NEWS

Tom Holkenborg Scoring Alita: Battle Angel (Robert Rodriguez & James Cameron)

By | Uncategorized

Friends, I’m excited to officially announce that I am finishing up the original score to the upcoming adventure film Alita: Battle Angel – directed by Robert Rodriguez and produced by James Cameron.

Both Robert and James are two of my cinematic heroes. To be able to work with them both on such a visionary project as Alita has been unbelievable. They both want to push the envelope and encouraged me to do the same with the score.

The film is adapted from Yukito Kishiro’s manga series and arrives in theaters on February 14, 2019. It’s been an incredible project to be involved with and I can’t wait for you to see and hear the movie!

Watch the official trailer here.

Learn more of the story here.

Tom Holkenborg Scoring Peter Jackson’s ‘Mortal Engines’

By | Uncategorized

Friends, I’m proud to announce that I am working on the original score to the upcoming film Mortal Engines, produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, King Kong) and directed by Christian Rivers

It’s a dream come true working with Christian and being welcomed into Peter’s Wingnut family. Traveling to their facility in New Zealand has been nothing short of mind-blowing, I feel like I’ve learned more about moviemaking in the past six months, than most could hope to in a lifetime. I am extraordinarily grateful to Peter, Fran and Christian for this opportunity and their friendship. Scoring Mortal Engines pushed me to my limits, it’s an incredible project to be part of.

Mortal Engines is based on Philip Reeve’s book of the same title and set thousands of years after civilization was destroyed by a cataclysmic event. Cities survive a now desolate Earth by moving around on giant wheels, attacking and devouring smaller towns to replenish their resources.

Watch the official trailer here: https://youtu.be/IRsFc2gguEg

The film comes out Friday, December 14. Hope you can enjoy it in theaters!

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Tom Holkenborg to Score VR Cinematic ‘The Great C’

By | Uncategorized

MULTI-PLATINUM COMPOSER JUNKIE XL TO SCORE UPCOMING VR CINEMATIC, THE GREAT C

Award-winning artist Junkie XL taps into his extensive musical background to score the upcoming Philip K. Dick VR adaptation

TORONTO – XX, 2018 Entertainment One’s (eOne) Emmy® Award-winning studio Secret Location announced its collaboration with Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum producer Tom Holkenborg, aka Junkie XL, who is scoring its upcoming cinematic virtual reality (VR) narrative, The Great C. Featuring a poignant storyline, stunning environmental design and an expressive soundtrack, The Great C is adapted from a Philip K. Dick – The Man in the High Castle and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – the inspiration for Blade Runner – short story of the same name.

“I’m always looking for new technological advancements or mediums to experiment with in my composition work and The Great C was a unique project to explore VR, a really exciting new space with huge cinematic potential,” said Holkenborg. “I love being at the cutting edge and The Great C allowed me to really push the envelope of what a film viewing and listening experience can be.”

Holkenborg, who’s recent film scoring credits include Mad Max Fury Road, Deadpool and Peter Jackson’s forthcoming Mortal Engines, composed The Great C soundtrack with a dark intensity that fluctuates between brooding ambient movements and powerful blasts of electronic fury. Each of The Great C’s 37-minutes are emotionally elevated by Holkenborg’s backing tracks, which were recorded and written to enhance viewers’ time with the VR experience through the lens of his extensive knowledge of both classical and modern musical structures.

“Junkie XL’s reputation precedes him. We knew from the beginning that having him compose The Great C’s soundtrack would be a best-case scenario that takes our work to the next level,” said Ryan Andal, President and Co-Founder of Secret Location. “Pairing a strong Philip K. Dick story with Junkie XL’s atmospheric soundtrack, and then wrapping it all up in an intense filmic experience has made The Great C an unmissable title we feel is indicative of a new wave of VR content that better shows the medium’s potential.”

The Great C follows Clare, a young woman who finds her life upended when her fiancé is summoned for this year’s pilgrimage. Forced to leave the safe confines of her village, Clare must now decide whether to accept the rules of this harsh society or fight against the oppressive reality of her world.

The Great C, which premiered at this year’s prestigious Venice Film Festival, will be offered as a timed-exclusive at select location-based venues beginning this September. It will also be available for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation®VR, with an expected release in Q4 2018. This title is not yet rated. Secret Location produced The Great C with the support of the Canadian Media Fund.

For more information on The Great C:

About Secret Location

Founded in 2009 and acquired by Entertainment One (eOne) in 2016, Secret Location is reshaping the virtual reality (VR) industry by combining cutting-edge technology with traditional storytelling. Secret Location created the first original serialized VR narrative and is the first company in the world to win a Primetime Emmy Award for a VR project. Secret Location also in-house developed Vusr, a cloud-based content management system that offers solutions to several challenges in VR distribution such as monetization and managing location-based experiences.

About Entertainment One

Entertainment One Ltd. (LSE:ETO) is a global independent studio that specializes in the development, acquisition, production, financing, distribution and sales of entertainment content. The Company’s diversified expertise spans across film, television and music production and sales; family programming, merchandising and licensing; digital content; and live entertainment. Through its global reach and expansive scale, powered by deep local market knowledge, the Company delivers the best content to the world.Entertainment One’s robust network includes Makeready with Brad Weston; content creation venture Amblin Partners with Steven Spielberg, DreamWorks Studios, Participant Media, and Reliance Entertainment; unscripted television production companies Whizz Kid Entertainment and Renegade 83; live entertainment leaders Round Room Entertainment; world-class music labels Dualtone Music Group and Last Gang; and award-winning emerging content and technology studio Secret Location.

The Company’s rights library, valued at US$1.7 billion (as at 31 March 2017), is exploited across all media formats and includes more than 80,000 hours of film and television content and approximately 40,000 music tracks.

# # #

Press Contacts:
Nick LaTona/Monica Pontrelli
Wonacott Communications
(310) 477-2871
secretlocation@wonacottpr.com

Tomb Raider – Film Score In Progress

By | Uncategorized

25289393_938352896333597_302862521629311115_nLara Croft, the iconic star of the legendary Tomb Raider series, is back… but this time, completely rebooted and given a whole new breath of life. In this new 2018 reboot, Lara is presented as the fiercely independent daughter of a missing adventurer must push herself beyond her limits when she finds herself on the island where her father disappeared.

Tom Holkenborg, aka Junkie XL, the Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum producer, musician, and composer has been given the opportunity to create a whole new score that captures the fierceness of Lara Croft that will bring her character and world to life.

Tomb Raider is set for release on March 16th, 2018 and stars Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) as Lara Croft alongside Dominic West (The Affair), Walton Goggins (The Hateful Eight) and Daniel Wu (Into the Badlands).

The Dark Tower – Film Score Release

By | The Dark Tower

Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), the last Gunslinger, is locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim (Matthew McConaughey), also known as the Man in Black. The Gunslinger must prevent the Man in Black from toppling the Dark Tower, the key that holds the universe together. Tom Holkenborg, aka Junkie XL, the Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum producer, musician, and composer created a score that captures the essence of this ultimate battle between good and evil. The original soundtrack from Sony Music is now available on all digital platforms.

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The Red Bulletin Podcast: Junkie XL

By | Interview

“With his shaved head and leather jacket, Tom Holkenborg doesn’t look dissimilar to the characters in the film he won acclaim composing for. But unlike one of George Miller’s Mad Max creations, the Dutch producer is fine with failure.

Raised in a musical family, Holkenborg played in bands and created beats, driven by a never-ending appetite to mix genres and understand both the creative and the technical side of music production. Also present: a willingness to throw things away and start from the bottom again.

He stopped by The Red Bulletin Podcast to talk about why, after creating a worldwide megahit, he decided to try something he’d never done before and get into film composing.”

Soundtrack Dreams – Junkie XL “Brimstone” Soundtrack Review

By | Brimstone

Soundtrack Dreams
Soundtrack review: Brimstone (Tom Holkenborg – 2016)
By Mihnea Manduteanu

“Brimstone” is a 2016 western thriller film conceived, written and directed by Martin Koolhoven. The film stars Dakota Fanning, Guy Pearce, Kit Harington and Carice van Houten. It is described as a triumphant epic of survival and a tale of powerful womanhood and resistance against the unforgiving cruelty of a hell on earth. Liz (Dakota Fanning), carved from the beautiful wilderness, full of heart and grit, hunted by a vengeful Preacher (Guy Pearce) – a diabolical zealot and her twisted nemesis. But Liz is a genuine survivor; she’s no victim – a woman of fearsome strength who responds with astonishing bravery to claim the better life she and her daughter deserve. Fear not. Retribution is coming. Tom Holkenborg / Junkie XL wrote the score and I’m always up for a good western score. I was very curious how he would approach it given that lately I’ve been spoiled with scores for this genre from Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.

Tom Holkenborg is one of my favorite composers around; I love his energy, his passion and how his music affects me. Usually it’s an adrenaline rush but every now and then (see 2015’s “Black mass” for example) he goes emotional and melodic and the title theme from “Brimstone” just leaves me with my mouth opened as it’s a beautiful and graceful orchestral theme that does the majestic world of Westerns justice. The cue is quiet and spacious and the subtle use of strings gives it a dark velvety feel. It’s rare that a composer I know so well and appreciate so much can surprise me so completely with a score but here I am diving deep in the most elegant score Tom has written so far. I feel like I am in a concert hall for the first few cues listening to a classical concert. Even the theme for the main villain “The reverend” makes me care for the character and not hate him at all.

As explosive as he is in most of his score with thundering percussion sections and relentless cues, Tom Holkenborg keeps his music contained in Brimstone. I listen to a cue like “She belongs in hell” and all I feel and hear is a smoldering hate the kind that brews inside and wants to get out but at this moment can only manifest itself through the tiny escape routes of fiery eyes and a trembling lip. The hatred is so thick I can put my hand on it and yet the surface of the cue remains untroubled. There is a sense of fate and a destiny that cannot be stopped or fought in every cue from this score. There’s no rush, no burst of energy and no manifestation of rage in the music, just something implacable and hard as stone.

The biggest quality of this score is how much it communicates and how powerful it is with a very minimalistic and quiet style; “Revelation” is an almost seven minute long cue that sent shivers down my spine as few horror scores were capable off and it did so quietly but with such a dark presence that my heart was still beating hard enough minutes after the cue was gone. Once again I imagine the face of a quiet person but so expressive that I can only back up in terror even if that person says nothing to me. This cue stares at me from the darkness with hateful eyes like the scariest physical manifestation of a nightmare. The elegiac choral section that builds up at the end makes me want to drop to my knees and ask for forgiveness as I await punishment.

The elegance returns then with the soft and somber piano and the splendid strings that just communicate to a very special place inside me. I missed a dark and quiet orchestral score like this and for sure I wasn’t expecting to get it from Tom. I recognize the place this score takes me too and I don’t want to leave it. It’s a very intimate score that the composer wrote without being afraid of exposing himself to his audience; to me Brimstone is a composition that presents emotions and characters without the slightest trace of judgment no matter what their actions might be. They kill, they hate, they forgive, they hurt and yet the music makes me feel the impossible weight of these actions while in the same time making me understand them and perceive them as normal. As brimstone itself is not the explosion but the sulphur of hell and is considered a symbol of damnation so this score burns slowly, painfully and eternally, taking its time and leaving a lasting mark; maybe this is why everything feels so normal, because this music presents a hell but a hell where everyone around me is just as sinful.

“Brimstone” is something special and unique from Tom Holkenborg; a beautiful and moving score that filled me up and then drained me emotionally. You haven’t heard him like this and this album cements his place as one of the best composers around. Do not miss this one and let me know if and how it affected you. It’s only the first release day of January but the mark has been set for the best score of the year.

Cue rating: 100 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 87 / 87

Album excellence: 100%

Highlights:

Brimstone

The Reverend

The Birth

She Belongs in Hell

I Am Here to Punish You

Revelation

Rules Are Rules

I’m a Father

I Will Kill Frank

Exodus

For the Love of God

Sanctus

Two Strangers

God Has Other Plans

Scold’s Bride

God Has Forgiven Me

Genesis

Abide

Fog

Ravening Wolves

Retribution

Watching Over Me

Author: Mihnea Manduteanu

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Distance Between Dreams – Film Score Release

By | Distance Between Dreams

Distance Between Dreams offers viewers unprecedented access into Walsh’s quest to survive and thrive in one of the most hostile environments on earth through state-of-the-art cinematography, and a custom score. Tom Holkenborg, aka Junkie XL, the Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum producer, musician, and composer mixed modern aesthetic and analog synthesizers to capture the essence of riding big waves for the soundtrack. The original soundtrack from Lakeshore Records is now for sale digitally on iTunes, Amazon and also on Spotify.

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Film Music Daily – ‘Distance Between Dreams’ Soundtrack: Score by Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL to debut December 2

By | Distance Between Dreams

Film Music Daily
‘Distance Between Dreams’ Soundtrack: Score by Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL to debut December 2

Lakeshore Records will release the soundtrack to Distance Between Dreams, featuring score by Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL (Deadpool, Mad Max: Fury Road), digitally on December 2 and on vinyl in early 2017! See track listings and more about Junkie XL at the jump.

DISTANCE BETWEEN DREAMS, the second feature in Red Bull Media House’s THE UNRIDEABLES franchise starring surfer Ian Walsh goes on sale across platforms December 2.

Distance Between Dreams (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Junkie XL

01. Stranded
02. The Shore
03. The Workx
04. Always Ready
05. Dark Beaches
06. Dark Blue Hours
07. Deep Cut
08. Distant Lights
09. Increasing Vibes
10. Jaws
11. Wave Waters

“Distance Between Dreams captures the energy of one of the most historic surf seasons on record through Walsh’s eyes, pairing vivid cinematography, with an immersive custom score by Tom Holkenborg, aka Junkie XL. The Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum producer, musician, and composer uses a mix of modern aesthetic, and analog synthesizers to capture the essence of riding big waves with elegance and drama.”

ABOUT JUNKIE XL
Tom Holkenborg, aka Junkie XL, is a Grammy nominated and multi platinum producer, musician, and composer whose versatility puts him on the cutting edge of contemporary music, as well as in the vanguard of exciting new film composers. His illustrious career started in the 1993 when he started industrial rock band Nerv and was also producing hardcore and metal bands like Sepultura and Fear Factory. Drawn by electronic breakbeats he started Junkie XL in 1997 debuting with the album Saturday Teenage Kick. Holkenborg went on to produce 5 more albums under the moniker while playing headline shows all over the world. In 2002 the producer remixer scored a number 1 hit in 24 countries with his rework of “A Little Less Conversation”. Following the success Holkenborg collaborated with celebrated artists like Dave Gahan, Robert Smith, Chuck D, and remixed artists such as Coldplay, Depeche Mode, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and many more. In addition Holkenborg created the music for video games like Need For Speed, The Sims, and SSX and commercials for global campaigns like Nike, Heineken, Adidas, Cadillac and VISA.

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Deadpool 2 announcement

By | Deadpool

Dear friends,

It is with a heavy heart that I have decided not to score the upcoming Deadpool Movie. I love this character and creating his and the movie’s original score was a monumental chapter in my life, personally and professionally.

Since it was revealed that Deadpool’s brilliant creative director Tim Miller will not be involved in the project anymore, I have undertaken some soul searching. Tim was the driving force behind Deadpool and me getting involved in this amazing project. Deadpool without Tim at the helm just does not sit right with me and that is why I have decided not to be involved in the second chapter.

It was a difficult decision, as I love the project so much and I know how eagerly the next installment will be anticipated, it’s hard to walk away from something so unique, but it also has to feel right.

Hope everyone understands. Onward and upward.

Love,

Tom

ComicBook.com – Junkie XL Will Score Justice League

By | Justice League

ComicBook.com
Junkie XL Will Score Justice League
By Brandon Davis

When Justice League rolls around in 2017, it will do so not only with iconic heroes aligning on the big screen but with what will certainly be an iconic soundtrack.

Following up his efforts on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice alongside Hans Zimmer, Tom Holkenborg, the artist known to many as Junkie XL, will return to the DC Films universe to score Justice League.

Over the weekend, executive producer Deborah Snyder confirmed Holkenborg’s return while press including Comicbook.com were on set of the super hero ensemble film. “Junkie is coming back to do the score,” Snyder says. “Obviously we have a lot of Hans’ music and themes. So we’ve worked with Junkie even outside of Hans so we’re really thrilled that he’s going to do the score.”

Junkie XL’s resume is an impressive one. His work includes Mad Max: Fury Road’s blood pumping score, as well as 300: Rise of an Empire, Divergent, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Black Mass, and Deadpool. The pressure will certainly be on for Justice League as he will be burdened with not only following up Hans Zimmer’s Man of Steel efforts and their collaborative work on Dawn of Justice, but the shadow of iconic Superman theme songs will always be looming over any composer working on the hero and his super friends.

In Justice League, fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes — Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash — it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

Justice League hits theaters on November 17, 2017.

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Wired – Thank A Man Named Junkie XL For Batman V Superman’s Ominous Sound

By | Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Interview

Wired
Thank A Man Named Junkie XL For Batman V Superman’s Ominous Sound
By K.M. McFarland

The first time composer Tom Holkenborg—better known by his nom de boom, Junkie XL—heard his music in a film, it wasn’t part of the score. It was in the movie Blade, which opens with his track “Dealing with the Roster” playing as a crowd of blood-soaked vampires dances at a rave. (Hey, it was 1998.) It was one song in one film, but it changed how Holkenborg saw his future.

“I was so surprised by how my music worked [when set] to picture that I really wanted to pursue that,” Holkenborg recalls.

Nearly 20 years later, Junkie XL isn’t an obscure electronic musician who gets an occasional song in a film. He’s the unmistakable mastermind behind three of the biggest films of the past year: Mad Max: Fury Road, Deadpool, and now, alongside tentpole composer stalwart Hans Zimmer, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Along with composers like Disasterpeace and Jóhann Johannsson, Junkie XL is leading the charge for more experimental electronic music in movies. And he isn’t just doing it with festival darlings, he’s creating bombastic, widescreen-friendly scores for mainstream blockbusters.

Remixing Elvis and Learning from the Masters

Blade may have stoked Holkenborg’s desire to write music explicitly for films, but it wasn’t a seamless transition from musician to composer. Like any aspiring hero, he had to train. “I knew I didn’t have enough knowledge about film scoring to step in and say, ‘I want to do music for this,’” he says. So when he arrived in Los Angeles in 2002, he immediately started meeting composers to learn how they worked. That year, he was asked to remix a song for a Nike commercial promoting the 2002 World Cup. The result, “A Little Less Conversation,” credited as “Elvis vs. JXL,” was an international smash hit.

Despite the global success, and the fact that the song ended up in Stephen Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven, Holkenborg still didn’t feel accomplished enough to take on big-time film scoring himself. Instead, he started assisting other composers and doing work on small indie films, giving him a series of “additional music” credits throughout the early 2000s. He wasn’t making Oscar-worthy scores, but his efforts caught the eye of Zimmer, who would spend the next couple years looking for ways for them to collaborate.

When Hans Met Holkenborg

Holkenborg and Zimmer knew each other as musicians before they started writing together. “I just knew Tom was really interested in film music,” says Zimmer, “and I realized quickly that he had a great mind for it.” But it took the score for Inception, perhaps the most noticeably influential film music since Lord of the Rings, to finally bring the two together.

“He was done with the complete Inception score,” says Holkenborg. “The whole movie was mixed, and he called me in to listen to all the cues.” Zimmer asked Junkie XL to remix a nine-minute single incorporating the major sonic themes, “in an homage to the score to have an extra track for the CD.” They continued working together at Zimmer’s Remote Control Studios, with Holkenborg contributing to the scores for The Dark Knight Rises and Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, among others, because the two composers worked so naturally together. Zimmer cites one instance when, while working on a “bad riff on the guitar,” Holkenborg took the instrument out of his hands and made the idea work. “I might’ve had the right note,” says Zimmer, “but the attitude he added to it meant it ended up in the movie as opposed to the rubbish bin.”

Snyder was so impressed with what the collaboration yielded on Man of Steel that he recommended Junkie XL as the composer for 300: Rise of an Empire. That sequel came out the same year as XL’s score for Divergent, and his inclusion in the “Magnificent Six” team Zimmer put together for the Amazing Spider-Man 2. That buildup put Holkenborg on the verge of a breakout, which was perfect, since he was about to release his most arresting score yet.

From Spider-Man to The Doof Warrior

That score, of course, was for Mad Max: Fury Road, and Zimmer was so excited about what he heard from it that he couldn’t stop heaping praise on XL’s work ahead of the film’s release. The trailer was a case study in how to build anticipation for an absolute thrill ride, and a big part of that was the thundering soundtrack. Just as George Miller’s imagination cooked up something as insane as The Doof Warrior—Immortan Joe’s blind, electric guitar-wielding herald in front of a wall of amplifiers—so did Holkenborg instill that imagery with a hair-raising cacophony.

Earlier this year, Deadpool added onto that success. Though that film uses cheeky soundtrack choices like Salt-N-Pepa’s “Shoop,” the key action scenes utilize Junkie XL’s demonstrated talent for heightening excitement. And the most indelible moments in the Batman v Superman score feel like natural progressions from Fury Road: Wonder Woman’s theme, for example, is a chorus of pulsing drums and electric guitar, and Lex Luthor’s soundtrack is a baroque combination of piano and strings.

It took over a decade, but Holkenborg is now a film composer on the same level as his most in-demand colleagues. Musically, he’s done just about everything a person can do, but now—almost 18 years after Blade—he’s becoming the go-to blockbuster guy. But that doesn’t mean its gotten any easier.

“I’ve been on every spectrum of the music industry, from an engineer and recordist, to producer, mixer, playing in bands, remixing artists, you name it,” Holkenborg says. “I can now say that it’s one of the harder professions within the industry.”

Hard, but not impossible, and if you’re going to call yourself Junkie XL, you’d better be prepared to go big. And he’s only getting bigger: His score for Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla sequel crashes into theaters in 2018.

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Billboard – ‘Batman v Superman’ (and ‘Mad Max’ and ‘Deadpool’) Composer Tom Holkenborg on His Method and Massive Year

By | Uncategorized

Billboard
‘Batman v Superman’ (and ‘Mad Max’ and ‘Deadpool’) Composer Tom Holkenborg on His Method and Massive Year
By Gil Kaufman

Tom Holkenborg (aka Junkie XL) could have been another Stereo MCs or Prodigy: a one-(or two) hit electronica wonder from the ’90s whose career peaked before quickly flaming out. Instead, he’s reinvented himself as Hollywood’s ace soundtrack superstar, providing the pulsing scores for two of this year’s biggest superhero smashes: the $700 million Deadpool and the about-to-explode Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

“I love how muscular his score for Mad Max was,” Deadpool director Tim Miller tells Billboard of why he tapped Holkenborg, 48, to write the ’80s-rific score for the year’s biggest, raunchiest superhero hit. “Clearly he had the talent and the resume, but he was so enthusiastic about the work… I loved the fact that he wasn’t at all about ‘let me show you what I can do,’ but was more interested in honoring the pop-culture music we wanted and then using elements from it to create something entirely new.”

Plus, Miller said, Grammy nominee Holkenborg is “just a great fucking guy to work with,” who always has a big smile and hug for everyone. Billboard caught up with Holkenborg less than a week before he dropped his latest mega-score, for the eagerly anticipated Batman v Superman. We talked about his deep bench of vintage synths, his sweat-filled Hollywood apprenticeship and the great responsibility of providing a soundtrack for the two biggest heroes in the DC universe.

You started playing so many instruments as a kid (guitar, bass, violin, keyboards, drums, piano), plus performing in rock bands. Was any of that useful in your second career as a composer?

It doesn’t matter what instruments you play. When I moved to L.A. in 2002 to become a film composer — I had worked on The Matrix in 2001 but they didn’t use my music in the film — I realized this is what I actually want to be, not an artist. I took meetings with composers and it sank in pretty quickly that this wasn’t going to be easy, so I decided to start from the ground up. At the same time that I had a worldwide hit with Elvis [Holkenborg’s remix of “A Little Less Conversation” went to No. 1 in 10 countries] I was a low-level assistant, chopping up samples, doing whatever I had to.

What made you realize that composing was the right path?

I have this hidden talent I had no idea about, which is “picture sense.” It’s when you instinctively know what you should be doing when you see a picture or a movie scene. [Batman v Superman score collaborator and composer] Hans [Zimmer] has told me many times, ‘either you have it or you don’t.’ It’s not something you can learn. You can learn how to make music for a string quartet or a rock track, but knowing what to do when you see a piece of film… I discovered I had that.

Did you use that skill when Batman v Superman director Zach Snyder gave you your first solo shot, with the score to 300: Rise of an Empire?

Scoring one emotion is easy: I’m angry so I’ll make an angry piece of music. What’s more difficult is when you have a thing like Deadpool, where in one minute he hears he has cancer, then he’s on the freeway chopping people up with swords, then in bed with his girlfriend, then he leaves her to go to a secret military center… all in a minute-and-a-half. It needs to shift instantly, and the true art is knowing when to shift. It took me 10 years to get to the point where I am now. I worked as a studio engineer, producer, remixer, I played in bands, toured, but being a film composer is the toughest.

I’ve seen YouTube series from your studio in Amsterdam, and it looks like a mad scientist’s lab/vintage synth graveyard. Watching you play the signature “Thriller” synth, the Van Halen “Jump” one, the Miami Vice keyboard and the actual “I Want To Know What Love Is” Foreigner synth that you used in Deadpool is like a trip through sounds of the ’80s. Where did you score all that gear?

In the 1980s and early 1990s I worked in a music store, and that’s when the first digital synthesizers were introduced. All these people came in with analog synths that they weren’t interested in anymore. They would trade them in and I would buy them, and I kept all of them. Now ones that I bought in 1985 for $300 are worth $20,000! I call myself a full-contact composer, I want to hold things in my hands, so I have a big collection of drum kits and guitars to make noise with. All those tools I’ve picked up over the last 30 years have become so handy for films.

Each one of those keyboards is so iconic, but you use them in Deadpool as if they are their own unique characters. Was that your intention?

For sure. I take care of my instruments like they’re my children. The secret is we didn’t have a lot of money so we had to come up with creative ideas to make it special… so on every level we found the right solution to deal with each problem. Tim said we really had to come up with something that works for this character, not your standard bread-and-butter action score.

The first idea was an Ennio Morricone-like western score music, which was really funny… but too funny. We needed that balance between music that was fun, but not funny. The next experiment I was sitting around the studio looking at all these synthesizers and I thought, ‘what if I did a very serious ’80s action score?’ I played around and made something that mixed Michael Jackson, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Miami Vice, played it to picture and played it for Tim and he was like, ‘boom, that’s it!’

One of the other iconic things you’ve done over the last year is write the crazy guitar parts for the Doof Warrior in Mad Max. You wanted to honor bands like Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age, not exactly your typical Hollywood score inspirations. How did you arrive at that sound?

There are session players out there that are 100 times better than me — but I have so much fun playing it myself. The Doof Warrior was so much fun when I saw that character that I just hooked up to my Orange amp and started playing for this guy. I love to create music that at least I’ve lived through. With Deadpool it was all these crazy synths that I made music with in the ’80s. With Doof it was the music I really loved — Audioslave, Kyuss — and it was fun to bring that back.

What’s the unique challenge of writing superhero music? Is it daunting to be the one [along with Oscar-winner Zimmer] who has to find the sound of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman? With great power comes great responsibility, right?

Hans and I feel exactly the same way about this. The fascination with these superheroes, these half-gods with extraordinary capabilities goes back to Greek mythology and the Bible. Batman has been around for 76 years and Batman will be around when we’re long dead and someone else will have a crack at it. The only thing you can do is really embrace the character of this specific movie at this specific time and look inside yourself and find something connecting yourself to Batman and Superman. That’s exactly what we did.

So what got you charged up to make music for Ben Affleck’s Batman?

Hans came off an incredibly impressive legacy with Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale, and told Zach he wanted me on this, for some fresh blood. I saw the film a year ago and thought about it for a really long time and then started analyzing, ‘who is Superman in this movie?’ He’s a quite different Superman than he was before. Batman is too. He’s older, he’s an alcoholic, he’s very mean to his victims… he’s a very dark character. He’s a very scary guy. That’s the film you have in front of you, and we analyzed it and talked about it and then we started trying stuff.

You also gave Wonder Woman a really big, bold sound of her own that you called a ‘banshee cry’ that people are already commenting on.

A woman at a Comic-Con mentioned that I’ve done three features in a row that have strong female characters [Divergent, 300: Rise of an Empire and Batman v Superman]. I didn’t realize that, but it was clear to me and Hans that we needed to come up with something special. We experimented with a vocalist at first, but that sounded too standard. And then Hans had this idea to use this cellist [Tina Guo] who is the sweetest girl, but when she starts playing her cello like a sword… it was the perfect match for this character.

It seems safe to assume you’ll be writing for these half-gods and monsters for the foreseeable future. What’s next?

It’s frustrating, because I have a whole lot of stuff lined up over the next two years that I can’t talk about. In the composing world I’m like a green boy, when you look at guys like Ennio Morricone and how much joy they have in their ’80s. Man, if I can do this for the next 20 years…

Beatport – Junkie XL on the Insanely Stressful, Highly Addictive World of Film Scoring

By | Uncategorized

Beatport
Junkie XL on the Insanely Stressful, Highly Addictive World of Film Scoring
By Katie Bain

“The perfect film music draws the viewer in without them realizing it’s happening.”

As a producer, Junkie XL toured the world playing for crowds of thousands. As a film composer, he reaches a vastly larger audience, albeit anonymously—unless you’re the kind of moviegoer who stays to watch the final credits.

In 2002, the Dutch artist born Tom Holkenborg relocated to Los Angeles with the goal of breaking into the world of film composition. He started as an intern, gradually building his network and going on to work with industry legends including Hans Zimmer. In the past 14 years, Holkenborg has written scores for movies including 300: Rise of An Empire, Mad Max: Fury Road, the recently released Deadpool and the forthcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

This weekend, movie stars and other movie industry so and sos will descend on Los Angeles for the 88th annual Academy Awards, with film composition icons John Williams and Ennio Morricone both nominated for best original music score.

In celebration, Holkenborg discussed the insane stresses and unique thrills of making music for the movies.

What’s harder, producing as a solo artist or composing for film?

I would say film composition demands the most out of you, not only in knowledge of music, but also dealing with the stress. Extremely long working days for months on end, dealing with egos; you’re managing what the music needs to be, but also managing people. At the peak of a project you’re managing around 200 people. It’s not only the orchestra, but the conductor, the engineer, the music editors. It’s really a lot of work.

Your job is interesting in the sense that you have the power to affect the mood and meaning of a scene with the type of composition you use. How do you determine how to play things?

That’s usually up to the director to say what he wants. You can play a very sad scene very sad, but you can also play it very aggressively. You can play a very sad scene very happy, and it really affects the people who are watching.

A good example is in Deadpool; we looked for a song for a scene in which he gets tortured pretty gruesomely, and instead of playing some aggressive or sad music, we just picked Emmylou Harris’ “Mister Sandman,” and it’s beautiful. It almost makes you smile as he’s getting tortured. It takes the heavy weight off the scene, instead of underscoring it with dark, sad music.

When I scored the Johnny Depp mob film Black Mass, there’s an action scene at the end where everyone gets arrested and you find out how many years they get in jail. Instead of playing that as an action scene, we played it super emotional. People really get sucked in because of that. You feel the tremendous suffering these guys caused to all of their victims. This is something you try with the director, who’s always the one calling the shots. But yes, as a composer you have the opportunity to show the director what the potentials are.

What was it like collaborating with George Miller on Mad Max, which leaned heavily on your compositions because it contained so little dialogue?

George Miller was very serious when it came to creating the world in which these characters lived. In that world, they’re all so incredibly serious in their roles, and because of that, we look at it as a world that has spun completely out of control, and it becomes funny to an extent. When we see these young girls dressed up as brides, and these warriors, it becomes humorous too. It’s so clever how George did that.

In that sense, I wanted to create a rock opera that was so incredibly over the top that it would fit the insane world that had been created. We did a lot of thinking and talking about that, and George is also someone who really loves to talk for days on end about the synopsis behind certain things and the philosophy of why the music sounds the way it sounds. It was really great.

Of all the films you’ve worked on, are there any scenes where you feel you did something particularly inventive or evocative?

I’m really proud of the film Divergent with Shailene Woodley, where I wrote a theme on electric guitar with Ellie Goulding singing on top of it. It works so well; we definitely hit a nerve with all of these young people who went to see that film. It’s not music you would expect from a dystopian future world where a young woman turns into a warrior, that her theme is actually an electric guitar with Ellie Goulding singing. The fact that we did do it made that character so much more human, understandable, and relatable.

How do you know when you’re on the right track with a project?

There’s a very fine balance in compositions. Sometimes the music you play against a picture actually pushes people away from the picture, instead of inviting them in. The perfect film music draws the viewer in without them realizing it’s happening.

The optimum film music for me is music that does that, but at the same time, when you play it without the film there, it’s still interesting to listen to. That’s the most important thing from an artistic point of view when you’re a film composer.

What are your favorite film scores of all time?

That really depends on the moment of the day, but a few that always come back are Ennio Morricone’s Once Upon a Time in America, and Blade Runner by Vangelis.

What’s the payoff of what seems to be a massively demanding job?

It’s really going to a theater on Sunday night and sitting with a hundred other people who have no clue what they’re going to be seeing, and they’re screaming and yelling in the theater because they’re so happy to be seeing the movie. When I walk out of the theater and people have no idea who I am and they’re talking about how the music was cool, that’s my payoff.

Bustle – The ‘Deadpool’ Soundtrack Is As Crazy As The Movie Itself

By | Deadpool

Bustle
The ‘Deadpool’ Soundtrack Is As Crazy As The Movie Itself
By Allie Funk

The new comic book adaptation Deadpool is already getting some incredibly positive reviews, with media outlets praising both Ryan Reynolds’ performance and the film’s innovative take on the superhero genre. And with the reveal of the track list for the Deadpool soundtrack, excitement surrounding the movie has only grown. The soundtrack, which was curated by Tom Holkenberg (aka Junkie XL) of Mad Max: Fury Road fame, will be released by Milan Records and features both original Junkie XL tracks and songs from a variety of drastically different artists — and these Deadpool songs can be yours right now.

There are plenty of options for where to get this album. The soundtrack has a Feb. 12 digital release date, same as the movie, at which time it’ll be available on iTunes and other digital retailers. You can also check out the Junkie XL tracks individually on SoundCloud, and many of the other artists’ songs on YouTube and Vevo. Additionally, you can also pre-order a physical copy of the soundtrack on Amazon prior to its Mar. 4 release date. You know, for your blossoming hard-copy CD collection. In the meantime, take a look at some of the highlights from the Deadpool soundtrack.

The Creators Project – How Junkie XL Brought the ‘Deadpool’ Soundtrack to Life [Exclusive]

By | Deadpool

The Creators Project
How Junkie XL Brought the ‘Deadpool’ Soundtrack to Life [Exclusive]
By Giaco Furino

Image from the film Deadpool. Photo credit: Joe Lederer. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Who’s that foul-mouthed superhero in the red spandex shooting bad guys and talking directly into the camera? That’s Ryan Reynolds as the titular star of Deadpool, which spent the weekend smashing opening weekend box-office records for R-rated movies. The new super/anti-hero phenomenon boasts inimitable dialogue, big action set pieces, and an amazing score by Tom Holkenborg, a.k.a, Junkie XL. Holkenborg, the Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum producer, musician, and composer, got his start in the big beat scene of the late 90s, went on to be the first person ever to officially remix an Elvis Presley song, and now finds himself on the forefront of modern film scoring. From his bombastic, drum-filled Mad Max: Fury Road score to his creeping compositions for the Johnny Depp-starring Black Mass, Holkenborg creates daring new takes on traditional movie compositions. In an exclusive video below, Holkenborg talks bringing together disparate musical cues and genres to create Deadpool’s synth-heavy signature sound.

Tom Holkenborg, a.k.a., Junkie XL, in the studio. Photographed by Dirk Kikstra

Holkenborg tells The Creators Project how he was brought on to create the movie’s “funky, arrogant, playful, violent music score”: “I was approached by the director, Tim Miller, and funny enough, he was raving in the 1990s in clubs in New York, and he loved my music back then. When he found out I was doing movie scores, and especially after seeing Mad Max, he was like ‘I’ve got to talk to this guy.’” After watching the movie with the director, producers, and Ryan Reynolds, Holkenborg says he couldn’t believe how funny it was, “It was hilarious. I didn’t know what to expect but it was so completely funny and it completely took me by surprise.”

Image from the film Deadpool. Photo credit: Joe Lederer. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox

“I analyzed the movie, I watched it five times, ten times, before I even started. Just to think like ‘Okay, what am I looking for here?’ And what I found was that the character stopped growing up after 1990. All his musical references are before that, he’s got a Walkman from 1983, even the suit that he made was from that time period. So I started to think I need to do something from the 80s. And I own a lot of these synthesizers that were made back in the day, and I went to great lengths to find special effects boxes that were made at the time that make the music sound the way it does.” When he finally found the right sound, Holkenborg called the director and said, “‘I think I’ve found it. It’s going to be Frankie Goes to Hollywood meets Michael Jackson meets Miami Vice… but on speed.’”

Cover to the Deadpool Soundtrack

Holkenborg says Deadpool was one of the most difficult projects he’s ever worked on because in any given scene, the emotional range could change four or five times, “I often get the question ‘Which emotion is the hardest to score?’ None, they’re all easy. The problem starts when they ramp up in quick succession. From sad to angry? That’s easy. But from sad, to an utterly funny moment, back to sad, then to angry, then to insecure, back to sad, and then comedy—all in 50 seconds? It’s like ‘Okay, I’ve got to think about this for a second.’”

Though Deadpool is already performing beyond even the most optimistic expectations, Holkenborg knew they were on to something amazing. “Working on movies like Mad Max and Deadpool, you feel when you’re working on it like ‘Man, this is special.’ And you hope the audience is picking up on it. And they did, they did massively.”

Peer into Junkie XL’s process for scoring Deadpool in the video below, exclusively on The Creators Project:

Catch up with Deadpool in theaters now and pick up the soundtrack on iTunes now and in stores March 4th.

IndieWire – Exclusive: Junkie XL Talks The ‘Deadpool’ Soundtrack & Score On The Milan Records Podcast

By | Uncategorized

IndieWIRE
Exclusive: Junkie XL Talks The ‘Deadpool’ Soundtrack & Score On The Milan Records Podcast
By Edward Davis / The Playlist

Musician Tom Holkenborg, aka Junkie XL, is perhaps one of the fastest rising film composers on the scene right now. He wrote the music for “Mad Max: Fury Road,” was tapped by Hans Zimmer to co-compose the music for “Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice,” and this weekend his music was featured in the biggest movie on the planet: “Deadpool.” In case you missed it, “Deadpool” had a massive weekend, shattering the opening weekend record for an R-rated film by over $40 million. It was also 20th Century Fox’s biggest domestic debut ever, even besting the opening of “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.”

So suffice to say, Holkenborg’s chosen well. “Deadpool” is also the highest-opening R-rated superhero movie by a massive margin, that little film called ‘Batman V. Superman’ should probably do well and ‘Fury Road’ is a 10-times nominated Oscar contender. Up next he has the western “Brimstone” with Guy Pearce and Kit Harington, sci-fi thriller “Spectral” and after that “Godzilla 2.”

Recently on the Milan Records podcast, Holkenborg was joined by Tony Giles (aka @shippingrecords), the mastermind behind the Damned Fine Podcast in the UK, to discuss the “Deadpool” soundtrack and score and how the Dutch multi-instrumentalist became a composer, producer, and engineer.

Holkenborg actually conceived the score as containing three major parts, one for Deadpool, one for his nemesis Ajax, and one for the “X-Men” characters. Interestingly enough, Holkenborg began as a regular musician, his parents buying him a drum kit when he was six. But it was his time as a 16-year-old working in a record store and being introduced to modern synthesizers and burgeoning, pre-digital musical technology that influenced him the most.

Holkenborg also discussed writing a traditional string composition for the romance section of the movie and trying to make the “Deadpool” score stick out. “The bigger the difference there is between the sound of ‘Deadpool,’ and anything that happens anywhere else in the film, the more successful it is,” he explained. “I really wanted to musically paint Deadpool completely apart from all the other characters in the film. [He’s] really his own animal and it is on screen when you see him in that wanna-be-cool, red ‘80s outfit, but on the other hand [this shift] needed to come across musically too.”

“Deadpool” is in theaters now and the soundtrack is in stores, the details of which you can find here. And Milan Records will be releasing Junkie XL’s bombastic score for the film on March 4th across various formats. Listen to one of the tracks and the full podcast conversation below.

Popsugar – The Deadpool Soundtrack Is a Brilliant, Nostalgic Gold Mine

By | Deadpool

PopSugar
The Deadpool Soundtrack Is a Brilliant, Nostalgic Gold Mine
By Shannon Vestal Robson

Deadpool is Ryan Reynolds’s raunchiest, wildest, and best movie in a long time, but we haven’t even started to talk about the soundtrack. The music selected to accompany Marvel’s baddest good guy is a nostalgia gold mine, including Salt-N-Pepa’s classic “Shoop” and some well-chosen Wham! from George Michael’s ’80s group. If you’ve just seen the movie, you will want to listen to these jams over and over again, and you can do just that here.

View Article

#NowScoreThis – Deadpool – Composer Competition

By | #NowScoreThis

#NowScoreThis – Deadpool – Composer Competition

Composer Competition Details

Based on what you know about Deadpool – via comics, film trailers, social accounts – how do you interpret his personality musically?

Enter on SoundCloud here: http://bit.ly/NSTDeadpool

Prompt: What theme would you write for such a vulgar, humorous, yet heroic character? Without hearing most of my my score or even the full context of the film, I’d like to see what you come up with.

Call it a pop quiz, if you will…. and submit your scores to my SoundCloud group by Thursday February 25th at Noon EST. Don’t forget to share your submission with your friends! 🙂

Top 3 scores will be featured on my SoundCloud and receive a signed copy of the Deadpool Movie soundtrack. Top prize will get a one-hour Skype session with me to talk about their score and ANYTHING else! -Tom

#NowScoreThis – Black Mass – Composer Competition – Winners Announced

By | #NowScoreThis

Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL’s introduction video to thank all the composers who submitted this scores for the #NowScoreThis – Black Mass – Composer Competition. “These are my top 3 scores of the many many close contenders. A round of applause everyone. You all get the Junkie XL stamp of approval!” -Tom

1st Place: Sergey Asbel

2nd Place: Nik Sharshak

3rd Place: Efraín Alejandro Méndez

ABOUT THE COMPOSER COMPETITION

I’ve seen your studios and shown you how I work in mine. Now it’s time to see what you can do!

Here’s your chance to show me your composition skills!

What theme would you have written for James “Whitey” Bulger from Black Mass? What instruments and notes would you have chosen to make viewers feel the weight of his character? Upload your theme for Whitey Bulger here to enter the #NowScoreThis competition.

The top 3 submissions will be announced and each winner will receive a fun package. The 1st place winner will enjoy (hopefully) a one-hour Skype session with me to talk about anything and everything! Show me what you can do!

#NowScoreThis – Black Mass – Composer Competition

By | #NowScoreThis

#NowScoreThis – Black Mass – Composer Competition

Update: October 22, 2015

“WOW! So much talent. So much experience. And SO many submissions!! I’m gonna need some time to go through these…. Keep an eye out for the announcement date. -Tom ‪#‎NowScoreThis‬

Composer Competition Details

I’ve seen your studios and shown you how I work in mine. Now it’s time to see what you can do!

Here’s your chance to show me your composition skills!

What theme would you have written for James “Whitey” Bulger from Black Mass? What instruments and notes would you have chosen to make viewers feel the weight of his character? Upload your theme for Whitey Bulger here to enter the #NowScoreThis competition.

The top 3 will be posted Monday, October 19th and receive a fun package. Info to follow soon. The winner will enjoy (hopefully) a one-hour Skype session with me to talk about anything and everything! Show me what you can do!

“Black Mass” Premiering at the Venice Film Festival on September 4, 2015

By | Uncategorized

(Hollywood, CA) August XX, 2015— Grammy nominated producer and composer Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL scores Warner Bros. Pictures and Cross Creek Pictures’ crime drama “Black Mass,” starring Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Dakota Johnson. Directed by Scott Cooper, “Black Mass” takes place in 1970s South Boston as FBI Agent John Connolly (Edgerton) persuades Irish mobster Jimmy “Whitey” Bulger (Depp) to collaborate with the FBI in order to eliminate their common enemy: the Italian mob. The drama tells the story of this unholy alliance as it spirals out of control. The film will have its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 4, 2015 and its North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival prior to opening in theaters worldwide on September 18, 2015. The “Black Mass” original motion picture soundtrack is available on WaterTower Music on September XX, 2015 and is now available for pre-order on Amazon and iTunes.

After first seeing the film, Holkenborg was feeling anxious; his hands were sweating and his legs were shaking because he was so impacted by the unsettling emotions of the film. He collaborated closely with director Scott Cooper, aiming to enhance the director’s vision by musically exploring the humanity and depths of the reprehensible characters at the center of the story. “In a lot of gangster pictures, you don’t feel deep wells of emotion that I like the audiences to feel in my work. Tom understood that I was making a film about humans who happen to be criminals as opposed to criminals who just happen to be humans. In doing that, he understood the sound that would take the film to its highest level and be one that would unsettle the audience, unnerve them, but also move them and stir them,” explains Cooper.

Tapping into the heart of the film with an orchestral score featuring piano, strings and woodwinds, Holkenborg created a dark theme for Bulger punctuated by a reoccurring low frequency pattern played by an ensemble of cellos. Mirroring Depp’s character in the movie, the composer transitions the vibe of Bulger’s theme by shifting the instrumentation and changing the key of the harmony for the scenes with Bulger and his wife. Holkenborg also incorporated sound design from a piano by beating the piano strings with a stick to create a deep, ominous sound for one of the most evil, notorious gangsters in American history. “Jimmy (Depp) is such an evil person, and while being so incredibly dark, there is also a lot of nuance to his character. The music needed to not only reflect him at his worst, but also needed to capture the relationship he had with his wife. His relationship with Agent Connelly was also important. I juxtaposed their themes and would use them to play off each other as the characters do in the film,” stated Holkenborg.

Tom Holkenborg has built a reputation on musical experimentation. The Grammy-nominated multi-platinum selling producer and composer’s versatility puts him on the cutting edge of contemporary music, as well as at the vanguard of film composition. He is able to draw on his extensive knowledge of classical forms and structures while maintaining a connection with popular music. His recent film credits include the critically acclaimed Mad Max: Fury Road, Run All Night, Divergent, and 300: Rise of an Empire. Holkenborg’s upcoming projects include Warner Bros.’ Point Break, inspired by the classic 1991 hit film of the same name, and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, which he is collaborating on with Oscar® winning composer Hans Zimmer. Junkie XL has collaborated with Zimmer on several projects including The Amazing Spiderman 2, Man of Steel, Shark Tale, and one of the highest-grossing films of all-time, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises.

Holkenborg’s career as an artist began in 1993 when he founded the industrial band NERVE, while producing hardcore and metal bands like Sepultura and Fear Factory. Drawn by electronic breakbeats he became Junkie XL in 1997 debuting with the album “Saturday Teenage Kick.” Holkenborg went on to produce five more albums under the moniker while headlining shows worldwide. In 2002 the producer/remixer scored a number 1 hit in 24 countries with his rework of Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation”. Following the success, Holkenborg collaborated with celebrated artists including Dave Gahan, Robert Smith, Chuck D, and remixed artists such as Coldplay, Depeche Mode, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake.

Blastr – Exclusive: Mad Max: Fury Road composer Junkie XL on scoring a post-apocalyptic blockbuster

By | Uncategorized

Blastr
Exclusive: Mad Max: Fury Road composer Junkie XL on scoring a post-apocalyptic blockbuster
By Ernie Estrella
July 10, 2015

One of the year’s biggest and most memorable films, Mad Max: Fury Road, was a cinematic work of art. Even the score was no subtle bit of craft. Rather than compose a complimentary background piece, Tom Holkenborg, also known as “Junkie XL” created an insane rock opera for George Miller’s dizzying masterpiece. Holkenborg’s score and Fury Road were celebrated at Comic-Con International as a part of the Musical Anatomy of a Superhero Panel.

The first track on Fury Road’s score, “Survive,” features three bellowing tuba blasts, that repeat throughout the film, a signal for each impending storm of madness. Tranquil, sweeping string instruments communicated the exhaustion, the torture, and anguish of the characters, while the drilling of bass drums and metal guitar riffs announced the impending arrival of Immortan Joe and his war armada. This score conveyed panic, hysteria, doom and many other abstract ideas. It screeched, it crashed, and was a realized character and was used creatively to further the story.

We spoke with Holkenborg about working on Fury Road, creating an anthem for the Doof Warrior, his process and his musical inspirations. Watch the entire interview below.

WAMG – Composer Tom Holkenborg Launching “Studio Time with Junkie XL” On May 26

By | Uncategorized

We Are Movie Geeks
Composer Tom Holkenborg Launching “Studio Time with Junkie XL” On May 26
By Michelle McCue
May 26, 2015

Grammy nominated producer and composer Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL is launching a new YouTube tutorial series “Studio Time with Junkie XL.” The series will give aspiring composers, producers, and musicians a rare glimpse into the inner workings of a Hollywood composer.

The tutorial topics will range from technical advice, such as string and drum arrangements, to programming tips and advice on how to channel your musical influences. “Studio Time with Junkie XL” launches today (Tuesday, May 26) at youtube.com/junkiexlofficial.

In addition to music, teaching has always been one of Holkenborg’s passions. He was an associate professor at ARTEZ, the Dutch music conservatorium where he developed and taught a four year music program based on all of the elements of his career. His latest teaching endeavor is an online video series that will allow him to reach a broad audience directly from his home studio and share his knowledge of composing. “I’ve always been passionate about teaching and collaborating. The ‘Studio Time’ series is an extension of that. I created this series as a way for me to share what I’ve learned as a composer with aspiring musicians, whether they’re looking for technical knowledge or are in need of inspiration,” explains Holkenborg.

Junkie XL (Tom Holkenborg) has built a reputation on musical experimentation. The Grammy-nominated multi-platinum selling producer and composer’s versatility puts him on the cutting edge of contemporary music, as well as at the vanguard of film composition. Holkenborg is able to draw on his extensive knowledge of classical forms and structures while maintaining a connection with popular music. His recent film credits include Divergent, 300: Rise of an Empire, Run All Night and George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road.

Win The MAD MAX: FURY ROAD Soundtrack WAMG – Contest

Holkenborg’s upcoming projects include Black Mass starring Johnny Depp, Point Break, and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. He is teaming with Oscar winning composer Hans Zimmer for Batman v. Superman. Holkenborg has collaborated with Zimmer on several projects including The Amazing Spiderman 2, Man of Steel, Madagascar 3, and one of the highest-grossing films of all-time, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises.

Holkenborg’s artist career began in 1993 when he founded the industrial band NERVE, while producing hardcore and metal bands like Sepultura and Fear Factory. Drawn by electronic breakbeats he became Junkie XL in 1997 debuting with the album “Saturday Teenage Kick.” Holkenborg went on to produce five more albums under the moniker while headlining shows worldwide. In 2002 the producer/remixer scored a number 1 hit in 24 countries with his rework of Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation”. Following the success, Holkenborg collaborated with celebrated artists including Dave Gahan, Robert Smith, Chuck D, and remixed artists such as Coldplay, Depeche Mode, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake.

RUN ALL NIGHT Interview WAMG

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD Interview WAMG

Composer Tom Holkenborg Launches YouTube Tutorial Series “Studio Time with Junkie XL”

By | Studio Time with Junkie XL

Composer Tom Holkenborg Launches YouTube Tutorial Series “Studio Time with Junkie XL”

Grammy nominated producer and composer Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL is launching a new YouTube tutorial series “Studio Time with Junkie XL.” The series will give aspiring composers, producers, and musicians a rare glimpse into the inner workings of a Hollywood composer. The tutorial topics will range from technical advice, such as string and drum arrangements, to programming tips and advice on how to channel your musical influences. “Studio Time with Junkie XL” will launch on Tuesday, May 26, 2015 at youtube.com/junkiexlofficial

In addition to music, teaching has always been one of Holkenborg’s passions. He was an associate professor at ARTEZ, the Dutch music conservatorium where he developed and taught a four year music program based on all of the elements of his career. His latest teaching endeavor is an online video series that will allow him to reach a broad audience directly from his home studio and share his knowledge of composing. “I’ve always been passionate about teaching and collaborating. The ‘Studio Time’ series is an extension of that. I created this series as a way for me to share what I’ve learned as a composer with aspiring musicians, whether they’re looking for technical knowledge or are in need of inspiration,” explains Holkenborg.

Junkie XL (Tom Holkenborg) has built a reputation on musical experimentation. The Grammy-nominated multi-platinum selling producer and composer’s versatility puts him on the cutting edge of contemporary music, as well as at the vanguard of film composition. Holkenborg is able to draw on his extensive knowledge of classical forms and structures while maintaining a connection with popular music. His recent film credits include George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road, Divergent, 300: Rise of an Empire, and Run All Night. Holkenborg’supcoming projects include Black Massstarring Johnny Depp, Point Break, andBatman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. He is teaming with Oscar® winning composer Hans Zimmer for Batman v. Superman. Holkenborg has collaborated with Zimmer on several projects including The Amazing Spiderman 2, Man of Steel, Madagascar 3,and one of the highest-grossing films of all-time, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. He is also currently creating new themes for EA Sports’ prestigious NFL video game franchise Madden ’16.

Holkenborg’s artist career began in 1993 when he founded the industrial band NERVE, while producing hardcore and metal bands like Sepultura and Fear Factory. Drawn by electronic breakbeats he became Junkie XL in 1997 debuting with the album “Saturday Teenage Kick.” Holkenborg went on to produce five more albums under the moniker while headlining shows worldwide. In 2002 the producer/remixer scored a number 1 hit in 24 countries with his rework of Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation”. Following the success, Holkenborg collaborated with celebrated artists including Dave Gahan, Robert Smith, Chuck D, and remixed artists such as Coldplay, Depeche Mode, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake.

Film Music Reporter – YouTube Series ‘Studio Time with Junkie XL’ Announced

By | Uncategorized

Film Music Reporter
YouTube Series ‘Studio Time with Junkie XL’ Announced
May 22, 2015

Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL is launching a new YouTube tutorial series, Studio Time with Junkie XL. The series will give aspiring composers, producers, and musicians a rare glimpse into the inner workings of a Hollywood composer. The tutorial topics will range from technical advice, such as string and drum arrangements, to programming tips and advice on how to channel your musical influences. The project is an extension of Holkenborg’s previous teaching experience as an associate professor at ARTEZ, the Dutch music conservatorium where he developed and taught a four year music program based on all of the elements of his career. The composer’s film scoring credits include Mad Max: Fury Road, Divergent, 300: Rise of an Empire, Run All Night, as well as the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Black Mass and Point Break. He is also currently creating new themes for EA Sports’ NFL video game franchise Madden ’16. Studio Time with Junkie XL is set to launch on Tuesday, May 26, 2015 at youtube.com/junkiexlofficial.

Collider – Studio Time With Junkie XL Trailer: Learn Film Composing from an Industry Pro

By | Uncategorized

Collider
Studio Time With Junkie XL Trailer: Learn Film Composing from an Industry Pro
By Haleigh Foutch
May 22, 2015

If you’ve ever wanted to learn the ins and outs of film composing from a working professional, now’s your chance. Composer and producer Tom Holkenborg, aka Junkie XL, is launching a new tutorial series on YouTube, Studio Time with Junkie XL. The series will offer rare insight into the techniques and mechanics of a Hollywood composer. Holkenborg has composed for a number of major blockbusters over the years, most recently scoring everybody’s new favorite movie, Mad Max: Fury Road. He’ll also be composing the Batman segments for Zack Snyder‘s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice alongside Hans Zimmer.

This is pretty damn cool and a very rare opportunity to learn a trade from a working industry professional. I’ve always been fascinated by the inner workings of the various filmmaking professions, so I’m definitely looking forward to checking out the tutorial series when it launches next week on May 26th. Check out the trailer below.

Studio Time with Junkie XL is born out of Holkenborg’s love for teaching. The composer previously worked as an associate professor at ARTEZ, the Dutch music conservatorium, where he developed a four year music program.

Holkenborg explains,

“I’ve always been passionate about teaching and collaborating. The ‘Studio Time’ series is an extension of that. I created this series as a way for me to share what I’ve learned as a composer with aspiring musicians, whether they’re looking for technical knowledge or are in need of inspiration.”

Here’s the full press release.

Composer Tom Holkenborg Launches YouTube Tutorial Series “Studio Time with Junkie XL”

“Studio Time with Junkie XL” Launching May 26, 2015

Watch the trailer here: youtube.com/junkiexlofficial

(Hollywood, CA) May 22, 2015 — Grammy nominated producer and composer Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL is launching a new YouTube tutorial series “Studio Time with Junkie XL.” The series will give aspiring composers, producers, and musicians a rare glimpse into the inner workings of a Hollywood composer. The tutorial topics will range from technical advice, such as string and drum arrangements, to programming tips and advice on how to channel your musical influences. “Studio Time with Junkie XL” will launch on Tuesday, May 26, 2015 at youtube.com/junkiexlofficial.

In addition to music, teaching has always been one of Holkenborg’s passions. He was an associate professor at ARTEZ, the Dutch music conservatorium where he developed and taught a four year music program based on all of the elements of his career. His latest teaching endeavor is an online video series that will allow him to reach a broad audience directly from his home studio and share his knowledge of composing. “I’ve always been passionate about teaching and collaborating. The ‘Studio Time’ series is an extension of that. I created this series as a way for me to share what I’ve learned as a composer with aspiring musicians, whether they’re looking for technical knowledge or are in need of inspiration,” explains Holkenborg.

Junkie XL (Tom Holkenborg) has built a reputation on musical experimentation. The Grammy-nominated multi-platinum selling producer and composer’s versatility puts him on the cutting edge of contemporary music, as well as at the vanguard of film composition. Holkenborg is able to draw on his extensive knowledge of classical forms and structures while maintaining a connection with popular music. His recent film credits include George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road, Divergent, 300: Rise of an Empire, and Run All Night. Holkenborg’s upcoming projects include Black Mass starring Johnny Depp, Point Break, andBatman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. He is teaming with Oscar® winning composer Hans Zimmer forBatman v. Superman. Holkenborg has collaborated with Zimmer on several projects including The Amazing Spiderman 2, Man of Steel, Madagascar 3, and one of the highest-grossing films of all-time, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. He is also currently creating new themes for EA Sports’ prestigious NFL video game franchise Madden ’16.

Holkenborg’s artist career began in 1993 when he founded the industrial band NERVE, while producing hardcore and metal bands like Sepultura and Fear Factory. Drawn by electronic breakbeats he became Junkie XL in 1997 debuting with the album “Saturday Teenage Kick.” Holkenborg went on to produce five more albums under the moniker while headlining shows worldwide. In 2002 the producer/remixer scored a number 1 hit in 24 countries with his rework of Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation”. Following the success, Holkenborg collaborated with celebrated artists including Dave Gahan, Robert Smith, Chuck D, and remixed artists such as Coldplay, Depeche Mode, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake.

Entertainment Weekly – Inside the Fury Road soundtrack: How Junkie XL scored the madness of Mad Max

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Entertainment Weekly
Inside the Fury Road soundtrack: How Junkie XL scored the madness of Mad Max
By Jeff Labrecque
May 14, 2015

You could make a solid argument that George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road works brilliantly as a classic silent movie. The narrative is literally driven by action, action and more action, and actual dialogue is spare. Minutes often go by without a character speaking to another. But filling the void is a wall-to-wall musical score that reflects the insanity and accelerating chaos unfolding on screen. It’s an immersive, pounding cacophony conceived by Tom Holkenborg, a.k.a. Junkie XL, a Netherlands-born producer who’s become a close collaborator with Hans Zimmer. After finishing work on Zack Snyder’s 300: Rise of an Empire, Holkenborg was invited to Australia to meet Miller and discuss ideas for the sound and the fury of Mad Max. They immediately hit it off but it would take 18 months of painstaking work to get every note right.

Mad Max: Fury Road debuts Thursday at the Cannes Film Festival, and when it roars into U.S. theaters this weekend, Holkenborg’s sounds of post-apocalyptic ultraviolence will inevitable be coursing through the brains and blood of exhilarated audiences. Holkenborg loved the original Mad Max films and the idea of composing an “over-the-top rock opera” that helped define the world Miller had in his head was an opportunity of a lifetime.

After nearly two years of Mad Max, Holkenborg is busy with other notable projects, including the Johnny Depp crime drama Black Mass, the Point Break remake, and a little movie called Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The 47-year-old was silent on following in the footsteps of Zimmer and Danny Elfman to craft a new Batman theme, but he positively gushed about working with Miller and the world of Mad Max. Oh, what a day. What a lovely day!

The soundtrack to Mad Max: Fury Road iTunes

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How is George Miller different? How does he treat a film’s music differently than other filmmakers you’ve worked with?

TOM HOLKENBORG: His way of getting to the final result is a very peculiar one. He can get into details right from the start. When I started on this film, there wasn’t a beginning and there was no ending—there was just the whole middle part, and that was two and half hours long. So I would score scenes, and he would get so detailed on little things. My approach would be, “You know, let’s get the broad strokes first, and then while the movie’s developing, let’s then go in to details.” But George goes straight into details. And his sense of detail is just remarkable. The amount of detail that goes into the cars, that goes into the makeup, that goes into the set design, that goes into how the camera is moving and how he cuts a lot of his shots. And that goes with the music too. George and I worked together in an extremely pleasurable fashion over the last 18 months to get this film done, on the music side of things, which is unheard of nowadays in film scoring. It’s usually like a few months or sometimes even a few weeks.

Fury Road is an avalanche of a movie. As the person responsible for the sound of that chaos, where do you even start?

I knew when I saw the film that we needed to come up with something that is a completely over-the-top rock opera. The wasteland George created and the caricature of the dictator Immortan Joe, the look of the war boys, the cars—it’s so over the top. The music needed to match that. If you see a movie like this, you might think you want to score this movie with a cello and a flute, but you’re not going to get away with it. You need to come up with something bold. So what I started doing first is focus on that one truck that had the crazy drummers in the back, and the guitarist up at the front. I made something for these guys, and that music became broader and almost became the voice of Immortan and the voice of the war boys.

The other thing that I did is, I needed to come up with something that was very simple but very identifiable throughout the film. Mad Max is this really troubled character, with a really troubled past. He only has one instinct, and that is to survive. So when he breaks out of the Citadel and meets to save the women—or helps to save the women, I should say, because Furiosa [Charlize Theron] is the real heroine—he is really this uncontrollable animal. When he is in that big truck with the women, the women don’t know if at any moment, “Is he going to explode? Is he going to shoot us? What is he going to do?” So I wanted to come up with a very simple motif on a cello that plays, Dah-DAH. Or it plays three times. Or it plays five times. Or just once. You never know how many times. So that was kind of the musical statement that he could be dangerous. Then, where the situation seems to stabilize and he’s actually now collaborating with the women, that now becomes only two cello notes in a row—constantly two. Two feels more stable. It feels more grounded, so it feels more safe.

The other theme I came up for him early on is that bending string riff, which is really inspired by the great scores in the ‘40s and ‘50s. George and both really loved that time period, with composers like Bernard Herrmann. So that string riff is almost like a reminder of Psycho. The string riff goes like Na-na-naa-naaa-naaaaa, Na-na-naa-naaa-naaaaa. That is the scoring of Mad Max’s psychotic state of mind. He’s constantly having these really crazy flashbacks. He doesn’t know where he is, where he’s going to. His troubled state of mind. So those were actually the things that I started with.

Then, the last thing that was really left was the music for Furiosa. In the beginning, the only music that I’m using for her is a pulse. Everything around her has frenetic material, but musically, we really don’t get to know her until the point where she has the conversation with Max in the rig. That’s when the thematic music for Furiosa starts and it will continue through the end of the film.

In most action films, the composer needs to be careful not to be too over-the-top, but as you said, you almost need that here. But how do you calibrate different themes, like a more delicate track like “Many Mothers,” which showcases strings, in order to tell a story?

You’re pressing right on the pressure button there. That’s why it took 18 months. In retrospect, you can see what the main arcs are. The first arc starts when we get introduced to this wasteland and it goes all the way up to basically when that storm is over and Max just wakes up in the sand. That’s the only time where for 10 or 15 seconds, it’s absolutely silent and we just hear the sands coming off his face. And then the madness starts again. And then go all the way up to “Many Mothers,” the whole scene at night when they meet up with the women and when they’re talking—that’s when we let the pressure completely go and that’s when we come back to humanity. These people are interacting as humans, as warm people. And that’s why the music needed to be small and organic—none of that craziness of before. Then, obviously, the next day, when they’re going back, that’s the last arc, all the way to the end.

You mentioned the guitarist and the drummers, who are like heavy-metal buglers for the war party. It is such an insane pursuit and the sound is just wall-to-wall. Did you see that scene and those characters first so you could equate the sounds with the visuals or did you have to fill in the blanks yourself?

Let’s put it this way, if George did describe it to me, I would have no idea what to expect. When I saw the film, the very first shot I saw almost two years ago was that guitar player. That was the first shot I saw. And I was like, “What the hell is this?” It starts with Max escaping the Citadel and then these guys get on the war rig and drive out. Then, the camera pans around and I’m like, “What the hell are these drummers doing on the back of the truck?” And then, the camera pans around, and I’m like, “Oh my God, is that a guitar player?” It’s insane. So that was the first shot I saw, and the cue that’s on the soundtrack that’s called “Blood Bag” is that cue. So it was actually the first thing that I did.

How would George express his likes and dislikes?

He would say, for instance, when we play Scene A with Furiosa, “When I hear the music, it really hits my stomach and I really get this tight knot in my stomach that something isn’t quite right and that I feel for this character.” But then if we go to the other scene, let’s call it Scene B, [he might say], “The music is not talking to me. It’s not saying to me, ‘Oh, I should be feeling this or I should be feeling that. It just leaves me at a neutral place.’ And I don’t find that compelling.” That’s the kind of language he would use.

I was interested by the HitFlix you gave where you talked about how you and George both shared a mathematical approach to art. Can you explain that?

It’s the relationship between certain numbers. See, if you have rhythm that does, dun-dun-dun and you keep repeating it, at a certain point, it sounds boring and you miss storytelling. So what you want to do is, every two, you want to break it up slightly different, and then every four, you want to break it up a little bit more at the very end, and then over an arc of eight, you do the same thing. The relationships between those numbers is extremely strong, and [if you mix them up artfully], you get a sense of telling a story, just within the rhythm. So George and I started this conversation, and he was like, “That’s so remarkable because that’s what I do with film editing.” He goes by a certain amount of shots, and then a secondary amount of shots, and then he changes things around so it makes sense with the rhythm. He would see the film multiple times in a week, and then he would say, “I feel we need to speed up this shot by two frames,” or, “I think we need to take frames out there.” It’s remarkable how detailed he worked like that and he demanded that from the music too. It was for me Film Scoring 101 masters class. I learned so much from George, what true scoring of filmmaking is. And I will really miss that on the future projects I work on, because I got so used to this extremely safe environment that I call George Miller and it was an honor to work with him on a project like this.

Eighteen months is unusual. Did you know it was going to be such a lengthy experience?

No. [Laughs] People warned me. At the time, I was also working with some other people who have worked with George in the past, and I said, “Oh, this thing’s going to be done in April 2014.” And they joked and said, “You mean April 2015, right?” “No, no, no, April 2014.” They said, “Good luck, my friend.” And they ended up being right.

They say a film or a painting is never finished; it’s just abandoned. Did it ever feel that way? Moments where you were like, “I can not listen to this any more. I love it, but I’m done.”

You’re totally right on that one, but that’s the true power of George Miller. He knows that he’s asking so much from the people that work on his film, but he has this amazing way to re-energize the project. And that’s a magic that you have or you don’t have—and he has it. So he gets together with everybody and he has this really inspirational talk, and then once we leave that meeting, like 15 months into the film, you’re ready to revamp and revise all these things about the movie in order to make it better.

Did you have to turn down other assignments because of Mad Max?

Yeah. There’s one other movie that I did during this whole time period, which was Divergent. Mad Max was on hiatus for two months, which gave the perfect time to work on Divergent. But apart from that, I did non-stop work on this film. Yes, I got other offers. But I just wanted to see this through with George. When I noticed that this was going to happen, I just basically didn’t take on anything else. And I’m very happy I did.

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IndieWire – How the ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ Score Paid Homage to Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo’

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IndieWire
How the ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ Score Paid Homage to Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo’
By Bill Desowitz | Thompson on Hollywood
May 13, 2015

Film composer Junkie XL (Tom Holkenborg) goes heavy metal and neo-classical for the return of ‘Mad Max.’

Junkie XL (Tom Holkenborg), the founder of NERVE and part of a new breed of film composers that merges electronic with symphonic (“Divergent,” “300: Rise of an Empire”), found the perfect blend for George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Think rock opera meets “Vertigo.” It’s this high-octane, retro revitalization that has also landed him “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (he’s scoring the Dark Knight in contrast to Hans Zimmer’s Man of Steel) and the remake of Kathryn Bigelow’s iconic “Point Break” thriller.

In fact, it’s all about going to musical extremes for Holkenborg: “It’s an extraordinary world that  [George] created and it needs something that’s so crazy. At the same time, there are parts of the movie where all madness, all that gruesome dictatorship disappears and we are left with five people that come together with human interactions that we would now see as normal in our world. But they’re not normal in that world, which is the survival of the fittest. That is the point where it becomes really human and that’s where the score gets really small and really intimate.”

But for the most part, “Fury Road’s” vast landscape — the Outback from hell — provided Holkenborg the opportunity to utilize nearly 200 instruments and an 80-voice choir in a frenzy of beating drums, sweeping strings and growling electric guitars (pretty much anything he could get his hands on).

“The idea with the rock element was that there is a big truck, almost like the Cavaliers for the Armada, with a bunch of drummers ramming away in the back and a guitar player in front, that follows the war party in the desert to hype them up as they chase Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy down with a bunch of girls in the [War Rig]. The guitar player is very scary, almost like Animal of The Muppets,” Holkenborg suggested.

However, for the film’s second-half (the composer’s favorite part, actually), Holkenborg strips it all down with woodwinds and strings as the driving force in an homage to Bernard Herrmann’s “Vertigo” love theme (which itself was a new twist on Richard Wagner’s legendary “Tristan and Isolde”).

“I think the highlight for me is that after all that madness the film comes to a halt and that’s where the music gets really small, really emotional…but they have such a hard time letting go of all the madness and the fear of being chased,” Holkenborg added.

But  the composer found inspiration in the indelible scores from the ’50s and early ’60s. “George and I are really big fans…. It was a time for neo-classicism so they looked back at what [the great composers] had done and put a new spin on it. And at the same time, they were very experimental, especially Bernard Herrmann and Jerry Goldsmith. They found a unique way to make the music work with the picture without saying too much, giving you a comfortable feeling or a very uncomfortable feeling.”

The hard part was pleasing Miller, who doesn’t like to be emotionally led by music or have the music get ahead of the narrative. “We did a lot of experimenting to find the right tone and to express love and affection. The thing about the scores of the ’50s is that they were pretty shameless about starting the love theme full on when a woman enters the room. That’s a different approach to what we do now in 2015 where we go at it slightly,” the composer offered.

While Holkenborg won’t openly discuss “Dawn of Justice” (March 25, 2016), he has a hard time denying that the contrast between darkness (Batman) and light (Superman) makes for a great operatic-like fusion. Likewise, he’s also tight-lipped about DP/director Ericson Core’s extreme sports take on “Point Break” (opening Christmas), so all we can presume is that he going to new musical extremes for that one, too.

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Billboard – ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ Composer: ‘The First Time I Saw The Movie I Thought, This Is So Insane!’

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Billboard
‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ Composer: ‘The First Time I Saw The Movie I Thought, This Is So Insane!’
By Frank DiGiacomo
May 13, 2015

George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road is a two-hour white-knuckle adrenaline rush that sounds as feral and unpredictable as it looks. That’s thanks to a score composed by Tom Holkenborg, 47, the Dutch musician producer and engineer also known as Junkie XL.

Holkenborg’s wide range of work includes playing in the industrial rock band Nerve, remixing the 1968 Elvis Presley single “A Little Less Conversation” to make a No. 1 hit in 2002 and working with Hans Zimmer on the score to the upcoming film Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, making him a prime candidate to help Miller reboot his post-apocalyptic franchise.

Miller hired Holkenborg for the job in the summer of 2013 and the two worked for 18 months melding sound and vision, developing a pulse-pound and often hair-raising score. On it nearly 200 instruments were used — many of which were played by Holkenborg — conjuring primal drums, searing guitar riffs and string and woodwind passages that recall the work of Alfred Hitchcock’s longtime collaborator Bernard Hermann.

Holkenborg talked to Billboard about how he got the gig and worked closely with Miller to produce a movie and a score that, he says, “is like nothing out there.”

How did you come to be the composer for this movie?

In late July or early August of 2013, I was wrapping up 300: Rise of An Empire and I got a phone call from Darren Higman at Warner Bros. Pictures, who’s the executive vice president of the music department. He said, “So, what are you doing tonight?” And I said, “I’m just wrapping something up and should be out of here by 6.” He said, “I’ve got a plane ticket for you. You should come to Sydney.” I said, “What?” And Darren said, “I’m in Sydney. I’m with George Miller right now.” And it hit me, ‘Oh shit, he’s talking about Mad Max.”

How could you turn that down?

A few hours later, I was on my way to Sydney. Darren picked me up at the airport and we drove straight to the office. I’m thrown into this theater completely jet lagged and I’m shown a movie that has no beginning and no end. It’s just has the middle part and it was two or three hours long. And I was going, “This is so insane!” And then I met George. He said, “Go to the hotel, sleep on it and tomorrow we’ll meet and you should tell me what you think.”

I was so excited, I couldn’t sleep. I came up with this whole plan about what the score could be. The next day, I delivered kind of a PowerPoint presentation and at the end of it he shook my hand and said, “I want you to be the composer on this film.” And then I flew back to Los Angeles that day.

What were the challenges of composing the score for a movie like this where there’s little dialog and a lot of explosions and extremely loud noises?

What it comes down to is how can you make a two-hour car chase thrilling and exciting? How do you maintain an arc that doesn’t wear people out? The movie starts to build when Imperator Furiosa [Charlize Theron] takes off with the women in the War Rig and it continues to build as the guys go out to chase her [with Max tied to the front of one of the vehicles] into a storm. At the end of that sequence, Max regains consciousness and 20 minutes into the movie we have the first moment of near-silence.

So you collaborated very closely on the movie?

Yes. Over the last 18 months, I went to Sydney seven or eight times and the last trip lasted 11 weeks. I packed up my whole studio, my assistants, music editor, mixers, my family and we all went to Sydney for 11 weeks. And every day George would sit with me from early in the morning until late at night to go over the scenes and see what we could do better. When we weren’t in the same place, we would Skype twice a week for hours on end.

George and I both have a deep curiosity. We weren’t satisfied if a scene worked well. We wanted to know why it works well and once we’d figured that out, we wrote a mini-handbook that could be applied to other scenes. Another thing that connects us is George is extremely precise. He goes into the most insane details and that’s exactly how I am with music. When I played in bands in the past I would drive my fellow band members to absolute madness to get it right.

Can you give me an example of that obsession with details?

There’s a sequence in reel six when Max and the survivors are about to go back to the Citadel. It’s the last big arc of the film — about 20 minutes long — and I would say that we worked on that last 20 minutes of the film for eight weeks nonstop. He would take a frame out and then we would watch the whole 20 minutes and he’d say, “I’m missing the frame now. The scene feels too fast. He would work on it and work on it until he felt it was exactly right. And the same went for the music. It was like, “Okay, we’re now so far into the film, we’ve had so much noise, we had so much violence, we had so much explosions already — how are we going to make these last 20 minutes the most exciting 20 minutes of the film?

How many musicians did you use to record the score?

I basically played everything myself except for the strings and the brass that we recorded as a section in Sydney. I played all of the percussion, I played all of the guitars. I worked with Nick Zinner, the guitarist from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on a couple of cues. He’s got this really wonderful tone, so we added some guitars. I handled the percussion, which took forever to record.

The war drumming is intense. So when you see those guys drumming on the truck that’s actually you?

I’m not on the truck in the movie, but, yeah, the sound is me. That alone took me weeks and weeks to record.

And the guy with the flame-shooting guitar who’s suspended from the Doof Wagon — is that you, too?

Yes.

Those guitar riffs cut right to the bone.

That was the idea. The first time I saw the film the movie started with the opening shot of the truck driving out where you see the drummers and then the camera pans around and you see the guitarist suspended in front of all those speakers. I was like, “What the hell?!” That was the very first piece of music I wrote. It’s called “Blood Bag.”

Oh right, because Max is tied to the front of one of those vehicles and his blood is being drained into the driver. Why is that vehicle with the guitarist and the drummers called the Doof Wagon?

I used to live in Venice California and when guys would drive by in their cars with extremely loud hip hop playing where the low end rattles the windows and the whole street. I think that’s called a doof car or something like that. George came up with that.

Did any other movie scores or music serve as inspiration when you were composing for Mad Max?

I will say that George and I looked very carefully at some movies that were made in the ’40s and ’50s because we both have a fascination for music that was made during that time period. We listened to film composers like Bernard Herrmann, but also those from the classical world, such as Samuel Barber, who wrote Adagio for Strings. It’s a great time period and we used elements of it for Fury Road. There’s this string riff that is part of Max’s theme that is a very high, annoying pitchy sound that gets out of sync and that’s very much what they would do in the ’50s.

Hermann worked extensively with Alfred Hitchcock.

George and I discussed their relationship many times. It was at a point where, on the set, Hitchcock would call Hermann and say, “You know the scene that I talked to you about? Were you thinking of writing music for it?” And Hermann would tell Hitchcock, “Yeah, I have this, this and this in mind.” And Hitchcock would say, ” Good, then I’ll make the scene a little longer.” George and I talked about the same things. We took inspiration from each other’s work and we did it over and over again. And that takes 18 months. You can’t do that in a few weeks.

The movie and the score really do work as a whole.

When you see the film you don’t necessarily think about it in terms of, “Oh the music was great or this shot was great.” The overall experience is that the movie makes sense and you feel excited to the very end. I went to Rotten Tomatoes this morning and I saw that it was 100 percent fresh. [It’s currently at 99 percent]. I’ve never worked on a movie that was a 100 percent fresh based on 25 or 30 reviews. It’s fantastic. It’s heart warming because, after working with George on this movie for 18 months, we’ve become very good friends.

I had an artist’s career for 25 years before I got into film scoring and I never felt the intensity as I do with a film like this.

Have you and George talked about doing a sequel?

I haven’t discussed it with George. It’s something he needs to think about, but you know, he takes his time. If you look at his IMDb page you see that he puts out a movie every five to seven years. So, maybe in 2022, you know?

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HitFix – Junkie XL On Creating The Insane Soundscape For ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’

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HitFix
Junkie XL On Creating The Insane Soundscape For ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’
By Drew McWeeny
May 6, 2015

The moment I was sent the download link for the “Fury Road” soundtrack, I loaded the entire score onto my iPod specifically so I could play it in my car.

Big mistake.

The first time through, I didn’t even realize how fast I was going, but around the time we got to track four, “Blood Bag,” I glanced at the speedometer and was startled to see I had crept up past 90 MPH. I pumped the brakes, and since then, I’ve had to fight my own natural inclination to speed up as I have been assaulted by the intense cacophony that is Junkie XL’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” score.

I had about five days to live with the score before my phone rang one morning last week, and I jumped right into what turned out to be a great conversation with Tom Holkenborg, the Dutch composer who is building a reputation for himself as the guy who writes the music that’s big enough for Max’s trip down the Fury Road or Batman’s first head-to-head with Superman.

DREW MCWEENY: Hi, Tom, how are you, sir?

TOM HOLKENBORG: Good. How are you?

DM: Doing well, thanks. First of all, wow. I think the movie is unbelievable, and your score is such an essential part of that experience that I really don’t even know how to pull the two of them apart. I think what you and George did together is truly exceptional.

TH: Thank you, man.

DM: Watching it last night, it is such a bizarre, crazy, fever dream of a movie, and it feels like a movie that a 25-year-old would make, saying, “I have something to prove.” This is not the film of a 70-year-old guy who’s been away from live action for almost 20 years. Can you talk about becoming involved with him and your first reaction to the world he built this time?

TH: Basically, I was working on “300: Rise of An Empire,” and I was finishing it up and I got this phone call from Darren Higman, the vice-president at Warner Brothers. He called me and said, “What are you doing this afternoon or tonight?” It was a Monday, and I said, “Well, you know, I’m just finishing up some mixers, but I’ve got time. What’s going on?” He said, “Well, grab your toothbrush and some toothpaste. You’re coming to Sydney.” I said, “Okay. What is it about?” And he said, “Well, I’m in Sydney, and I’m talking to George Miller.”

Then my heart started racing. It was like, “Fuck, is he talking about ‘Fury Road’?” And he was. He was talking about “Fury Road.” So before I knew it, I was on a plane. I get there at 7:30 in the morning. Darren picks me up. We go straight to George’s offices, and it’s like 8:30 in the morning, and I’m watching this film completely jet lagged, you know? And it was remarkable. It was very long at that point, and the beginning and the ending wasn’t even shot. It was just the whole middle section of the film. And I came out of there dreaming and thinking “What the hell did I just see?” It was so overwhelming. Then I talked to George and it was supposed to be a quick handshake and then leave the next day. But in that conversation, we were talking about things that we were both interested in, and then I brought up math. He was like, “Math?” I said, “Yeah, you know, I’m very interested in number sequences and how math works in general.” And he was like, “Wow, that’s how I approach my films.” So we hit it off with this conversation for three or four hours. We got interrupted a number of times by his assistant saying, “George, you have a phone call to make.” And he was like, “Oh, we’ll do it later. We’ll do it later.” So we talked for hours. He said at the end of it, “Why don’t you just think about this movie and come up with an idea musically with what to do and we’ll talk tomorrow?”

So the next day, I sat with him and he sat across from me in a chair, and he had his hands folded on top of each other and he was leaning backwards. He was like, “Well, tell me what you feel.” I started this two-hour monologue of what I think the movie was and how we should approach it. When I was done, he was quiet for a second. Then he stood up, gave me a handshake, and said “I want you to be my composer on this film.”

DM: Oh my god, man. Having met him a couple of times now this year, something that I had been waiting to do since 1982 when I first saw “The Road Warrior,” he strikes me as everything you would hope he would be, but wrapped in a package you wouldn’t expect. There is something very sweet about him and very gentle in conversation. He comes across as this lovely, charming man who has all of that mayhem going on inside of his head. When you look at “Fury Road,” and you realize that came out of that sweet little man, it is the craziest dichotomy. There are so many extraordinary sequences in the film, but one of the images that immediately popped out last night… and by the time we saw him the third or fourth time, cheers would erupt every time this character appeared on screen… was The Doof Warrior, that crazy dude on the front of the truck with the guitar.

TH: (laughs) Yeah.

DM: That is such a crazy place to go in the film, and I love the way your score wraps around that once it shows up and starts to play with what’s happening between them. The whole thing feels like it’s very operatic from beginning to end.

TH: That was the first conversation with George, based on those giant scenes. I told him I wanted to make a 2015 version of a rock opera. The worlds that George created, these worlds where everything become tribal and people are in a different place, where they’ve tattooed themselves and hurt themselves, and they paint their faces. It’s back to this tribal world in the worst possible way, where it’s survival of the fittest. At the same time, this movie is an analogy to where we are in the world with all the dictatorships and all the wars and everything that goes on everywhere. When I saw that, I felt we needed music that needed to be so over the top on the score, that builds and builds until it lifts these characters out of the crazy world around them.

DM: What I love is that even as extreme an image as that is, and you laugh the first time you see it just because it’s so audacious, is that there’s nothing in Miller’s world that isn’t thought out and carefully constructed and serving some real function to the characters, not the filmmaker. I love that this is a war party and the drummer and the guitars are meant to rile these guys up the way, you know, drummers or the bagpipes or any of those military instruments did. It’s a really brilliant way of having both a crazy image and yet something that is truly part of that world. The whole film is full of that stuff.

TH: Yeah, and he did it really detailed this time. The idea with the score was that the drums and the guitars are always there from the first time we see the war party. But then every now and then, we actually see the guitar player and he gets like a real featured moment. Then, you know, it disappears into the background. There are also moments when the war rig, the big truck with Charlize and Tom Hardy and the girls, when they get stuck a couple of times, you could still hear that rumble in the background of the drums and the guitars approaching, you know, just coming towards them. That was another thing that I wanted to create constantly, that sense that they’re being chased and they’re coming closer and they’re coming closer. I think those moments were really successful, and you get to feel that fear that they’re feeling.

DM: They sent me the score last week so I had about a week to live with it and drive around with it and play it in the car, and I will admit that may not be the best place to play it. I had a moment during the week where I looked down and I was listening to “Blood Bag” and doing 90 without any effort whatsoever. I just had my foot down, and I was like, “Okay, perhaps I shouldn’t do that. Maybe I don’t want to actually drive like I’m on the Fury Road,” but there is an almost undeniable pull to the way the music works in the film. You are always leaning in because there’s that sense that something’s coming and building. You play with dynamics extraordinarily well in this, and there is stuff where it is almost an assault. There’s also stuff that is so lyrical and quiet and unlike anything I’ve heard you do before. I think that mix makes it a really compelling listen on its own even not married to the images.

TH: Well, this is a really good example where this is not one of those movies which I have made a lot where a composer comes in four weeks before the deadline and you quickly copy whatever the temporary score is on the movie when you start. This is a cooperation of nineteen months between me and George. I’ve been to Australia a number of times, and during the final process of finishing the score, I was there with my family and assistants for twelve weeks. We packed up the studio. We took everything. We flew it out to Sydney to really work together, you know, very, very closely. George took so much time to actually hang out with me and just talk me through the scenes and how we like to perceive certain things. It was so close that the music that is now in the film is between the two of us, where storytelling and character building was very important, so that all of this is as a result of that. If you just play the score on its own, you feel the film, and you feel the dynamics of the film. You feel the way it rolls, but you also feel the terror of the Immortan, and you also feel the suffering of the women and the heartfelt moments when they come together and realize they might have a solution.

DM: I feel like with film scores in general, we are in an age where there is a sort of saneness to a lot of what we hear in movie theaters. Part of that is because the same five or six composers have done everything for the last twenty years, it feels like. Part of it is just because I think there is a fear to try new things. This score is very radical. I can’t imagine it was an easy collaboration in the sense that you just automatically got there. There’s stuff that you do that I’m just… listening to it in the car, I love the way that there are actual car sounds and engine noises used as part of the tracks. It’s something you might not notice if you’re watching the movie, because there are so many cars in the film. But you literally use it as an instrument.

TH: There are a lot of resamples of cars and also from animals because I wanted to make sure that these people came across so primal that I did a lot of resamples of animals like dogs, lions, monkeys, birds. I would slow them down or speed them up, or even edit in foreign languages, you know. Because really we have languages from all over the world recorded, like small phrases, and time stretch can really do weird things with them, and they’re all part of the music. So when you hear it, it becomes this really awkward experience, like “What am I listening to?” There are certain things that will sound familiar, like drums or strings, but even with the strings, we did really weird things where they get out of tune and then we did like sound design versions of them. My favorite era of film scoring is the late ’40s going into around ’65 with composers like Bernard Herrmann and the earlier work of Morricone. So there are a lot of references in the score to that, too.

DM: It’s interesting you bring up Morricone. One of the things that I’ve been fascinated by recently was when I got a chance to talk to the Wachowskis. They worked with Tykwer on “Cloud Atlas” and, for the very first time, tried a different situation where they recorded the score first and then would play it on set for the actors to interact with. They loved it. They say they’re doing that from now on. They did it with Giacchino on “Jupiter Ascending.” I know that Leone did that sometimes with Morricone and would play that stuff on set. I think it becomes a radically different experience when the actors are reacting to the sound of that. You guys worked for so long on this. Was there any of that, because you said that when you initially saw it there was no beginning and end yet. So was there any of your work that was done when he went in and shot those sequences, or is this something that was entirely done by you to the finished image?

TH: I know that George played the music to the actors when they came in to do the ADR to make sure that they felt the complete presence of how they would be in the cars musically but also how the scene would work. When you shoot an action movie like this, you film everything at a pretty slow speed. The cars are not driving 80 miles an hour. They’re driving like 10 miles an hour. So it’s very interesting when you talk to these actors, and I met a few of them when George was doing ADR in Sydney. They had no idea how crazy this movie actually was until they saw it. Even the costuming was crazy and their makeup was crazy, but the way that it’s filmed and then how it’s edited is a whole different ballgame. Once they saw rough cuts of their scenes with the music that I did, they got a whole different idea of how they should have handled the ADR.

DM: There is a thing that you do several times in the score where it almost feels like strings or certain types of instruments are trying to bleed through the noise and it’s like it comes up out of the subconscious. You just hear a hint of it and then it’s gone again. I thought what was interesting visually this time is that Miller makes Max’s ghosts external. He is definitely carrying around everybody he’s ever failed to save or everybody who’s ever died around him. We do see that Max is haunted. We see actual flashes of it this time and interaction with it. I think it’s a slightly different Max. Your score has that feeling of memories bubbling up and things that you’re trying to keep suppressed struggling to the surface. It really is remarkable how thematically you and George seem to work together.

TH: You know what’s interesting too is that that specific thing that you’re talking about is one of my ’40s and ’50s references. It’s a string group, a small string section that plays nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah – nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, you know? They play that and they play it from really quiet to really loud and then they disappear. And basically Max in this movie is a very troubled character. There are certain flashbacks that when we see it for the first time, it doesn’t even make sense what all these flashbacks are. It doesn’t need to make sense. All that it does is it’s saying this is a really troubled character that is haunted by the past and especially in the beginning when he escapes. He has been in so many situations where people die because of his actions or he couldn’t save them, and of course from his initial experience that he had in the first movie where, you know, he loses his daughter. He’s a very troubled character. That theme, that string theme that you mentioned, constantly comes up in the movie to remind him of his past and eventually that string theme becomes less insistent as he becomes more successful in helping these women.

DM: I love when film music and film works together so well, like it gives you that extra something, that emotional something. It really feels like when score is at its best, score is essential to the character. Not just background noise. Not just, okay, now this sounds nice. But you really are adding that extra something. When you’re reading a novel, for example, you can spend two pages describing how someone feels. You can do that and evoke that in a simple four measure thing that you do, and I find that so essentially valuable. You and George play with dynamics in this to such a degree that it becomes very physical. Your score is a physical thing when you see this in a movie theater because of the way George has mixed this.

TH: It’s quite remarkable how we did it. I mean, in any scenario this movie is a composer’s dream. Not only because there are so many incredible characters to play around with, but then at the same time, you also have a director that knows when music needs to be heard and other moments when sound effects need to be heard. Not because oh, we need to hear sound effects, no, but because the scoring demands it. He is so very clever when it comes to mixing, when it comes to creating sound effects, when he steers me directionally, about what we need to do thematically. What was interesting, too, is that I know the films that George has done and he’s worked with amazing composers in the past. John Williams. Maurice Jarre. It’s quite remarkable, and I was so surprised that he was open to this really oddball approach to the score because it’s so out there compared to the movies he has done in the past. He was saying, “No, no, no. It has to be like this. It cannot be traditional. It’s not what this world is. It’s not what this movie is.” It was interesting that after our initial meeting, I scored three really long scenes. One starts in the beginning of the movie when Furiosa takes a left turn and then she gets chased by these spiky cars and then the war party closes in and then we go all the way into the storm and then the scene ends when Max wakes up in the sand. That was one scene I scored. The second scene I scored was the whole night scene which we call The Night Bog, when it’s dark and they get stuck in the mud and these guys come chasing after them. Then the third scene that I scored was [GIANT HONKING CHARACTER SPOILER REMOVED]. So I sent those three scenes and he had no notes. He approved them right off the bat. He was like, “This is what I want my movie to be.” And then from that point on, we went through this amazing collaboration for 17 months by working at other scenes and how thematically these scenes need to be connected. It was an amazing time period.

DM: I hadn’t seen “Beyond Thunderdome” in a while, and I’ve been rewatching the movies with my kids who are just the right age. They’re becoming action junkies and I honestly think George is going to break their brains when they see the new one. It’s funny you mentioned him working with Maurice Jarre. My favorite film of all time is “Lawrence of Arabia,” and I did not realize when I saw it as a kid how much “Lawrence” is in “Thunderdome,” especially in that score.

TH: (laughs) Yeah.

DM: He definitely asked Jarre to do a riff on that. Max is even costumed like Lawrence several times in the film. It’s very strange, but it’s also playful. That’s the thing about George Miller that makes him George Miller. Lots of people can direct action, although I would argue few can do it the way he can, but what makes him extraordinary is that playful, weird, unique sense of humor in the midst of mayhem and carnage and horror. I can’t think of anybody else that would make a movie as funny as “Fury Road” that still has the balls of “Fury Road”.

TH: I agree. He’s got a tremendous sense of humor. It’s fantastic and it’s worth remembering that he’s also the director of “The Witches of Eastwick,” which is one of my favorite films that he did besides the “Mad Max” trilogy. It’s remarkable how he plays with darkness and humor in the film. The balance of this film is slightly different, but he’s very, very good at that. What we have in common is that we’re both nice easy people to get along with, but at the same time, we do have our dark sides. And we use that dark side to fulfill our creative needs. That’s what I really like to do. I have no desire to be a dark person in real life with my wife, my kids and my friends and my family, but I love to be it in my musical world. I can pull out the nastier stuff, so it’s great to find a director where I can fulfill that need and serve their film.

DM: My final question. Obviously you know what your next job is [he’s writing the score for “Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice” for Zack Snyder], and it’s a very big job. One of my pet peeves with what Marvel has done with the Avenger series, and one of the few places I think Marvel truly dropped the ball, was I don’t feel like they gave each of the Avengers a distinct enough sonic signature in their own film, whether it’s a theme or whether it’s a sound or anything. If they had nailed a theme and a sound for each character, then the “Avengers” score could have been a really unique piece of work where you merged all these themes together and played with that cross-over. I just don’t think they had a strong enough sense of what they were doing to pull that off. You’re going into a situation where you’re scoring a film with two of the biggest icons of all time, I would argue, and you are following up a movie that had an incredibly strong sonic signature. The “Man of Steel” score is, no matter what anybody thinks of that film, an adventurous, exciting score. I think it really signs Superman in a different way and made it clear this wasn’t the John Williams Superman. Is there anything daunting about stepping into a thing where you’re dealing with such giant icons?

TH: The only thing that I can say, because there’s an agreement with Warner Brothers and Zack not to say anything whatsoever about the upcoming film, is that Zack and I had a meeting a long time ago, and Zach was explaining it better than anybody else. I can so relate to that. These movies, and I would include “Mad Max,” because I could see a scenario where long after George is not around, like 50 years from now, someone could say, “Oh, Mad Max, that’s so iconic. We should try and make a film for it for the audience in 2085.” These are movies, and these are themes, and these are characters that are larger than all of us in this life. The only thing you can do to approach it is to really make it your own and just give it your vision, give it your feeling, give it your intention. Become that character for a month or four or five, musically speaking. Just do the best that you can and give it all your heart. That’s all you can do because you know for sure that at a certain point in time, somebody else will be asked to do that same thing.

“Mad Max: Fury Road” will be in theaters May 16.

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Junkie XL Provides the Intense, Character-Driven Score for Run All Night

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Junkie XL Provides the Intense, Character-Driven Score for
Run All Night

In Theaters Nationwide March 13, 2015

Run All Night score album available March 10th, 2015 on Water Tower Music

(Hollywood, CA) Grammy nominated producer and composer Junkie XL provides the raw, gritty score for Warner Brothers’ crime thriller Run All Night starring Liam Neeson, Ed Harris, and Joel Kinnaman. Directed by Jaume Collett-Sera, the film follows Brooklyn hit man Jimmy Conlon (Neeson), who finds himself haunted by the sins of his past when his estranged son becomes a target of his longtime best friend, mob boss Shawn Maguire (Harris). The film opens in theaters nationwide March 13th, 2015. The Run All Night original motion picture soundtrack will be available on Water Tower Music on March 10th, 2015.

Inspired by the film’s themes before being brought on to the film, Junkie XL created a 55 minute sketchbook of music that he envisioned for the movie to present to Jaume Collett-Sera. “First, Darren Higman (Vice President of Music at Warner Brothers) explained the story to me in detail. He did it so well that I got very excited and was inspired to start writing a music for the movie. This suite became a musical sketchbook that I later could pull from. After five days of writing, I was able to see the film. Funny enough, it felt like all of the music I wrote would work very well for the film. I continued to write without picture until I had 55 minutes of music. I then met with the director, Jaume, and played the music for him. He who was very excited. All of the main themes that I came up with in this initial writing process ended up in the film,” explains Junkie XL. This sketchbook will be included as a bonus feature on the Run All Night soundtrack release.

Junkie XL musically approached the film as a character study, creating a layered score for Run All Night that goes beyond the traditional borders of the crime thriller. “I wanted to write music that was reflection of the psychological state of the characters as opposed to just the action on screen. The music needed to underscore the characters’ wide range of emotions. To accomplish this, I incorporated deep, brute feeling drums with cello solos,” explains Junkie XL. Channeling the classic “hit man” thrillers of the 60s and 70s, the composer didn’t want the score to overwhelm the action sequences. “There is a great chase scene in the film where I purposefully didn’t want to use any music. The action and sound effects needed to drive the scene, so the score can come in at the end of the sequence and put you inside of the character’s mental state in a way that you don’t typically explore in modern action films,” explained the composer.

Junkie XL (Tom Holkenborg) has built a reputation on musical experimentation. The Grammy-nominated multi-platinum selling producer and composer’s versatility puts him on the cutting edge of contemporary music, as well as at the vanguard of film composition. Junkie is able to draw on his extensive knowledge of classical forms and structures while maintaining a connection with popular music. His recent credits include the box office hits Divergent and 300: Rise of an Empire. Junkie XL’s upcoming projects include the highly anticipated Mad Max: Fury Road releasing May 15th, 2015. He is also teaming with Oscar® winning composer Hans Zimmer to score the upcoming film Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Junkie XL will score the music for Batman with Zimmer composing the score for Superman in the film. Junkie XL has collaborated with Zimmer on several projects including The Amazing Spiderman 2, Man of Steel, Shark Tale, and one of the highest-grossing films of all-time, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises.

Holkenborg’s artist career began in 1993 when he founded the industrial band NERVE, while producing hardcore and metal bands like Sepultura and Fear Factory. Drawn by electronic breakbeats he became Junkie XL in 1997 debuting with the album “Saturday Teenage Kick.” Holkenborg went on to produce five more albums under the moniker while headlining shows worldwide. In 2002 the producer/remixer scored a number 1 hit in 24 countries with his rework of Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation”. Following the success, Holkenborg collaborated with celebrated artists including Dave Gahan, Robert Smith, Chuck D, and remixed artists such as Coldplay, Depeche Mode, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake.

300: Rise of An Empire and Divergent Success

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Very proud to share that both 300: Rise of An Empire as well as Divergent are box office number 1’s. I am so proud and also fortunate to have been working with two great teams and studios. Working hard on more great scores! -Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL