David Duchovny: Come for the actor, stay for the music X Files star tells Irish fans
Having come to music 'late in life', David Duchovny, who will forever be associated with the role of FBI agent Fox Mulder in The X Files, is giving it his all. Ahead of his gig in Dublin this month, he tells Lorraine Wylie that anyone unconvinced by actors-turned-musicians might find themselves pleasantly surprised
TO SCI-FI fans, he's the good-looking FBI agent Fox Mulder from television's The X-files. But, in a career spanning 30 years, ‘conspiracy theorist' is just one character David Duchovny has brought to life.
With over 30 movies and numerous television shows under his belt, the American A-lister has earned a string of coveted awards, including two Golden Globes. He's also turned his hand, with some success, to writing, directing and producing. Little wonder Duchovny's name has joined the stars on Hollywood's walk of fame.
Now, he has a new role – singer/songwriter. With two albums to date, Hell or High Water plus the current offering, Every Third Thought, it seems Duchovny is already striking a chord with music fans. Ahead of his European tour, the star took time from his busy schedule to tell me about his latest odyssey.
Firstly, is his singing is as good as his acting?
“Well, they're both very different but so far, audiences seem to like it,” he says, laughing. “I didn't set out to be a rock star. I guess, in the beginning, I tried to listen objectively to what I was doing. I had to ask myself if it was any good. Was it just noise or maybe it was something that would please people. I guess I came down on the side that it was worthwhile.
"Ultimately it's a rock and roll show we're doing and, yes, sometimes I won't hit a note but people are just out to have a fun – we all want to have a good time.”
In 2011, with too much time on his hands, he decided to fulfil a lifelong goal and teach himself to play guitar. His love affair with the instrument began with a Sunburst Martin D-18GE Golden Era 1934 reissue.
“I love the guitar. It's a beautiful instrument. Initially, I really only wanted to play songs that I liked, so I started throwing a few chords together then putting melodies over the chords. I think, for me the lyrics came easiest. It was a very organic process.”
He went on to make a few demos and later recorded his debut album, Hell or High Water followed by the current Every Third Thought. But it takes a brave man to go from a studio setting to live performance.
Did he find it stressful?
“No, not really. I think as you get older, you do begin to care less about other people's judgments. I know I'm being authentic and so if somebody criticises, then there's no hurt in that. You didn't like what I did? Fair enough, that's cool, I have no problem with that.
"Actually, It can be more stressful on set. There's a lot more pressure when I'm in a movie with a script and I'm saying someone else's words. The movie has to make money and so there's more pressure to give them what they want.”
Duchovny expects people to be honest with him and doesn't mind constructive criticism.
“I know I can hit a ‘clunker' sometimes,” he jokes. “But authenticity is really the only thing for me. I mean you can give me 10 articles that say this song is the best ever and I'll say bulls**t, that's a sh***y song. I came to music later in life and I see it as a gift. This is not something I ever expected. It's gonna sound weird but the songs are actually good!”
His debut album has a folksy theme while Every Third Thought veers more toward rock and roll. I ask about the artists who influenced his taste music.
“I grew up listening to my older brother's albums so I was mostly influenced by the sounds from the 60s. Bob Dylan for sure, The Beatles, The Stones, The Kinks – all the great names. I like a lot of artists but one of my favourites is Van Morrison – he has an astounding voice.”
Having listened to him sing, I think Duchovny actually has quite a nice voice. Gravelly and low, his tone seems well suited to folksy-type ballads. His dancing, on the other hand, is reminiscent of the moves common to middle-aged dads, especially after a few drinks. Although, to be fair, Duchovny is probably a lot sexier than the average dad!
Fans can judge for themselves when he and his band make their debut in Dublin in February. While it's his first time in Ireland, the star, has been to Scotland numerous times.
“My mother is originally from Aberdeen,” he says, sounding quite proud of his Celtic heritage. “She was a schoolteacher, as is my sister. I went to Scotland on holiday to see my mum's family when I was about four and 10; I still have relatives around Glasgow.”
What are his favourite memories of Scotland?
“Lemon bonbons and Golden Lyle syrup."
Does he see ‘music' as a fad?
“No, I don't think of it as phase. You know, as an artist, I'm all about expression and there's more than one medium to find expression. When I'm playing to a crowd of two or three thousand, there's an incredible vibe. I feel this is just magical. It's a gift to be able to do this. It still amazes me, so who knows what will happen.”
Judging by tickets sales alone, Duchovny and his band are making an impression but is it his music or his acting fame that's drawing the crowds? Perhaps Duchovny summed it up best when he said.
“I think when people come out to see me, they can decide if they like my music. Maybe they will, maybe not. It's just about having a good time. Come see the actor, stay for the music!”
:: David Duchovny plays The Academy, Dublin, on Wednesday February 20 (ticketmaster.ie). For more information see davidduchovnymusic.com