Music Interviews

Interview: JXL

Interview: JXL

Elvis Presley made a surprise return to the top of the singles chart in 2002 with A Little Less Conversation – reworked by Dutch dance artist Junkie XL.

The song was used by Nike in a World Cup advert, and it made JXL, aka Tom Holkenborg, the toast of the pop world as well as earning him a huge worldwide club hit.

Since then he has been hard at work in his Amsterdam studio creating a new album, A Broadcast From The Computer Hell Cabin.

It features collaborations with respected musicians from soul legend Solomon Burke to electro wizard Gary Numan.

When it comes to raising expectations, JXL could hardly have raised them higher.

“I didn’t feel the pressure,” he counters. At 36 years of age, Holkenborg is hardly a new kid on the block. In fact he says he’s quietly enjoying his heightened media exposure.

“After the huge success (of A Little Less Conversation), a lot of things became a lot easier for me,” he says contentedly in a barely discernible Dutch accent.

He claims that fame hasn’t changed him personally, “but it has changed my professional life. You move up to a new level and work with different people on different budgets – and you travel a lot more luxuriously!” he laughs.

“I was like, ‘Oh my God, it’s Gary Numan!'”

That fame led to a backlash against his name in some sections of the UK press, but he insists the “Junkie” moniker has nothing to do with drugs. “My friends called me Junkie for a really long time because I spent so long in the studio. They’d say ‘Hey Junkie, get out of there!’ The XL stands for Expanding Lyrics,” he says somewhat enigmatically, before clarifying: “Trying to push the boundaries of dance and pop music.”

JXL cites Numan, Pink Floyd‘s Dark Side Of The Moon and t.A.T.u. producer Trevor Horn’s production on 1980s albums for Art Of Noise, Grace Jones and Frankie Goes To Hollywood as his major influences. He had a vocalist in mind for each of the new album’s 20 tracks and was delighted when all his first choices agreed to appear on the record. His overwhelming favourite was Numan, the first of the artists into his studio, who provided vocals for the track Angels.

“I was like, ‘Oh my God, it’s Gary Numan,'” says Holkenborg. “It took a couple of days to mellow down, to step back from being a fan and communicate on a producer level. But it was a really good vibe.”

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