By Lindsay Wallace
Val Emmich — a.k.a. Jesse from "Ugly Betty" and Liz Lemon's much younger boyfriend in the "Cougars" episode of "30 Rock" — kicked off his concert tour in New York earlier this month, and we caught up with him before the show.
The New Jersey native is a bit of a modern-day renaissance man: He's an actor, musician and recently completed his first novel. He recalled the moment when he felt his musical career was taking hold. "It was when you're not just playing for you and your buddies, and there's people coming to see you who you don't know, and you're like 'Whoa, who's that person?' " Despite the fact that he's been making music for the past 15 years, he said, "It wasn't until I got my first record deal a couple years ago that I said, 'Oh my god, I can call myself a musician!' I can literally say that I make money doing that. So that was the moment." Laughing, he added, "I still feel like a garage band."
Check out some video of the Val after the jump!
While he's best known as an actor, his musical skill is on display in spades during his live sets, which not surprisingly feature a lot of material from his most recent album, Little Daggers. His voice shifts easily from a low, calm and gentle moan to a strong and impressive wail in seconds.
Val's also performed his recent song "Snowy Day," for the first time at that show. The song was recently written specifically for "Ugly Betty," as Val portrays Betty's love interest in the show. "They needed this song that my character would dedicate to Betty, and I said, 'I happen to be a songwriter, if you let me write this song ...' And they did!"
On his Web site, Val is quoted as saying, "The sad reality is that music on a large scale is a business and the recent trend is to take everything that's human out of the production of it. Artists lack staying power and are replaceable. I hate it and I imagine you do too. I'm just doing what I do and hoping people will dig it."
Well, Val, one fan believes you've certainly accomplished that!