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David Duchovny tries to keep politics out of songwriting

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David Duchovny tries to keep politics out of songwriting

Post by sir on Tue 14 Feb - 16:25

David Duchovny tries to keep politics out of songwriting

By Alejandra SalazarFebruary 14, 2017

David Duchovny says he likes to sing about timeless themes like love, addiction and loss instead of current events. Photo: Simon Cornils Photo: Simon Cornils David Duchovny says he likes to sing about timeless themes like love, addiction and loss instead of current events.

David Duchovny is a bit of a Hollywood Renaissance man. An actor, director and writer, he’s now charting his own path as a musician, currently playing the role of rock ’n’ roll frontman at his stop at San Francisco’s Social Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 15, during a tour in support of his 2015 debut album “Hell or Highwater.”

Duchovny is very candid about his beginnings as a musician, aware of his limitations. The way he explains it, he started in music to just have fun playing songs he likes, emulating the works of Tom Petty, Neil Young and similar classic rock artists. He never even meant to pursue music professionally until a chance encounter with a musician friend’s manager encouraged him to consider music seriously.

He’d begun in Hollywood as an actor, rising to prominence in the early ’90s as FBI agent Fox Mulder in the hit television show “The X-Files,” a character he returned to for two films and a limited series revival in 2016, and starred in the TV series “Californication” and “Aquarius.”

He’s also known for being pretty public about his politics. During last year’s presidential race and after the election of Donald Trump, Duchovny made headlines as an outspoken critic of the president, most recently suggesting that Trumpian politics might inspire a future incarnation of “The X-Files.”

But when it comes to his music, Duchovny likes to sing about timeless themes like love, addiction and loss. Unlike his television projects, he doesn’t find it prudent — or productive in the long run — to try to tailor his music to current events.

“Despite all the things I dislike about Trump’s persona and presidency, I also hate the fact that all media, all television, all music — it’s all this political discussion all the time,” he said.

For this reason, Duchovny maintains that his music is separate from his politics. (He also added as an aside: “It’s hard to rhyme Trump. It’s a hard rhyming word.”)

Duchovny’s second album is in the works for 2017, thematically in line with the universal concepts in his first, but with a tougher, more rock ’n’ roll edge. Reflecting on how he discovered his musical affinity on set between takes, he opens up about songwriting, performing live and his aspirations as a musician.

Q: When did you decide you wanted to be a musician?

A: The whole time I’ve been an actor, I’ve been perplexed by how much downtime you have in your trailer, and by the kind of feeling of helplessness or uselessness that goes on during your workday. So I decided about six years ago that I would try and learn a skill while I was waiting while I was acting. I love music, so I just picked up a guitar and I told myself I was going to start to play it.

I did this very tricky thing where I asked producers of whatever I was shooting to make my character a guitar player so that I would have to take lessons and they would have to pay for them. At the end of “Californication,” I did that — Hank Moody started playing guitar. And then my character on “Aquarius,” Sam Hodiak, was a guitar player, so I got some free lessons out of that the whole time.

Q: How did you first start writing music? What did that creative process look like?

A: The first batch of songs I wrote never thinking I was going to share them with anybody ... I had no sense that they were going to be heard by a stranger, or that anyone would know what I was talking about. Even though these songs are written in a way that I think are universal, they are at the same time very personal. They were just kind of for me. So there’s a real purity to them, I think.

I read somewhere that Neil Young, when he first started writing songs, would learn a new chord and write a new song in it. And that’s kind of how I started, too. A song like “Stars,” which is off the album (“Hell or Highwater”), is something I wrote after I learned B7. … Now I just sit and strum some chords, and if I start to hear a melody floating over those chords then I’ll start to play with that. I’ve got a notebook with little fragments of poems and phrases and ideas, and I’ll see what fits. ... There are mystical ways of writing songs, and then there are nuts and bolts ways of writing songs, but I learned that they both get you to the same place.

Q: What is it like, getting onstage to perform your music?

A: When I go out and perform in front of people as a musician, it’s not me — it’s a character based on me. It’s a performative thing. You have to go out there and bring a certain amount of energy because people want to have a good time.

Q: How has performing as a musician changed the way you approach your other projects?

A: To sing in public would have been my greatest fear in life, and I’m not exaggerating. And the fact that I’m doing it and ... I’m not afraid to just go out there now — it was kind of like a near-death experience. That’s kind of liberating. It can throw away the nerves in many other aspects of one’s life. Maybe it makes me less tense, less fearing of failure as an actor. Maybe it makes me more willing to take risks. I’m not sure. I guess I’m just waiting to see if that happens.

Alejandra Salazar is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email:

David Duchovny: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15. $26. Social Hall S.F. 1270 Sutter St., S.F. (414) 777-1715.

To watch the lyric video of “Hell Or Highwater”:


Thank you Maria!
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Re: David Duchovny tries to keep politics out of songwriting

Post by jade1013 on Tue 14 Feb - 16:28

Credit to original photographer, poster, scanner, site & anyone I may have missed in between

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