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Wednesday 12th, February 2003
James Holden

It may be a cliche, but its actually very true: every new generation brings its own unique sound to the different music genres. It has been time for new life in a dance scene that seems to have settled down in a rather repetitive style for some time. In a time where trance, hardhouse, progressive and garage seems to be declared dead by media every other year, its nice to get introduced to an artist that lets music speak its language, rather than being part of a hype.

James Holden has overwhelmed clubbers around earth with his unique taste in timeless and exciting music. Some would prefer to call it “progressive house” , others “progressive trance”. Lets just call it music.

James made an instant impact on the scene with ”horizons” (Silver Planet, InCredible), an immense trance track in its purest sense. It was picked up early by “Way Out West” maestro Nick Warren on CDR, and names like the influential Timo Maas and Pete Tong who later made it “essential new tune” at the end of January 1999. His follow-up was entitled “One for you”, and further established him amongst the top producers, and then came a string of highly acclaimed tracks like “I have put out the lights”, “solstice” and some amazing remixes, like “Accadia – Into the dawn” and “Blu Peter – Funky suite” just to name a few. Due out in March 03 is “Nothing”, a track that has been causing mayhem amongst fanatics for many months already. One might think producers would loathe that more than anything? -“on the one hand, I write music so people can hear it, so I don’t mind, but then on the other hand, the first mp3 of “nothing” that was out there was just a rough mix I’d played out somewhere and so its kind of annoying, and also now lots of labels are going bankrupt I think the people that rip mp3s have to take some of that blame. labels and producers will probably change the way they work to make sure people buy the tracks rather than steal them though, so its not a long term issue.

Making it in music, as in any other place takes a lot. Some people claim all you need is the right connections, while others rely strictly on their talent. In a business that sees an increasing number of producers and DJs, James Holden was recognised at once. “ Just to be unique, and especially for producers, be careful what you sign, more labels than you’d imagine are rip-off artists..”, says James. Can the fact that you were classically trained a child give you an axtra edge? “ I don’t know, I think maybe it’s not the classical training but the fact that it was my dad that taught me piano – he taught himself when he was younger and was always playing when I was growing up, so i was lucky to grow up in an environment where music was appreciated.. I guess now the music theory comes in handy in production and djing, but dance music has different rules so its mostly common sense. I think it takes a lot of luck to get noticed at any point, as well as having a good tune or being a good dj. The thing with djing is that thousands of people can mix so the hype bubble has to deflate a bit unless djs try a bit harder to push it.” And being a young produer/DJ, most of us have to start out with pretty crappy equipment, young Mr. Holden was no exception: “I started out with an old pc and my stereo system, and now I have a new pc and a better stereo.. a midi controller keyboard and some midi sliders make my life easier but all you really need is a computer and some studio monitor speakers”. What sparked your interest in this music?`Coming from a punk rock band, theres quite a difference? “ I discovered sequencers before I’d really got into dance music – I used to write tunes on a crap amstrad computer that could play 3 sinewave bleeps at once, but in the end a physics teacher at my school lent me a load of tapes of techno to show me what I was missing and that was it..

There is talk about “the next trance generation” nowadays. While parts of the 96,97,98 and 99 generation has started to focus on increasing their families, a new generation has found new technology to bring the sound further. How do you work on a song? How do you build it up production wise? “sometimes I get an idea and go make it, sometimes I’m just playing with new plugins and I start something, then its just a case of smoking weed until I’ve come up with all the ideas, then I spend a few days doing the arrangement and all the little audio edits”. One of his favorite tools is called “buzzmachines”: “ the program’s called ‘buzz’, the website to get it is buzzmachines.com .. the reason I love it is I can come up with patterns quickly and easily in it, and also now its changed a lot there are possibilities for madness that you cant get anywhere else. I always bounce my parts out and do audio edits in cubase sx now, as I’ve got really into that kind of production style recently, and within a couple of years I think there’ll be a replacement for buzz that merges the two.. the best thing about it is that it opens up production to everyone, without them having to spend crazy $$ on equipment or software.” Will we see an artist album by James Holden soon? “ I’ll do an artist album one day and I’m looking forward to it, but at the moment my priority is to get my own label started and put out good music, and to carry on enjoying the djing.” How has it been to work with legends in dance music like for instance Sasha? “ a bit surreal really, but at the end of the day we’re all just people, no matter how many people know your name you still have to shit.

A natural step for a talented producer like James is to start DJ’ing, something he has done in a rather smooth way. He is hottly tipped amongst the favorites to take over from guys like Oakenfold, Seaman and Warren, but what does he enjoy most, Djing or producing?: “ both! I’ve begun enjoying djing a lot more recently, since I got a sampler and keyed all my vinyl, I feel like im doing something worthwhile rather than playing other people’s records one after the other... I have loads of gigs this year! Half way through last year I finally went with a proper dj agent, so I’ve got a lot more dates and a whole load that I’m really looking forward to this year. .. What do you like most, big events or small clubs? “ both, they’re good in different ways, but the one’s ive enjoyed the most recently have been the smaller ones.” Do you prepare yourself in any special way before you do a Dj set? “ fresh nappies..

As “superclubs” seems to die one buy one, magazines give up and CD/vinyl sales are going down, some poeple blame media and bad publicity amongst clubbers, while others chooses to blame money hungry mafia men who rules the scene. What is your view on this? “: I think things go in circles and electronic music will never die, and the music industry does need a clean-out, there are so many people I know who have been screwed by labels, myself included, and I think a return to the underground will maybe make the money-orientated people go work in big business where they belong”.. So, what is in your opinion the worst thing that could happen to the dance scene? “ haha, no idea at all.. maybe a dj version of pop idol would be pretty bad.. (my girlfriend just said ‘that’s what bedroom bedlam is!!’ haha What do you think about all theese copies and new versions of Madonna’s “like a prayer”, the “recycling trend” ? “ depends – im a bit sick of it – the charts are full of café del mar 2002 etc.. which is shit, as are people who do a prog-friendly version of an old track when djs could just as easily play the original and make it sound new and fit in by the way they play it. But then sometimes it turns out good..” There is a rumour floating around, that you dont like progressive music, is there any truth in this? “ haha. To be honest a lot of straight prog bores the ass off me, I never got the point of the drums and dark noises thing, and that whole scene just sounds really dated now..” How would you reply to a person that says “dance music is shit, I could make that in 2 minutes. Just get some beats and a dull melody”? “ there’s no answer to people like that, its just their loss.” People like to put eachother in categories, like in Germany its all about harder trance, in England progressive and breaks is huge, Netherlands is trancey, the US is more D&B oriented.... out of which country do you think the best music comes? “ I don’t know, good music comes from everywhere – there is a definite sound to some country’s output – at the minute I like a lot of german electronica (like the kompakt and kanzleramt labels) and french techno (the youngsters, agoria and this silvertone – electrondes record that gwill morris told me about) – definitely the best stuff anywhere is the stuff that is outside of a big stagnant scene..” What kind of music do you listen to when you are sick and tired of beats? “ when I listen to music to relax I hardly ever listen to dance music, I’ve always been more into leftfield electronic stuff and odd guitar things, but I like all kinds of stuff..” What do you think when you hear the word “trance”? “ not a lot! I like trance, as long as it doesn’t get too full on..

James Holden have been one of the most popular people on the Trance.nu board for quite some time now. With the release of “Nothing” and and more Dj sets around the globe in a nice pace, its not very likely his popularity will diminish. When we posted about this interview on TNU the forum and my personal email was flooded with messages about how much people loved him and his work:

Ask him how he feels that a certain young man who goes by the name of LoveTurnmills thinks he is the greatest thing Britain has produced over the years... Dont mind me... I worship the soil he walks on.

james holden is a true musical genious.

thanks to everyone for the kind words.. I don’t really know what to say!
nothing’s coming out on loaded at the start of march I think, but they’ll probably let a few promo’s out before then for people willing to hunt them out..”
Would you describe yourself as an artist who would like to take a political stand, or would you much rather like to leave that to others? “ I think the fact that I get interviewed and have the opportunity to say stuff means I should, but not too much as no one likes a preachy mf. http://www.stopesso.com http://www.stopwar.org.uk So mate, what will you do in 20 years? “ I don’t know, hopefully I’ll still be involved with music.. I’d love to carry on making records and maybe move into production for other artists sometime..” Any final words to your fans? “ just thanks for the kind words and support, I really appreciate it. oh and take care, be good and don’t hurt any animals.

Name: James Holden
Aliases: holden, holden&thompson, ariane, ogenki clinic (with gwill morris), mainline (with hywel dunn-davies + sometimes duncan ellis), + some other collaborations that don’t have names yet!
Age: 23 ˝
Website: http://www.jamesholden.org.uk
Nationality: british
Favorite dj: josh wink
Favorite producer: there are too many to mention.. josh wink, aidan lavelle (mode), gwill morris, akufen..
Favorite tune: ‘these days’ by ‘petter’ at the moment
Favorite label: again too many.. kompakt & ovum are two I buy everything I can get off
Favorite food: cheese
Favorite drink: really cold water, whiskey or strong tea
Favorite movie: no idea! Dancer in the dark maybe?


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elusive

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