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David Lynch, (Non-)Musician: The L.A. Weekly Interview 

Thursday, Jan 20 2011
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[Music Ed.'s Note: On January 31st, David Lynch will release an expanded edition of his recent single "Good Day Today"/"I Know" on the Sunday Best label. The collection features remixes by several prominent electronic artists and special packaging by renowned UK designer Vaughan Oliver (of 4AD fame).

Check out also our selected David Lynch discography (including instructions for the perfectly Asymmetrical David Lynch mixtape) and our exclusive interview with Vaughan Oliver about the "Good Day Today"/"I Know" single.]

Here's David Lynch's recipe for success, taken from his inspiring little manual Catching the Big Fish: "Try to get a job that gives you some time; get your sleep and a little bit of food; and work as much as you can. There's so much enjoyment in doing what you love."

click to enlarge PHOTO BY SEAN TEEGARDEN - "Happy accidents are real gifts and they can open the door to a future that didn't even exist."
  • PHOTO BY SEAN TEEGARDEN
  • "Happy accidents are real gifts and they can open the door to a future that didn't even exist."

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This philosophy, plus a healthy helping of Transcendental Meditation, of which he remains a vocal advocate, allowed Lynch to become an intriguing visual artist, with works in painting, collage, cartooning, photography and art-film. Later, this approach helped him make the mysterious jump into Hollywood filmmaking, where he remains one of the few working heirs to the great surrealist auteurs of cinema.

And it's a philosophy that Lynch is now applying with renewed focus to yet another art form: music. Anyone familiar with his film work has long figured out that Lynch is a genuine sound freak: Witness the uncanny industrial soundscapes of Eraserhead, the unforgettable aural stampede that elevates The Elephant Man, his 180-degree redefinition of Bobby Vinton and Roy Orbison in Blue Velvet, the groundbreaking romanticism of the Twin Peaks score, the jagged, deranged edges of Lost Highway and, especially, his covert beatnik musical Wild at Heart. It wouldn't be much of a stretch to say he possesses the keenest ears among all major living Hollywood directors.

Lynch soon will be relaunching his website, davidlynch.com, as a way to broadcast the result of a series of musical collaborations (or "combos," as he likes to call them) with other artists, under the supervision of his personal engineer and main partner in sound, Dean Hurley, at the filmmaker's prolevel home studio, Asymmetrical Studio.

Hurley says the website "will feature unreleased singles, experiments and instrumentals created through the years," including the legendary Thought Gang project, a full album of noir avant-jazz recorded alongside the Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me soundtrack by Lynch and longtime associate Angelo Badalamenti.

We met Lynch for a conversation about his music at his luminous homebase/art studio in the Hollywood Hills. (The italics below are an attempt to convey Lynch's distinctive manner of speaking, an infectious way to share his enthusiasm. In Lynch's world, some things are not just great, they're "really, really, really great.")

DAVID LYNCH: I'm not a musician, but I play music. So it's a strange thing.

I just saw this biography on the Bee Gees and it was so thrilling. The Bee Gees have this strange reputation of doing disco, but they are great musicians and writers. Unbelievable stuff and since they were little — music just solid in them. Just nonstop. I was so impressed. It was incredible.

And I saw some videos recently of Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits. Unbel ... I didn't know what a guitar player this guy is, but killer. My son is a guitar player, really good. So we were watching [video footage of] "Comfortably Numb," Pink Floyd, and it was in some arena. They had a theatrical thing set up. It was unbelievably beautiful, so powerful.

L.A. WEEKLY: Have you ever seen them live?

No, I've never seen Pink Floyd live.

Do you ever go to big shows?

I went to see ZZ Top in an arena in L.A. somewhere. I love ZZ Top. I don't go to too many shows. I'm gonna go see Lissie [who performed Jan. 15 at Hollywood's Music Box at the Fonda]. I've been traveling with Donovan, so I've been to his shows. I went to see Ringo at the Hard Rock Café a couple of months ago.

How do you choose what you go see?

I don't like to leave the house too much. I mean, you can get lost, there's so much good stuff going on.

How does music reach you nowadays? Do you have friends who recommend it to you? Do musicians send it to you?

[Pulls out a bunch of CD-Rs from his jacket pocket.] Both. I don't know who these people are. [Displays a CD-R marked "Deerhunter"] Let's see. Do you know Deerhunter?

Yes.

Somebody sent me that. [Reads CD labels.] Casino vs. Japan, Night on Tape. And then I got Moby's new album.

Are you friends with him?

Yeah. Yeah. I'm friends with Moby.

Did you know his music before you became friends?

Yeah. Yeah. He sort of started out doing a remix of Twin Peaks [Moby's 1991 single "Go" samples "Laura Palmer's Theme"]. So I would hear about Moby, but I never met him. I thought he was British 'cause he was so big in England, I just assumed he was English, and then I met Moby a couple of years ago in London.

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