try to email me at ve.newsletter@gmail.com and if I see it in time I will try to get you squared away.
  • After I’ve called you on Skype and you’ve confirmed that you can see/hear me, please mute your microphone. If 10 people have their microphones open during the show, it will adversely affect the experience.

Some of the strange Polaroids going out in Song Shop packages. A few days left to order a personalized song for x-mas. valemmich.com/songshop

Some of the strange Polaroids going out in Song Shop packages. A few days left to order a personalized song for x-mas. valemmich.com/songshop

This is 2011. This is me holding a guitar in 2011. It is not my guitar. I don’t know where it came from. But I know where my guitar is. It’s in my house in the year 2013, which is the current year. In a few days I will be picking up my own guitar and playing a show in said house with my band around me and that show will be broadcast on the web. The date of that show is this Saturday, Dec 7, 2013 and the time is 8PM EST. Do you want to see me strum my own guitar in my own house in the year 2013? If so, go to valemmich.com/events for info/tickets. Photo by @thecameraclicks

This is 2011. This is me holding a guitar in 2011. It is not my guitar. I don’t know where it came from. But I know where my guitar is. It’s in my house in the year 2013, which is the current year. In a few days I will be picking up my own guitar and playing a show in said house with my band around me and that show will be broadcast on the web. The date of that show is this Saturday, Dec 7, 2013 and the time is 8PM EST. Do you want to see me strum my own guitar in my own house in the year 2013? If so, go to valemmich.com/events for info/tickets. Photo by @thecameraclicks