The Caped Crusaders Composers: Junkiestice League (Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL) - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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The Caped Crusaders Composers: Junkiestice League (Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL)

Chris Morley has a little more conversation about another Caped Crusader Composer...
As we gear up for the Zack Snyder cut of Justice League, time for a slight DC detour as we consider the man behind the entirely revamped score - Junkie XL aka Tom Holkenborg.

Holkenborg had actually completed a full soundtrack for Snyder before the director stepped away following a family bereavement, Joss Whedon then came aboard behind the camera & replaced Tom with Danny Elfman for the film originally released into cinemas in 2017.

You might understandably know Holkenborg better as a DJ, his first album under the Junkie XL name coming in the shape of Saturday Teenage Kick in 1997. He'd originally started as a producer before branching out into electronic music and releasing the fruits of his labours as contributions to the soundtracks of motor racing games like Need For Speed & Test Drive 5.

The late Nineties found him making his first moves into film scoring outside his native Holland with his music used in Blade & The Beach before a massive hit with a remix of Elvis Presley's A Little Less Conversation – the first time the bequiffed one's estate had allowed his music to be so treated.

Having moved to Los Angeles Tom began to concentrate more on film music, eventually finding a like mind in Hans Zimmer, who invited him to his Remote Control Productions studio to work on the likes of The Dark Knight Rises & Man Of Steel from the DC cinematic canon.

Master & apprentice, as it were, are also part of a collective known as the Magnificent Six alongside Pharrell Williams, Johnny Marr, Michael Einziger, Andrew Kawcyzinski & Steve Mazarro, who first came together to work on The Amazing Spider- Man 2 for Marvel.

Fittingly there was a role for Holkenborg in the composition of Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, the lead-in to Justice League itself. Tom answered the Junkie-signal as flashed by Hans to help him flesh out the music - though Zimmer still wrote all the main cues himself. The junior of the two partners did at least have some awareness of the source material.
“It comes with a certain responsibility because these characters are iconic. So many people grew up with the original comics or with the first movies or the TV series.”
But by his own admission had next to no knowledge of what would be required of him as a film composer starting out!
"I knew I didn’t have enough knowledge about film scoring to step in and say, 'I want to do music for this.'"
How better to learn than start meeting some actual cinematic men of musical steel? And so began a run of contributing additional music alongside the big boys before he caught Zimmer's ear.

Knowing that Tom was interested in the craft, Hans brought him on board for Inception before another set of ears, belonging to Zack Snyder, heard his work on Man Of Steel and recommended him for the job of composer on 300: Rise Of An Empire.

And Holkenborg has big ideas for his revisit to the Justice League...
“I feel I have better ideas now… The two-hour cut I was working on in ’16 and ’17 was just like hammering and hammering, you know, just to get to the end of it.

And now, when people see this movie, there’s insane action sequences, but when you come down from it there’s ten to fifteen minutes of storytelling where you really understand what the world is, where these characters come from, and what is at stake.

So, it’s not like, it starts with action and goes to the end. It’s a really well-balanced four-hour experience. The two-hour version was so high-octane. There’s things in the original Justice League score that were great, but for me that score became tainted because I was booted off. “
But now he's happy to be back with Zack, so to speak!
“To be honest, the reason why it’s called the ‘Snyder Cut’ is that there was a Snyder Cut. I knew quite a long time ago that this was in the works and that it existed. This was not decided overnight. I had already done a lot of work for this project. It’s so exciting to see this version of the movie finally coming alive.

Zack put a lot of time into the original version, I put a lot of time into in the original version, so it is great to have closure and that this is finally coming out.”
And he's clearly learnt a lot regarding the nuts & bolts of cinematic scoring in the years between cuts.
“Different characters have different musical statements to those same characters in the past. Much like their stories in the comics, they change and evolve over the years. So, what was a great theme for Superman in the 70s doesn’t mean that it is the right theme for Superman in 2013.
When the director takes on a superhero character, and when a composer takes on the superhero character, they should do what feels right inside them. You should come up with a theme that inspires you for that character. “
Most of the themes you'll hear when you give the Snyder Cut a spin at least have roots in what we would've expected as part of the overall package for the original 2017 release.
“Some of them I did the groundwork on four years ago, but as you grow as a composer, you look at what you did and maybe have a better way of doing it now or a better idea. It was inspiring.

I would get an idea in my downtime and think, ‘Oh, let’s rework this thing. Let’s do that.’ Because I knew for a while that this was coming, I had the time and space to shape it into its best possible form.”
Time, then, for the pre-Whedon Justice League to finally get its glad- rags on....

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