Rock singer/songwriter Val Emmich was raised in Manalapan, NJ, and took up the guitar after he was diagnosed with Lyme Disease at the age of 15 and was forced to curtail his physical activities. Soon, he was writing his own songs. He attended Rutgers University, and after graduating turned to music full-time, releasing his first EP, The 15-Minute Relationship, in the summer of 2001 without the benefit of a record contract. He then turned to producer Wayne Dorell (who has worked with Tonic, Yo La Tengo, and Pavement), to help with his first full-length disc. Enlisting guitarist Anthony Bianco and drummer Eric Micali, they recorded Slow Down Kid, issued by Childlike Records in March 2003. With that, Emmich hired a publicist and shot a video for the track "Privacy Attracts a Crowd" that earned airplay on MTV2, and eventually he became the first unsigned artist ever to appear on MTV's Total Request Live. Naturally, he didn't remain unsigned for long, joining the Red Ink label, which had distribution through the Epic Records imprint of Sony Music. With that, he went back into the studio to make a refurbished version of Slow Down Kid. He kept six songs (with new overdubs on some), added four new ones, and got a new mix by Tom Lord-Alge for the Red Ink version of Slow Down Kid that was released in October 2004.