By Vanessa Joy
Azmusic.org had the pleasure of sitting down with Jesse Val recently to chat with him about his opening at Pho Cao, the direction of his new vision and why this heart-wrenching new album was worth the fight back.
Amongst the low iridescent lights and diners enjoying mouthfuls of succulent Vietnamese cuisine, Jesse Val was laying his soul bare with his sumptuous, whiskey-soaked vocals . “[The debut show] was a very emotional roller coaster,” says Jesse. You’re off the scene for well over a year to try to rediscover who you are and what you wanna give to the people…” The people have responded in a resounding fashion by showing up to Pho Cao–on a Monday night nonetheless–with eager ears to specifically catch this Tempe Comeback Kid, once again, grace the stage.
Cartoon Lion fans will be relieved to hear, Jesse Val has not abandoned the key elements that made him a favorite on the scene to begin with. Says Jesse, “I’ve always done simple rock ‘n’ roll. It’s who I am inside. It’s wild, It’s not always tuned-up.” Whereas Cartoon Lion favored a more modern sound, Delta Val will be offering up a much more vintage, classic vibe and listeners seem to be keen on this new incarnation.
This multihyphenate (singer/songwriter/guitarist) has always been highlighted by fans and critics alike as a prolific songwriter and the highly-relatable, self-aware tracks from Delta Val are no exception. When we asked Jesse Val about his songwriting process, we got a much more metaphysical answer than we bargained for: “Musicians [write by saying]: ‘let’s make a song sound like this…or there needs to be a metal part here’,” he says. ” [I’m] not saying that’s wrong, [but] the music that I write is not mine. I don’t know where it comes from to be honest with you. It’s there. It’s in my head, so I play it. Once it comes out, you guys hear it; it just passes through me. You have to let it be what it is–regardless if it’s heavy or slow or soft.” This is when we fell in love with Jesse Val even more than we already were.
A San Diego (National City) transplant to the Valley from modest means with Pacific-blue eyes, Jesse Val isn’t interested in making musical merriment for the posh set–cough, cough Scottsdale–he’s the patron saint of us working stiffs. Says the artist, “I need to connect with the common person. I [couldn’t] care less about these rich people and politicians…, but us regular folk–we need a voice. Sometimes the day just sucks and sometimes you’re tired of grindin’ on the stone, but–the music–for three minutes can take you somewhere, make you forget about the bills.” The diverse crowd you’ll see at a Delta Val show is a testament to Jesse Val’s philosophy, even though this profound artist didn’t have it quite so easy growing-up as the odd-man-out. A White minority in a predominately Black and Hispanic neighborhood, young Jesse Val honed his musical skills in a sheer attempt to give himself some type of emotional output and now, the fans, we reap the benefits of a once-tortured soul who has now found inner peace through his craft.
Delta Val has also opened the door for talented, young bassist Kyle Forsyth to show up on the scene like a quiet storm. Like Jesse Val, Kyle has been playing for most of his life and we’re excited to see where this new-found musical partnership takes them. The essence of Delta Val is simple, pure, untainted and Kyle adds to that mystique nicely. Even though Jesse Val’s personnel that he jams with has changed–his endgame has not. “Every artist in town knows it; reinvention is the key.” Jesse Val muses. “It’s how you stay relevant. If you keep producing the same art year after year, well…people already have that.” Even as a new father, Jesse Val has definitely succeeded in his venture to stay relevant. He laughs, “It can be done!”
You would think with such connections on the local scene, Delta Val would have dozens of local musicians vying for a chance to collaborate with this dextrous musician. That wasn’t the case. After proverbially knocking on the door of some former scene-mates, his drive to make music with other like-minded musicians fell on deaf ears. It’s an evil that this town has been plagued with for far too long and from the ashes of those dashed hopes, Delta Val rises. We have a feeling, others will realize that their ticket to ride on the smoking locomotive that is Delta Val was a missed opportunity. Don’t miss yours. We at AZmusic.org implore you to catch this esoteric and momentous artist on a stage near you.