I had the great good fortune to speak with David Duchovny, our favorite brooding special agent, earlier this month in NYC. You might not know that Duchovny is releasing his second album, “Every Third Thought,” on February 9, and that his third fiction novel, Miss Subways, will be out in early May. Given his Ivy League background and writing/directing credits, are you really that surprised that Duchovny is a bit of a renaissance man these days? I stopped by the NYC listening party for “Every Third Thought” and caught up with David about writing in various musical and literary forms, and (of course!!!) we talked about season 11 of The X-Files.
Your first album, Hell or Highwater, was very romantic, which I wasn’t expecting. Is “Every Third Thought” going to be in that vein or will it have a different focus?
Rock ‘n roll songs are always about a girl and a boy, like 89% of them. I haven’t done the math but I’m going to guess. Love found, love lost, that’s what rock ‘n roll is about. So I would imagine there’s some romance in there. There’s also a couple songs about my dad, I wouldn’t classify those as romantic. Just more of my stuff.
What about the song “Stay On The Train,” which I just heard recently? That had a very father-child vibe and I really enjoyed it.
Thank you! That’s actually an older song, a song that we left off Hell or Highwater and yes, it is about me and my daughter.
When you are composing, do you compose on the piano or the guitar?
Guitar. That’s the only instrument that I play and “play” in quotes. I’m a rudimentary guitar player, but I know chords and can flip my capo around and figure things out.
Talking about writing, you’ve done a lot of different writing – music, novels, TV – I’m a writing/literature professor and I was wondering if you ever thought about teaching now that you have all this experience.
I was a TA in graduate school at Yale, but I never took a creative writing class. I taught expository writing, Daily Themes, it was like journalling and personal writing. I haven’t thought about teaching again, however.
Miss Subways, your new book out in May, is billed as kind of mystical and has some Irish folklore in it, like the myth of the hero Cuchulainn. Where did those ideas come from?
I think the gist of it is that when immigrants came over to this country from all the various countries they’ve from, they brought their beliefs and customs with them. What if the ancestral deities that they brought over were kind of smuggled over on the ships with them? All kinds of gods from all nationalities. The gods are bored, and they’re fucking with humans.
That is very ‘American Gods’! Sounds very fun. You’ve written some of my very favorite X-Files episodes, “The Unnatural” is a personal favorite, and I’ve been in touch with several writers this season – I’m set to interview Kristen Cloke and Shannon Hamblin, and their episode sounds intriguing.
That episode is GREAT. It only has like 20 lines of dialogue in it. It’s going to be really great.
Had you thought about writing for this season, was it an option?
It is always an option if I have an idea, and I did have an idea that I thought I might try to do. But ultimately when you are doing a shortened season like that with 10 episode, or six like the one before, if I’m going to direct then I’ve got to be light in the one before it so I can prep it and I’ve got to be light in the one after it for post-production. Now you’re talking about a third of the episodes that I’m going to be light in, and that’s not fair.
I think when you and Gillian wrote for the show, you gave Mulder and Scully humanizing moments, moments we don’t really get from Chris Carter (series creator/exec producer). Why do you think it’s hard for him to write an emotional scene with Mulder and Scully? The dialogue he writes between them is awkward.
Because that’s not what the show is about. I know the fans have a certain investment in that, but the show at its heart is an investigative procedural, an investigative show. And I think Chris is surprised as anyone that people are as interested in Mulder and Scully as they are. I don’t think he has trouble writing it, but his personal interests in the show lie elsewhere.
Scully having been raped by the CSM – what do you think about the backlash that’s been happening? Most of the show’s fan base is female, and Chris Carter said that Scully wasn’t raped, that the Cigarette Smoking Man “impregnated her with science.” It was rape and calling it otherwise was offensive. I feel like the man who created Scully could be a really good ally, but it doesn’t seem like that with the ways her body and her fertility has been used throughout the show.
I’m not aware of the backlash and what was said, but I feel Chris is absolutely an ally. You have to remember that what we’re doing is a soap opera, ultimately. We have 11 seasons of story and there are only so many permutations of what people do to one another. Horrible things have happened to both characters – we have to be put in jeopardy, we have to be abused in order for the story to move forward, the story moves through us. The story is high opera. Bad things happen to good people, that’s the story. Chris is not advocating in any way that this is ok. You have the uber supervillain of all time, the Cigarette Smoking Man. That’s what supervillains do – they kill and they rape.
You are calling it rape, at least, which I am thankful for. That said, the story for Mulder and Scully was not very hopeful in season 10, and we don’t know yet where season 11 will take us. I think that the journey that Mulder and Scully have been on is one of the best in modern TV history, I feel like it’s a romance, its intellectual, its suspenseful, all of those things. I know you can’t discuss details, but does season 11 end well for our heroes?
I think there is never an ending to the show, the show doesn’t have a natural end.
Well, I mean where you left it at the end of this season, your last scenes with Gilian/Scully.
Yes. I think most of the seasons where we left it, I felt were interesting ways to end.
I also think she’s pregnant. I know you can’t confirm or deny, so I won’t ask you to, but the hotel you stayed in was St. Rachel’s, and Saint Rachel had a child late in life.
Wow, you are observant. You should be talking to Chris! You are more observant than I.
Season 9, in 2002, ended with you two in bed and the line “Maybe there’s hope.” I feel like we need that more than ever right now. Do we end season 11 with hope?
I suppose you can choose whatever season you like the best after this one comes out! There’s always hope, that’s what The X-Files has always been about. At its heart, The X-Files is about mystery and about there being more than meets the eye.
David is a busy man, so I couldn’t talk his ear off about various Scully theories all day long (although I wanted to)! He thanked me every time I said I enjoyed anything he’d written or a performance he’d given, and it was a very lovely interview experience. He was respectful and attentive, and that is rare in a celebrity of his status. Yes, he is super hot in person. No, I thankfully did not swoon, and I sounded like the educated human being that I am. Always nice when I can pull that off!
Things you can’t say to someone you’ve loved since high school, but I was definitely thinking about them: thank you for The X-Files, it got me through high school and family issues and Lord knows what else. Thank you for Mulder, who is kind of my weird ideal man. Thank you for that final scene in “Hollywood A.D.”, and the bubble bath scene, and for “shut up, Mulder, I’m playing baseball.” Thank you for being over your phase where you hated The X-Files and would probably have flipped me off if I’d asked about it (see, I told you these are things I can’t say). And thank you for rolled up shirt sleeves and smart is sexy – if I look back on any of my 15-year-old crushes, this is perhaps the only one I can admit to with zero reservation.
If you want to see my photo with David from this interview, participate in my live-tweet of tonight’s new X-Files epsiode, “Ghouli” and generally experience my deep love for all things Duchovny, find me @lightstar1013 on Twitter. I’ll be back tomorrow with the episode recap!