He did the soundtrack for Ocean’s Eleven, Hollywood loves him and he’s best mates with Bobby Gillespie. So why is DAVID HOLMES playing in Scotland for free?
Words: Catherine Bromley
ome Get It. I Got It. So goes the title to the new mix album from David Holmes. It‘s a conﬁdent statement. but one the Irish DJ and producer is justified in applying. This is an album of exceedingly rare funk and soul tracks blended
effortlessly with the experimental. sample-based electronica of
his latest production project. originally called Family Fuck. but softened some to become Free Association. David Holmes has ‘got it' all right. And with three artist albums. four film soundtracks and two almost unbearably funky mix albums under his belt. he‘s making people with a passion for music fall over themselves to ‘come get it'.
Not that long ago it was club promoters calling up to see if
Holmes fancied playing some techno records. while musician mates such as Bobby Gillespie and Jon Spencer wondered if he wouldn‘t mind remixing their latest material. In more recent years it‘s the Hollywood big league that has come knockin‘ at the door of the Holmes residence. a trend that started in 1998 when Danny De Vito‘s production company went looking for a score for Steven Soderbergh‘s sizzling crime caper ()ut (2/'.S'iglrt .
‘They had a copy of my album Let 's (Iet Killed and they'd shelved it for a rainy day.‘ says Holmes in a slow and considered Belfast drawl. ‘()ut Of Sight came along and they thought that the vibe
they got me over to meet Steven Soderbergh.‘ On meeting him. Soderbergh would quickly come to realise that it was not just Let 's Get Killed that made the chain-smoking. artificially blond. 33-year-old Belfast boy a suitable candidate for soundtrack commissions.
been composed with specific narratives in
mind. It was the beginning of a relationship that
has stretched all the way to his brilliant score for this year‘s ()(‘ean 's Eleven.
David Holmes started as a DJ at the age of fifteen. Inspired by punk. mod. ()()s Latin American sounds and the burgeoning acid house scene. his first record ‘De Niro‘ (1993). produced with fellow DJ Ashley Beedle and released under the pseudonym the Disco livangelists. heavily sampled l'innio Morricone’s score to Once Upon A Time In Amet'iea. In 1994. Holmes himself released a track called ‘Johnny Favourite‘. dark techno strongly imbued with the mythic power of the film Angel Heart. Production work at this point included the epic remix of Sabres ()f Paradise‘s ‘Smokebelch ll‘. using sinister samples of military drums.
Sampled sounds of footsteps. church bells. prison doors slamming and military drums informed ‘No Man‘s Land‘. Holmes‘ personal response to In The Name ( )f The Father and the debut album from which this track was taken. This I-‘iltn's Crap.
of that album suited the vibe of the movie and does have a bullshit-free envuronment; depending on Practically every piece of music David Holmes Who YOU’re
had made displayed a cinematic bent and had working
[.et's Slash The Seats. comes across like a collection of soundtracks to nine short films.
With his debut artist album completed. Holmes continued working as a techno 1)]. across the UK but based at his Belfast residency Sugarsweet. which later became Shake Ya Brain. Although film scores doubtless pay considerably better than playing records for two hours at someone else‘s club night. Holmes still finds time occasionally to unleash a mix of northern soul. rare funk 45s. old school hip hop and psychedelic soul on an unsuspecting public. Conveying his passion for music direct to a club audience is something he has never tired of. And just as his early production work prepared the ground for the film soundtracks he would go on to score. years spent DJing also acted as an ideal traineeship.
‘DJing is very much like making music to film. because you're taking people on a journey. from start to finish.~ he says. ‘That really. really has helped me when it comes to writing music and arranging music to a film because a lot of the same things apply like rhythm and pace. different highs and different lows. And having continuity within that. where the different elements work off each other.‘
Variety is paramount to Holmes and just as every DJ set is different from the last. every film he‘s commissioned to score demands a fresh approach. 'The great thing about soundtracks is that every film you do is completely different. so it requires a completely different mind and a completely different vibe.~ he says. ‘lt‘s constantly changing and that suits me because of the way I operate. I can‘t be working on the same thing all the time; I think that would drive me mad. So I love a bit of variety. yeah. I'm a music lover first and foremost and it‘s good to get in and out of different things. I‘m able to do that and I wouldn‘t have it any other way.‘
In and out of different things. it just so happens that this music lover man is now in and out of the Hollywood big league. Unsurprisingly. film score projects began on a much more modest scale for Holmes and although he’s about to score the soundtrack to George (‘looney‘s directorial debut ('onjessions ()fA Dangerous Mind. his first commission came from TV drama queen. Lynda [.a Plante. She came after his action on hearing Let's Slash The Seats. Having serviced her with incidental music for the TV drama Supp/y And Demand. Holmes then undertook his first film. Resarreetion Man. directed by Marc livans in 1997.
Armed with this experience and that of incorporating spoken word on his collection of tales from New York (‘in let's (Iet Killed. Holmes was in a prime position to meet sex. lies and videotape director. Steven Soderbergh. to discuss the (hit ol'Sig/it project.
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