David J: I like Neil Halstead from Mojave 3 a lot, as well. I met him recently. He's really a nice guy. There's a free CD that's available with my album that has a cover version of one of his songs, "My Life in Art." It's a song I've always really loved. He is a really good songwriter.
After the art auction and the play, what next do you have lined up?
David J: The Desierto project, which we've already discussed. I'm also writing music for two independent feature films. One is a Japanese movie, which I recorded most of the music for that when I was in Tokyo recently. The director is Toyoda Toshiaki, and he's got real vision. The film is based around Japanese biker gangs, and I recorded it with two really good Japanese musicians -- a drummer and a guitar player. Basically, we just improvised it in the studio during a really good session together. The other film is based around the "Black Dahlia" murder mystery. Very abstractly based around that -- it's quite surreal. Ramzi Abed is the director for that. I'm really enjoying doing the music, and I've been working with John Neff, who is David Lynch's engineer.
What are the names of the two films?
David J: At the moment they're both untitled, but they do have working titles. The Japanese film is called I am Flash, and the other one is just called Black Dahlia at the moment.
Another thing I should mention is that I have a very talented protégé by the name of Renata Youngblood, and I'm writing songs for her. She writes her own songs, which are great, but we're combining on a project and I really think she could go places. She's very talented.
How did you find her?
David J: Really by chance. She was working with a producer, and I bumped into him on the street and he asked me if I would be interested in writing some songs. So I went down to the studio and met her. We had a conversation and she played me some her songs, and I was really impressed. Then just as I was going she began telling me a story about how she was taken under the wing of this producer, and they were trying to groom her as this kind of plastic Britney Spears-type act. Although she's 23, they're like, "It's okay, you can say you're 17." That just stuck in my head, so I wrote a song the next day called "Pseudo 17," and it's all about that manufacturing process and the industry. It's a reaction to it.
I've actually just come from her house. We were going through that song and it's sounding great. That is funny, as well. I didn't know that she lived on the same street as me. Last night I was going for a walk and in the dark she called my name. I thought, "Who's that?" And it turned out to be her. She lives 20 doors down from me. It never came up before. So I've been going around there and working on new songs with her, and that's been going well. I had an idea of recording another album, and what I'm doing is I'm giving her all the songs because I think she's so potentially amazing.
It's funny about how small the world is sometimes.
David J: Absolutely. Your life can just change on a random choice of turning left or turning right.
Given life's chances, is there anything you would go back and change? Anything you would do differently if you could? Any regrets?
David J: No! Because I believe that everything is a lesson -- and whatever you do, you need to do that. "There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be," as John Lennon said. And for him, that includes being outside the Dakota building in 1980 at Christmastime.
I bring that up because you said, in reference to Estranged, that the album "is, in part, about regret and what we do with it."
David J: And I believe that. We need to just learn from our mistakes.
Wasn't it Frank Zappa who said that if you make a mistake play it twice and act like you meant it?
David J: That's musical and something entirely different, but it's really true. That's really true. If you make a mistake you do it again. And I've done that. You do it again and it sounds intentional -- it sounds like art. And if you do it three times it's jazz!