David Holzer talks to ‘X-Files’ and ‘Californication’ star David Duchovny ahead of the actor, writer and musicianʼs debut concert in Budapest.
Actor, director, writer and now singer-songwriter and performer David Duchovny comes across as a serious dude.
This might be because he’s talking to me, a complete stranger, via WhatsApp. Or, because he’s dreading being asked if there will ever be another series of “The X-Files”, the sci-fi TV series that made his name way back in the early ’90s, much to his surprise. I don’t blame him.
I finally make him laugh when I ask him if he plans to try being an artist next. And at least one of us gets to relax a little.
Duchovny is clearly a bright guy. He has an English literature degree from the United States’ prestigious Princeton University and has written three novels. The first two, “Holy Cow” and “Bucky F*cking Dent” hit the New York Times Best Sellers’ list. “Miss Subway”, his latest, has had excellent reviews.
And now Duchovny is doing music. He’s clearly a fan, comfortable talking about anyone from Bob Dylan to The Clash. “Hell or Highwater”, his first album, came out in 2015. The second, “Every Third Thought”, was released on vinyl and CD towards the end of 2018. He will be at MOM Sport in Budapest on February 11. Which is why I’m interviewing him.
Have you been to Budapest?
I never have and I have no preconceptions. I’m told it’s a beautiful city, but I don’t know much about it.
Do you enjoy touring?
I do. I find it very inspiring to go to places I’ve never been and see the people, the architecture, get the feel of the city. I find new ideas can come from journeys like that. In some way, all creative expression is filtered through where you find yourself to be.
How did you start playing and singing?
It all arose organically just from learning to play the guitar and getting chord progressions from the Internet. It was just really for me. Then I thought, “Maybe I’ll try to write a song or two.” I was pleased to find out I could hear certain melodies when I was playing chords and I didn’t think they were bad. I knew I could throw chords on melodies. That was the least of my concerns. I started banging out songs, shared a couple with a musician friend named Keaton Simons and we recorded a couple in his garage, just for me. We played these demos to a guy named Brad Davison, now my music manager, and he said we should record and release them. And now we’re playing them live. It’s been a surprise to me every step of the way.
What about your musical influences?
My first musical loves were all British Invasion: The Beatles, Stones and Who. But then I found my way back to the roots of it all. I’m always jumping back and forth from the Englishification of the roots. It goes around in a circle and that’s as it should be.
And new music?
Even though I have kids, I don’t listen to new music. I think I have open ears but maybe my mind is closed.
Do you feel like a rock and roller or an imposter?
As a rock and roller, sure. I didn’t bet everything on making it when I was 19. There’s a certain glory to these guys who had nothing to fall back on. It really was a high wire act for them, and I respect that. But musically, no. I don’t believe there’s such a thing as a musical imposter. Music is music and, when you hear it, you either like it or you don’t. It doesn’t matter who’s making it. Everyone’s ears are open. If you just play the music and don’t tell them who it is, they’ll either get it or they won’t. That’s all you can ask for. So I don’t feel like an imposter at all. A beginner, maybe. But that’s not a bad thing. Many of the artists I love did their best work early.
How about the leather pants and tattoos?
I think I’m done with my tattoos. I’ve got four, which is equal to zero in this day and age. Pants, I don’t know. I haven’t really chosen what clothes I’m going to wear on stage.
I’ve listened to “Every Third Thought” several times now. It takes a while to get into, but I’m liking it. Are you concerned about how your music will be received?
It’s not of paramount importance. Of course, I want everyone to love everything I do. That would be fantastic. But the older I get, what I’m concerned with is being an authentic expressive artist. I’m searching for universality, authenticity and trying to reach out to whoever it is who’s watching, reading, listening, whatever. It’s very hard to do. It’s very noisy out there. There’s a lot of interest in the personalities of the people making any kind of art. I’m most interested in whether this song I wrote makes your emotions flow. Did you plug your personal experience into it, did it help you in your life in some way? Did you like it, did it make you tap your foot, make you dance? That’s way more important to me. I’m trying to make something of human worth. That’s my only goal. Not world domination. Not wearing sequined glasses.
Your resumé is impressive. What’s next for you, painting?
(Laughs) I would if I could. I think I’m tapped out in terms of whatever natural talents I’ve been given. I think, naturally, I’m a writer who acts and now I’m an actor who sings, but I think that’s about it.
David Duchovny is at MOM Sport in Budapest on Monday, February 11. You can listen to his albums at the usual streaming sites or download them from davidduchovnymerch.com.