×

Junkie XL Stepped Into Big Leagues With ‘Deadpool’

Dutch-born composer Tom Holkenborg, aka Junkie XL, has, in just the past two years, become a top composer for epic fantasies (“Mad Max: Fury Road”) and comic-book heroes (“Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” “Deadpool”). He’s now working on two of 2017’s biggest films, the Stephen King adaptation “The Dark Tower” and the next DC Comics franchise entry “Justice League,” although he declined to offer any details about either. We visited him in his West Valley studio, where he was surrounded by both vintage and modern synthesizers.

You had a long run in Europe, first as an engineer and producer in the ’80s, then as a prominent artist during the ’90s. What led you into film work?

I saw a track of mine being used in the first “Blade” movie, and I was like, “Man, that’s amazing.” I’ve always considered film a higher art form than music; multiple disciplines meet each other. So I got really intrigued by that. Jason Bentley, the music supervisor and KCRW DJ, invited me over. I got a taste of it and I wanted more. In 2001 I moved out here to pursue a career as a film composer.

So how did you go about it?

Pretty soon I discovered I needed to learn a lot. But I was ready for a long ride. I started interning with other composers. I started getting great alternative films from Europe. When I started collaborating with Hans Zimmer in 2011, everything started to fall into place.

What were your most valuable lessons during that time?

These other composers, especially Hans [Zimmer], pointed me in the right direction. I had to learn the language used by composers and directors, the culture of how studios work, to become a team player.

What do you consider your breakthrough film?

There were two. Hans was the main composer on “Man of Steel” and I was helping him out. That’s how I met [director] Zack Snyder. The first movie I did on my own was “300: Rise of an Empire” with Zack. Pretty soon after that it was “Divergent,” and then “Mad Max: Fury Road.” It was like a dream step up.

Now you’re doing these big comic-book titles. How did that come about?

Hans was going to do the next Superman movie, but when he found out it was “Batman v. Superman,” he’d just done three Batman films with Christopher Nolan and he didn’t want to take on Batman again. So he said, “Let’s get Tom in.” We ended up doing the whole thing together.

For “Deadpool,” you went back to a lot of 1980s electronic sounds. Why was this the right approach?

They had a really hard time finding temp music that actually worked for the character. So I started experimenting in the studio. It turned out to be “Miami Vice” meets Frankie Goes to Hollywood on acid. When “Miami Vice” came out, it felt cool and exciting and fresh. Now when we look back it’s almost like a comedy. Deadpool is goofy and doesn’t take himself seriously. The music had to be fun but not funny.

More Music

  • Dave NavarroGuitar Legends For Heroes Benefit,

    Primary Wave Music Publishing Acquires Stake in Dave Navarro's Catalog

    Primary Wave Music Publishing has acquired an interest in Dave Navarro’s music publishing catalog, master revenue streams, and writer’s share royalties, the company announced today. Navarro is credited as a songwriter on such hit songs as Jane’s Addiction “Been Caught Stealing” and “Jane Says” as well as the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Aeroplane.” Said the [...]

  • This photo shows composer Hans Zimmer

    Hans Zimmer on Recreating Iconic Score: 'The Lion King' 'Brought People Together'

    Composer Hans Zimmer is seated at the mixing board at the Sony scoring stage, head bobbing to the music being performed by 107 musicians just a few yards away. He’s wearing a vintage “Lion King World Tour” T-shirt, frayed at the collar. On the giant screen behind the orchestra, two lions are bounding across the [...]

  • Dreamville Dreamers doc

    J. Cole's Watchful Eye, All-Nighters and Weed: Inside Dreamville's 'Revenge' Doc

    Having the No. 1 project in the country is old hat for J. Cole, but the instant success of Dreamville’s highly-anticipated “Revenge of the Dreamers III” collection, which features collaborations with more than 25 artists, writers and producers (among them: Cozz, Omen, Bas, J.I.D., EarthGang and Ari Lennox), took many by surprise. The first installment [...]

  • Kanye Kim Kardashian Selling Bel Air

    Kanye West, Kim Kardashian Lobbied Trump for A$AP Rocky's Release, Source Confirms

    Kanye West and Kim Kardashian lobbied President Trump to help release A$AP Rocky from jail in Sweden, a source close to the situation confirms to Variety. The news was first reported by TMZ. A$AP Rocky (real name: Rakim Myers) has been behind bars in the country since July 2 after being involved in an altercation [...]

  • Woodstock 50 Applies for Vernon Downs

    Woodstock 50 Applies for Vernon Downs Permit Yet Again

    For better or worse, Woodstock 50 isn’t giving up on Vernon Downs, despite being rejected twice already: The producers have applied for another permit to hold the festival at Vernon Downs, according to the Utica Observer Dispatch. Town Attorney Vincent Rossi confirmed the application was submitted Wednesday. This is the festival’s third application; previous applications [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content