We are in Liverpool, which feels a suitable backdrop to be interviewing David Duchovny about his music. The city is the home of the British Invasion, a cohort that influenced his songwriting, and home, of course, to the Beatles, producers of one of Duchovny's favourite records, the White Album.

The word "we" is doing a job of work here; I am in Liverpool and Duchovny is on my laptop screen at the other end of a Zoom call. In an attempt at a bit of scene setting I joke that I'm picturing him as he is in The Chair, a superb comic-drama in which he plays a sent-up egotistical and petulantly fragile version of himself, living in a vast mansion, blending carrot juices and obsessing over the cultural mores of the local farmer's market.

He is not, he says, in a mansion but in a "nice house" and asks if I'm the type of person who believes "movies and TV is really the person". Wait, I say, you're not actually Fox Mulder?

Here we have to be cautious. Prior to the interview, Duchovny's PR people brief me about what he can and can't talk about due to the drawn out SAG-AFTRA - the actors’ union - strikes ongoing in the US. Actors joined industrial action in July and, more than 100 days later, pay talks continue.

So any mention of film or TV projects is off the cards as Duchovny is on strike. He was recently pictured on the Writers Guild picket line, holding a placard reading, "The Residuals Are Out There", a wink at the famous tag line of The X Files. He must tire of the relentless X Files puns, all these years down the line. Until they're useful.

But we're here to talk about his music.

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Duchovny is preparing for a European tour of his latest album, Gestureland. It is "latest" in that elastic sense of time developed during and post-pandemic; the album is from 2021, recording began the week before America's covid-19 lockdowns but touring and promotion were curtailed for obvious reasons. Now it's time to get the show on the road and he'll be in Scotland in November.

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The word “polymath” is used regularly to describe Duchovny, as is the modern “multi-hyphenate”, which we used to call a “portfolio career” back in the day.

But it was a lack of learning that drove Duchovny to want to educate himself about music. That, and the end of his marriage, to the actress Tea Leoni in 2014. He learned to play the guitar during the relationship breakdown and who among us is immune to cliche?

It was a way, he says, of developing himself creatively in his 50s, having spent 30 years "self-educating myself" about acting.

"Self-educating myself?" he pauses, rolls his eyes. "There's a good one - it's early here". It's a unusual fluff of his lines, that. Otherwise, Duchovny is hyper-articulate and funny, verbally on his toes. Every word is delivered in his steady, laconic drawl, the vowels long and relaxed.

He hardly receives enough recognition as a funnyman. It's a sardonic wit that runs through his work - from throwaway sarcastic quips as Mulder to laugh aloud scenes in his novel Bucking F*cking Dent to a charming in-person humour. If there's ever a remake of The Bishop's Wife, they would do worse than cast Duchovny in Cary Grant's role. He lists his other accomplishments - a robust education at elite American universities, acting, writing TV screenplays, writing novels - and says: "Music was like a respite from my education.

"So when I went about starting to try to write songs, it was really in the dark.

"It wasn't trying to write like the Beatles or trying to write like people that I love, because I just wasn't good enough to know how to do that, or I wasn't educated enough to know how to do that.

"So it was really kind of a liberating feeling of Zen Mind, beginner's mind, you know, just like, oh, there's no pressure on any of this. It's just me having fun."

There is, again, a pause and that dry humour: "And then, of course, I turned it into something else that would just drain all the fun out of it."

Making good music, he says, music that other people will enjoy - with that comes pressure and a certain unknowable quality.

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Duchovny can list the writers who influence him and the actors but with music there's something intangible yet innate: "I grew up in a certain time when I heard the sounds on the radio or on vinyl and I can't escape that, you know, that's what I feel in my bones and my soul."

When I ask if there was music in his childhood home he says he benefitted greatly from having an older brother. "I think most musicians have an older brother that had good taste in music or that had money to buy albums," he says. "Younger brothers never had the money.

"[My brother] was really into the 60s [music]. Whereas I was coming into consciousness more like in the early 70s. So, his influence reached back, thankfully, to become my influence.

"But I listened to the radio. I always listened to the radio.

"Back when you were at the mercy of the DJ, you know, you didn't have every single f*cking recorded thing in the world at your fingertips at every damn moment.

"You know, you couldn't curate your own bubble, which I think was a really good thing because you got exposed to different sounds."

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He tells me about listening to AM and FM radio and sports and a show called the Newies that played on Sunday nights. "Gives you an idea how lame things were back then."

The DJ played new releases and listeners would vote on what was going to go to number one. It may be a minor achievement in the grand scheme of a career littered with awards but he remembers the boy Duchovny voting correctly for Frankenstein by the Edgar Winter Group, a bold gamble given how few instrumentals made the Top 10.

"It was ballsy of me," he says, "I'm sure you remember the riff. It's quite famous."

My mouth opens and this flies out: "Can you sing it for me?" It is, it's worth confessing now, not the worst thing that flies out of mouth during the hour or so Duchovny and I talk. I am only relieved, if I'm honest, that my soul did not fly out also.

I don't recall seeing a first episode, there is no ACME anvil drop after which little birds circled my skull warbling The X Files theme tune, but I can tell you that at some point Mulder and Scully entered my life and I knew what love was.

These were the days in which to be a fan was hard yards. You had to wait a week between episodes - what my godsons call a "delayed drop" and what we called "watching television" - or video tape a show.

Finding out behind-the-scenes facts or reading interviews with the actors involved buying books or magazines. It was easier to fall into a romance with a TV show, it was more intimate than the movies, it was in your living room.

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My cousin and I used to write our own The X Files graphic novels in which we, too, were FBI agents solving crimes related to our everyday lives. I had a black golf umbrella with a wooden handle because Mulder and Scully had black golf umbrellas with wooden handles and, let me tell you, if it was ballsy for a teenager to vote for an instrumental to make it to number one in the charts, it was ballsier still to carry a golf umbrella to a Lanarkshire high school where hard-edged teenage bravado prevented even the wearing of coats in the dead of winter.

So here I am now, chatting to David Duchovny himself like it ain't no thing.

He tells me about his brother and I tell him I am an only child who grew up listening to my mother's vinyl collection, which stops abruptly in 1975 when she lost her hearing.

"I got tingles when you said that just because it's so amazing," Duchovny replies. "The twists and turns of our education, of our predilections you know."

He asks who I grew up with and I rhyme off a list and then tell him about how I especially loved the soundtrack to the musical Hair. I didn't understand why my mother continually hid the record from me until I listened to it again as an adult.

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And this flies out of my mouth: "I listened to the lyrics and I was like, 'Oh, yeah, that was really not appropriate for a seven-year-old to be singing about cunnilingus."

He misses not a beat. "You were learning Latin really?" What a spin.

Duchovny's mother, Margaret, was Scottish, from Aberdeen, and sounds like she was quite a gal. Mrs Ducovny (Duchovny's parents dropped the H) graduated from the University of Aberdeen at a time when working class women did not easily attend university and emigrated to New York to marry Duchovny's father, Amram.

On the Scottish theme, I tell him Billy Connolly was interviewed recently and spoke about how he feels about touring and performing on stage, how he becomes a different person, and I wonder if that resonates with Duchovny - is he a changed person as he changes guises?

Connolly and Duchovny worked together on the second The X Files movie and Duchovny recalls how the comedian was "as brilliant, as fast and as nice a person as he appears to be."

On set, no matter the time, Connolly would ad lib fake letters from fans of The X Files detailing how the Scotsman had ruined the franchise. Even at 3.30am his voice would implode a tired silence with the words "Dear Sirs..."

While writing songs, Duchovny says, he is a different person. "It's almost like each song has a different person writing [it], you kind of fall into a point of view that obviously is within your purview but it's not necessarily you. Because the strictures of the form of lyric writing are so tight in a way and spare that you're forced into different points of view.

"Even by rhyming you're forced into different thoughts. Which is what I love about rhyming because you'll go for a thought or word just because you've got to rhyme something and it's better than the logical thoughts that you would have had if you didn't have to rhyme."

Duchovny is frank in the extreme about his musical talents, saying he never expected to perform live. "I thought, okay, we're going to record some songs and autotune me, and I'll sound decent, and you know, I'll get the songs out there and nobody will ever know that I can't sing.

"And [people said] 'These are good songs, we should go on tour with them'. And I was like, 'Oh, f*ck', you know? You'll get exposed here."

He was nervous, he said, when he started out and I don't doubt it. He has quite an intimidating presence, Duchovny, but there's something soft behind it too. He tells me he's worked hard on his voice and is more confident than he was but knows the limits of his range.

It was a performance in New York that helped him overcome, if not stage fright, then stage hesitation. The crowd was "excited and loud". Duchovny realised: "They were there to have a good time. You know, it's like, they didn't come to make fun of me. They came to have a good time.

"And I decided I wasn't gonna stand in their way with my self-consciousness."

From his telling of it, he puts in some shift on the stage. The songs, he says, are "little journeys" that he wants to take people on with him, he wants the audience dancing and singing and - in common with all his disciplines, singing, acting, writing - he wants to make a connection.

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"Lyrics suffer in a live setting because nobody can ever make out the lyrics unless they know the songs really well and people tend not to know my songs really well because they're not playing on the radio all the time.

"So sometimes I wish I could have the bouncing ball behind me [like karaoke]."

His performance, he says, morphs and adapts night to night, depending on the audience. What if it's a bad audience? He tells a story from somewhere in mainland Europe, maybe Hungary, maybe Romania. But it was in a symphony hall "way too cushy and classy for us".

The band learned later that the audience had been told not to stand up but Duchovny, unaware, was straining with all his might to make them move.

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"I got through three songs and I was like, oh, man, they f*cking hate this shit," he says. "They're on their asses and they don't care. And I was dancing my ass off."

But then, a saviour. "This one very weird dude got up and he started, like, really dancing badly, but hard.

"And before you knew it the whole place was rocking.

"I sought that guy out and I don't think he understood any English but I said, 'You saved the night, you saved the whole f*cking night.' It took one guy to just start dancing - and I'm that guy everywhere."

His concerts come with meet-and-greet tickets, another chance to make connections. Fame, he says, bores him now but he has a compulsion to put people at ease - a positive for them but a trait that makes life more difficult for him.

He says he enjoys when people want to engage with him about his music or writing, to hear how they have absorbed his art. I tell him how, at a recent performance in Edinburgh, a fan handed Bruce Springsteen a copy of his thesis on Springsteen's lyrics and he likes this, especially when he hears that Springsteen paused the concert while he stood and read excerpts from the dissertation.

Duchovny follows in a line of actors starting up bands - Johnny Depp, Jared Leto, Russell Crowe, Kevin Bacon, Ryan Gosling, Zooey Deschanel, and on.

"Many actors at a certain point might be frustrated at expressing other people's words," he says. "It might come from that. The limits of the business, showbusiness, can feel tight sometimes and you want to sneak around the sides of it and say, ok, this is another thing I want you to hear about."

The European tour is fairly snappy, which Duchovny says is because "it's not super easy for me, especially at my age, to be travelling." He's 63, not so's you'd realise it. A little salt and pepper, some furrows, but obviously takes care of himself. He started writing novels in his 50s and recording music in his 60s. What next for his 70s?

While the strikes prevent him from talking about acting, he has a clause that allows promotion of his forthcoming romantic comedy with Meg Ryan, What Happens Later. Ryan is now 61 and it's a pity, just how refreshing it feels to see romantic leads of chronological parity cast opposite one another.

This is an element I like about one of Duchovny's novels, Miss Subways. The protagonist is no cliched nubile ingénue - she's 41 and knows what she's about.

Speaking of his novels, more than 15,000 authors have now signed a letter from the Authors Guild criticising tech companies including Meta, IBM and Microsoft for mining their work - without permission or pay - to train AI systems.

An Atlantic magazine reporter has created a search tool that combs the data set and I search for Duchovny's name. Three of his novels, Bucky F*cking Dent, Holy Cow and Miss Subways, are listed. I assume, when I mention it, I'm telling him nothing new but it turns out I am.

He jokes that it's flattering and that he hopes the song writing is being used too, before riffing on AI.

"Nick Cave's point," he says, "Was that AI has never suffered and that's what's necessary in making art.

"Part of my heart breaks at thinking of the hollow craft that looks similar to the real stuff but isn't. It's the difference between fake food and real food - it has no real nutrition.

"And I just hope we as a species continue to demand real food but I'm not so sure."

I'm in Liverpool because I'm at the Labour party conference, which is perhaps slightly less appropriately musical a backdrop, although it certainly is more harmonious a scene than it would have been even 12 months ago.

It should be a good prop for some political questions for the actor-writer-singer-director. America, with Donald Trump's re-emergence, feels once again like a nation wondering at just what pass the trail had been lost.

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Trump also has a Scottish mother but I doubt he and Duchovny have much else in common. Duchovny is of Ukrainian and Jewish descent on his father's side, and the Hamas attack on Israel has occurred only three days before our interview. In another of his novels, Holy Cow, a character, Shalom, fixes the Israel-Palestine conflict.

But we have run way over our allotted time and I suddenly lose the thread of myself. My mouth is all betrayal yet again, and out flies: "I used to be really obsessed with you."

Again, the big lad misses not a beat and replies: "Why did you put it in the past tense like that? That's just hurtful."

Moments after we end the call the fire alarm goes off and the hotel begins an evacuation. It was likely the universe trying to do me a favour but stepping in just a moment too late.

Off I go: I tell him I wrote an essay on John Ashbury at university because I read that Duchovny was an Ashbury fan. His story of dancing reminded me of a line in the poem Wakefulness, about a gavotte of dust-motes.

"That was a great place to send you," he says, and I realise he's doing the thing - he's putting me at my ease, at cost to himself.

I am less at ease when he asks: "Have you read my stuff? You can speak honesty." I joke that I'll upgrade my ticket to a meet-and-greet for his Glasgow show and answer him then.

"Great," he replies, "Let's hold up the concert for 20 minutes while we talk about Truly Like Lightning," and I think this is a joke but that he also sincerely means it.

David Duchovny is playing at the Assembly Room in Edinburgh on November 6 and the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow on November 7.

For tickets see gigsinscotland.com/artist/david-duchovny