“don’t be afraid to start again”
Chances are that at some point you’ve danced to, driven to or watched the video of the 2002 remix of Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation“. The big-beat hit was the last piece of dance music that Tom Holkenborg, aka Junkie XL, made before opting for a more precarious career path – as a film composer. Guided by a self-destructive streak and a willingness to become a student all over again, the Dutchman climbed that mountain.
Today, his composing credits include…
- Mad Max: Fury Road
- Black Mass
THE RED BULLETIN: After a successful career in music production which culminated in that big hit single, you moved to LA in 2003. Was it hard to start at the beginning again?
JUNKIE XL: No, it was fine. I have this tendency to be self-destructive, but usually good things come out of it. Even in my artist days, I would make 10 songs and people would say, “You’re almost there!” but I’d say, “No, this is shit!” and throw everything away and start over again, climbing up that mountain. It’s a good feeling, you know. From here, it can only get better.
But so many live in fear of hitting rock bottom…
It’s fine! You never die…unless you do. I have this constant desire to search for something new. Not because I’m dissatisfied with what I have, but because I start losing that external incentive to keep the creativity going. So the radical shift from artist to film composer… I can’t stress how different those things are.
What about the instincts you had to rely on in your new career. Were they different?
Well, there were none. I mean, yes, I could make music, and I had an identity and knew what I was all about as an artist, but I had to develop it for a different medium, a different culture. Then I hit rock bottom again in 2008. It wasn’t happening for me in LA, which was really rough. I had bought a house and it was in escrow, but it fell through and the whole studio was in storage, so I just went back to Holland. I was willing to stay there, and I thought, “Let’s give this up, this adventure.” But eventually I came back to LA and everything started turning around. It was a 180 from the previous six years, and I’m happy I found the energy to pursue it again.
What do you attribute the turnaround to?
I think it has something to do with who I am as a person. If I pursue something I really want, for some reason I can never pull it off, but if I maintain a little bit of distance, for whatever reason, stuff comes to me.
For the full interview with Junkie XL, listen to The Red Bulletin podcast…: