James Holden

the James Holden success story reads like a catalogue of contradictions. 2003’s collaboration with vocalist Julie Thompson, “Nothing”, was picked up by legendary UK house label Loaded, then hailed by trance legend Tiesto as his tune of the year (“This will become a true classic!” – Tiesto). Holden has remixed everything from quirky Cologne pop on Crosstown Rebels to mainstream dance pop on Positiva; New Order to Britney Spears; Black Strobe terror-electro to System 7 psy-trance and delicate Lo Recordings electronica; fast-rising young upstart Nathan Fake to Kirsty Hawkshaw’s timeless classic “Fine Day”. Meanwhile the chunky techno earthquake of “A Break in the Clouds”, the debut release on his own Border Community label, has become an underground European techno classic, still flying out of the warehouse over two years after release, and winning Holden a firm following amongst the ever forward-thinking German dance fraternity.

More recent developments on the studio front include new Holden & Thompson track “Come To Me”, out now on Loaded, and Holden’s “The Wheel”, featured on the seminal Cocoon Compilation E. A good fistful of sterling Holden remixes continue to do the rounds: the nintendo acid and trippy vocal mixes of Britney Spears’ “Breathe on Me”; a psychedelic electro-trance version of Nathan Fake’s “The Sky Was Pink”; the dancefloor dub of System 7’s “Planet 7”; and the frantic animals of Andre Kraml’s “Safari” for Crosstown Rebels. Waiting in the wings for imminent release are the speaker destroying basslines of his reworking of Black Strobe’s “Nazi Trance Fuck Off”, a twisted dub of Lo Recordings’ Milky Globe, and an epic remix of a track from the new Depeche Mode album, whilst the long-awaited EP worth of new Holden tracks on Border Community nears completion, gearing up for an appearance next year.

James Holden’s own DJ sets embrace the same spirit of eclecticism as his productions, uniting his own tracks and remixes with melody rich acid house, techno, electro and downtempo through a good deal of Cycloops sampler and CDJ-1000 wizadry, as demonstrated on 2003’s groundbreaking Balance 005 mix CD. “I like a certain feel in music – the epic stuff, sad songs, interesting noises – rather than a certain genre,” explains James. “People have realised how boring it is when someone plays one style for two hours. I never wanted to DJ like that.” Over the past five years, this steadfast, unique musical vision has won Holden an army of dedicated followers the world over, and the coming year will see James write the next chapter in his musical manifesto, in the form of a new mix compilation for Resist, with business continuing as usual on the touring front, including his quarterly residencies at Barcelona’s The Loft and New York’s Spirit.

James’ DJ sets are always topped off with a huge helping of previously unheard fresh young production talent, many of whom have found a home on his own Border Community imprint. The label has gained a reputation as a breeding ground for similarly free-spirited genre-benders, fusing subtle dancefloor anthems with alternative leftfield interpretations and handy dj tools. Names like Nathan Fake and The MFA are now following James’ lead and beginning to leave their own unique indellible imprints on the production world. James is also keen to take his troop of multi-talented live acts and DJs on the road with him, bringing the Border Community roadshow to a town near you. “Border Community is my favourite thing that I do at the moment,” he enthuses. “It is really rewarding seeing the young artists we release go on to do great things.”

Just turned 26 years old, James Holden now finds himself exactly where he wants to be. As the digital producer par excellence he is blazing a trail through as yet unchartered territory, showing those who follow in his wake how it can, and should, be done. As a DJ he gets to travel the world, surprising and delighting in equal measures, and enlarging his band of followers at every port of call. And at the helm of his own buzz label Border Community he is proving himself to be quite the A&R man, discovering like-minded souls to help turn his musical vision into reality and constantly striving to give something special back to the record-buying public. Underlying these three components of the James Holden recipe for success is an unerring belief in his own vision and a refusal to do things the way others tell him they always have been done. He is well into the process of carving out a niche all of his very own, and is not about to let anyone stop him now.

© 2012 Sweetchilli