The Stranger dives into David Duchovny’s Renaissance Man lifestyle with the recent release of ‘Hell or Highwater’ and ‘Bucky F***ing Dent.’
By Ciara Dolan
Image: Jeff Drew
Long ago in New England, a young man entrenched himself in Ivy League academia, first earning a BA from Princeton, followed by an MA from Yale. Both were in English literature. The twentysomething intellectual stayed on to pursue his Ph.D., thoughtfully ruminating on Magic and Technology in Contemporary Fiction and Poetry—this being the title of his dissertation. Alas, that dissertation went unfinished—for the young man was distracted by something glinting in the distance, off in the far-away west.
So the young man abandoned his bookish trajectory and set forth on a journey to Los Angeles—and soon, he launched an illustrious career as an actor. His name would soon come to be known far and wide: David Duchovny.
David Duchovny spent years being other people: Twin Peaks’ cunning DEA Agent Denise Bryson; The X-Files’ obsessive FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder; Zoolander’s retired hand model J.P. Prewitt; Californication’s troubled novelist Hank Moody. But Duchovny’s also tried his hand at directing, and has also written two novels, 2015’s Holy Cow: A Modern-Day Dairy Tale and 2016’s Bucky Fucking Dent. In 2015, he also dropped a debut record, Hell or Highwater, featuring 12 tracks of alt-country/dad rock. This week, he’ll bring those tunes to Seattle.
Regardless of what your favorite Duchovny work is—his acting, his writing, or his newfound musical expressions—his passionate devotion to creativity, in all its myriad forms, inspires all who come in contact with him. That’s what happened to me, at least, when I spoke to him, on the greatest day of my life.
I had no idea you played music before I heard your debut. What’s it like to be a touring musician now, after your decades-long career as an actor, director, and author?
It came as a surprise to me, because I picked up a guitar six or seven years ago, just kind of for myself. You know, the idea of writing songs had never occurred to me until I started playing. I’ve written, I have words, so lyrically it seemed to be something I could do. But the fact that I could hear melodies as well was shocking to me. But still I thought, “Okay, these are just songs I’ll play for myself or whoever else is in the room.” And then I met people—better musicians than me—who were willing to play better than me and to record, produce, and fill songs in, to write bass parts and riffs that I could never write. So, you know, I wrote the bare bones of these songs, I wrote the chords and the melodies and the lyrics, but to record a song is so much more than that. I was lucky to find people who saw enough in my songs to want to fill them out. And then to perform live is a whole different kettle of fish, you know—it’s like, I don’t have a great singing voice. I’ve worked on it, I work on my tunefulness, I work on my ear, but it’s not natural… I do fuck up, you know.
Read the full interview on The Stranger’s website here.