Holden


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At a Glance

Formed: 1997 (17 years ago)


Biography

An astonishing seven years has now elapsed since the release of James Holden's milestone debut album The Idiots Are Winning in 2006, rightfully acclaimed in such quarters as The Guardian as “The most astonishing debut in electronic music since Boards of Canada's Music Has The Right To Children”. But June 2013 sees Holden finally return in a big way, with a brand new artist album of suitably epic proportions: 75 minute long English pagan saga The Inheritors. A bold, psychedelic journey, striking a delicate balance between weighty tome and transformative trip, and with a production aesthetic ... Read more

An astonishing seven years has now elapsed since the release of James Holden's milestone debut album The Idiots Are Winning in 2006, rightfully acclaimed in such quarters as The Guardian as “The most astonishing debut in electronic music since Boards of Canada's Music Has The Right To Children”. But June 2013 sees Holden finally return in a big way, with a brand new artist album of suitably epic proportions: 75 minute long English pagan saga The Inheritors. A bold, psychedelic journey, striking a delicate balance between weighty tome and transformative trip, and with a production aesthetic that is all his own: Holden is certain that this is the album that he always wanted to make. Nobody is making electronic music as explorative as this. Whilst the title is borrowed from William Golding's novel about the extinction of a tribe of Neanderthals, The Inheritors takes much inspiration from the sound- and landscapes alike of Holden's native Britain: Elgar, The KLF, field recordings and British folk music form the musical palette in which evocations of Blackpool, Scotland's Rannoch Moor and Cornwall's 'Delabole' are captured. Yet ultimately the universe in which Holden immerses us is very much his own: “I wanted it to be a whole new world, a mythology, complete. As opposed to a product in a cycle: an oldfashioned
idealistic version of what an album is.” The success of this creation lies in no small part in Holden's idiosyncratic methods: seeking to move beyond the “sharp, painfully literal nature of modern digital music”, Holden supplemented his enviable and de rigueur bank of modular synthesizers with his own home-made Max for Live computer programs to create a series of hybrid analogue-digital machines. “Complex, unpredictable beasts whose sole purpose was to be an expressive instrument for me to play a single song,” he explains. “Chaos systems with stable states and unstable states, modulating themselves as I fight to
steer them. Everything is first takes - the timing dictated by what I felt in the moment rather than the grids of a sequencer. It was all a moment. It's recorded like folk music - no overdubs, no virtuosity. A man learnt some instruments to a basic standard and played them. Where needed, he sang”. And as Holden returns to the production frontier after his seven years spent wandering in the desert, The Inheritors is certainly every bit the grand statement of a comeback that it ought to be. But far from forgetting about this prodigal son, Holden's deep influence as a producer, DJ and mentor behind his own Border Community label merely seems to have intensified in the intervening years of album absence. What better moment then to take stock of a music career that now already spans a somewhat surprising 14 years. 1999 now seems like a very long time ago, but then it was that a 19 year old James Holden first burst onto the UK dance music scene with his exuberant teenage trance hit 'Horizons'. Created on a basic home computer set-up using freeware music production software whilst still studying towards a Maths degree at the University of Oxford, the fledgling producer fell into a musical career when the Sony Music hit-making machine provided a welcome major label boost, and an intensive course of remixing, producing, collaborations and (in response to popular demand) DJing thus extended before Holden in place of the conventional Oxford graduate career path. And although he has of course long since removed himself from this trance pigeonhole where his
earliest records landed, it was undoubtedly the same easy, natural and universally resonant way with
melody evidenced in these early works which eventually enabled his graduation from the trance and
progressive house playground where he happened to take his baby steps. For even at such a
young age, conforming to the dictates of a single parochial genre was never his goal: Holden's
musical tastes have always been broader, and his sights set considerably higher, than any
prescriptive scene would permit.
It was with the formation of his own Border Community record label in 2003 that Holden really began
to assert this singular vision. And although still only 23 himself at the time, the role of A&R scout and
tastemaker was one that came naturally to Holden, proving to be the perfect compliment to his
flourishing DJ career as breakthrough records from young artists like Nathan Fake, Extrawelt, The
MFA, Fairmont and Petter found their natural home in his Border Community label alongside his own
productions. As early as release number six the label had bucked the prevailing trend of declining
vinyl sales in a major way as the Holden remix of Nathan Fake's 'The Sky Was Pink' went on to
notch up worldwide sales approaching the big 20,000 mark, earning itself bonafide dancefloor
classic status - and spawning a plague of pale copycat imitations - in the process. Indeed, the hype
explosion which descended upon the Border Community during the mid-2000s seemed to represent
a rare moment of consensus across the dance world, as DJs from seemingly poles apart scenes all
found themselves playing the same Holden-endorsed records.
And with that, what for Holden had initially begun as the obligatory DJ career offshoot would soon
threaten to take over: the DJ requests for Holden and his inimitable genre-bending dancefloor
concoction of Traktor wizardry have continued to come thick, fast and without end ever since. This
constant engagement with the dancefloor and its ever-evolving scenes and sub-cultures has over
the years become an integral part of what Holden does, and it is hard to imagine his career without
the DJ's regular trip to the airport, even if that has inevitably eaten into the producer's available
studio time. It has also left its somewhat unexpected mark in the pagan-tinged bent of Holden's
most recent music productions: “The environment I've spent a lot of time in over the last years -
raves and clubs - is completely pagan: this totally natural human thing that happens on a deeper
level than the conscious / rational. The communal ritual.” And the emergence of the occasional DJ
mix compilation offering (2003's 'Balance 005', 2006's 'At The Controls', and 2010's 'DJ Kicks' for !
K7) may even have gone some way towards appeasing the release gods by filling the artist album
void of Holden's wilderness years.
It was 2006's The Idiots Are Winning that finally answered the call for a full-blown Holden artist
album, even if for Holden himself the mini-sized album remains more of an EP which grew out of
control: “The Idiots Are Winning just came, I'd written some songs that went together. It wasn't
conceived as an album.” But the simple combination of four dancefloor-length Holden tracks, a
smattering of DJ tools and alternative versions and an interlude or two for good measure left the
critics nonetheless convinced: “Holden is operating in a different league”, proclaimed Q, presciently.
Released on Holden's own Border Community label (where else?), 'The Idiots are Winning'
cemented the label's reputation as an artist album force to be reckoned with, building on the
considerable success of Nathan Fake's earlier 'Drowning in a Sea of Love' debut.
And although along the road to maturity we can observe Holden intentionally driving his career in an
increasingly DIY and independent direction, this is not to suggest that his efforts have escaped the
attention of the wider music industry at large. Far from it: off the back of all of this Holden has over
the years found himself on the receiving end of illustrious remix requests from all corners of the
music industry establishment, including pop royalty Britney Spears and Madonna (at her personal
request), stone cold electronic music legends New Order and Depeche Mode, and Holden-loving
stalwarts of the UK indie scene Radiohead and Mogwai, as well as slightly closer-to-home
propositions from like-minded friends and co-conspirators Caribou and Kieran Hebden (in
collaborative mode with late jazz drummer Steve Reid).
More recently however we have seen him take his first tentative steps into the live arena, first of all
at the behest of Caribou's Dan Snaith who gave Holden's previously studio-bound modular
synthesizers a live outing as part of their extended Caribou Vibration Ensemble line-up for a series
of ATP shows at the end of 2011. And eager for another taste of that collective live performance
magic, Holden also seized upon the opportunity to contribute the soundtrack (complete with tranceinducing
live modular collaboration with saxophonist and Inheritors guest performer Etienne Jaumet,
drummer Tom Page of Rocketnumbernine and percussionist Camilo Tirado) to Oxford
mathematician and TV presenter Marcus Du Sautoy's multimedia lecture on 'Consciousness' and
the brain, performed at London's Barbican arts centre and the Latitude festival. And now, as The
Inheritors breaks free of the sacred walls of Holden's studio bunker and makes its own way out into
the world in vinyl, CD and digital form, this Autumn sees Holden rise to the challenge laid down by
none other than Thom Yorke to convert those momentary studio modular synth jams into a stage
performance fit for an Atoms For Peace US support tour, joined once again by Tom Page on drums.
For many musicians happening upon a successful formula at whatever age, the temptation is often
to take the easy money and repeat ad infinitum. But the James Holden career to date has
demonstrated quite the opposite tendency: a streak of success merely provides the necessary
impetus to forge ahead into new uncharted territory. When the dust finally settles after The
Inheritors, and Holden gets another chance to immerse himself in the fantasy world of his beloved
synthesizer collection, who knows where the next chapter of the Holden story will take us.

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

An astonishing seven years has now elapsed since the release of James Holden's milestone debut album The Idiots Are Winning in 2006, rightfully acclaimed in such quarters as The Guardian as “The most astonishing debut in electronic music since Boards of Canada's Music Has The Right To Children”. But June 2013 sees Holden finally return in a big way, with a brand new artist album of suitably epic proportions: 75 minute long English pagan saga The Inheritors. A bold, psychedelic journey, striking a delicate balance between weighty tome and transformative trip, and with a production aesthetic that is all his own: Holden is certain that this is the album that he always wanted to make. Nobody is making electronic music as explorative as this. Whilst the title is borrowed from William Golding's novel about the extinction of a tribe of Neanderthals, The Inheritors takes much inspiration from the sound- and landscapes alike of Holden's native Britain: Elgar, The KLF, field recordings and British folk music form the musical palette in which evocations of Blackpool, Scotland's Rannoch Moor and Cornwall's 'Delabole' are captured. Yet ultimately the universe in which Holden immerses us is very much his own: “I wanted it to be a whole new world, a mythology, complete. As opposed to a product in a cycle: an oldfashioned
idealistic version of what an album is.” The success of this creation lies in no small part in Holden's idiosyncratic methods: seeking to move beyond the “sharp, painfully literal nature of modern digital music”, Holden supplemented his enviable and de rigueur bank of modular synthesizers with his own home-made Max for Live computer programs to create a series of hybrid analogue-digital machines. “Complex, unpredictable beasts whose sole purpose was to be an expressive instrument for me to play a single song,” he explains. “Chaos systems with stable states and unstable states, modulating themselves as I fight to
steer them. Everything is first takes - the timing dictated by what I felt in the moment rather than the grids of a sequencer. It was all a moment. It's recorded like folk music - no overdubs, no virtuosity. A man learnt some instruments to a basic standard and played them. Where needed, he sang”. And as Holden returns to the production frontier after his seven years spent wandering in the desert, The Inheritors is certainly every bit the grand statement of a comeback that it ought to be. But far from forgetting about this prodigal son, Holden's deep influence as a producer, DJ and mentor behind his own Border Community label merely seems to have intensified in the intervening years of album absence. What better moment then to take stock of a music career that now already spans a somewhat surprising 14 years. 1999 now seems like a very long time ago, but then it was that a 19 year old James Holden first burst onto the UK dance music scene with his exuberant teenage trance hit 'Horizons'. Created on a basic home computer set-up using freeware music production software whilst still studying towards a Maths degree at the University of Oxford, the fledgling producer fell into a musical career when the Sony Music hit-making machine provided a welcome major label boost, and an intensive course of remixing, producing, collaborations and (in response to popular demand) DJing thus extended before Holden in place of the conventional Oxford graduate career path. And although he has of course long since removed himself from this trance pigeonhole where his
earliest records landed, it was undoubtedly the same easy, natural and universally resonant way with
melody evidenced in these early works which eventually enabled his graduation from the trance and
progressive house playground where he happened to take his baby steps. For even at such a
young age, conforming to the dictates of a single parochial genre was never his goal: Holden's
musical tastes have always been broader, and his sights set considerably higher, than any
prescriptive scene would permit.
It was with the formation of his own Border Community record label in 2003 that Holden really began
to assert this singular vision. And although still only 23 himself at the time, the role of A&R scout and
tastemaker was one that came naturally to Holden, proving to be the perfect compliment to his
flourishing DJ career as breakthrough records from young artists like Nathan Fake, Extrawelt, The
MFA, Fairmont and Petter found their natural home in his Border Community label alongside his own
productions. As early as release number six the label had bucked the prevailing trend of declining
vinyl sales in a major way as the Holden remix of Nathan Fake's 'The Sky Was Pink' went on to
notch up worldwide sales approaching the big 20,000 mark, earning itself bonafide dancefloor
classic status - and spawning a plague of pale copycat imitations - in the process. Indeed, the hype
explosion which descended upon the Border Community during the mid-2000s seemed to represent
a rare moment of consensus across the dance world, as DJs from seemingly poles apart scenes all
found themselves playing the same Holden-endorsed records.
And with that, what for Holden had initially begun as the obligatory DJ career offshoot would soon
threaten to take over: the DJ requests for Holden and his inimitable genre-bending dancefloor
concoction of Traktor wizardry have continued to come thick, fast and without end ever since. This
constant engagement with the dancefloor and its ever-evolving scenes and sub-cultures has over
the years become an integral part of what Holden does, and it is hard to imagine his career without
the DJ's regular trip to the airport, even if that has inevitably eaten into the producer's available
studio time. It has also left its somewhat unexpected mark in the pagan-tinged bent of Holden's
most recent music productions: “The environment I've spent a lot of time in over the last years -
raves and clubs - is completely pagan: this totally natural human thing that happens on a deeper
level than the conscious / rational. The communal ritual.” And the emergence of the occasional DJ
mix compilation offering (2003's 'Balance 005', 2006's 'At The Controls', and 2010's 'DJ Kicks' for !
K7) may even have gone some way towards appeasing the release gods by filling the artist album
void of Holden's wilderness years.
It was 2006's The Idiots Are Winning that finally answered the call for a full-blown Holden artist
album, even if for Holden himself the mini-sized album remains more of an EP which grew out of
control: “The Idiots Are Winning just came, I'd written some songs that went together. It wasn't
conceived as an album.” But the simple combination of four dancefloor-length Holden tracks, a
smattering of DJ tools and alternative versions and an interlude or two for good measure left the
critics nonetheless convinced: “Holden is operating in a different league”, proclaimed Q, presciently.
Released on Holden's own Border Community label (where else?), 'The Idiots are Winning'
cemented the label's reputation as an artist album force to be reckoned with, building on the
considerable success of Nathan Fake's earlier 'Drowning in a Sea of Love' debut.
And although along the road to maturity we can observe Holden intentionally driving his career in an
increasingly DIY and independent direction, this is not to suggest that his efforts have escaped the
attention of the wider music industry at large. Far from it: off the back of all of this Holden has over
the years found himself on the receiving end of illustrious remix requests from all corners of the
music industry establishment, including pop royalty Britney Spears and Madonna (at her personal
request), stone cold electronic music legends New Order and Depeche Mode, and Holden-loving
stalwarts of the UK indie scene Radiohead and Mogwai, as well as slightly closer-to-home
propositions from like-minded friends and co-conspirators Caribou and Kieran Hebden (in
collaborative mode with late jazz drummer Steve Reid).
More recently however we have seen him take his first tentative steps into the live arena, first of all
at the behest of Caribou's Dan Snaith who gave Holden's previously studio-bound modular
synthesizers a live outing as part of their extended Caribou Vibration Ensemble line-up for a series
of ATP shows at the end of 2011. And eager for another taste of that collective live performance
magic, Holden also seized upon the opportunity to contribute the soundtrack (complete with tranceinducing
live modular collaboration with saxophonist and Inheritors guest performer Etienne Jaumet,
drummer Tom Page of Rocketnumbernine and percussionist Camilo Tirado) to Oxford
mathematician and TV presenter Marcus Du Sautoy's multimedia lecture on 'Consciousness' and
the brain, performed at London's Barbican arts centre and the Latitude festival. And now, as The
Inheritors breaks free of the sacred walls of Holden's studio bunker and makes its own way out into
the world in vinyl, CD and digital form, this Autumn sees Holden rise to the challenge laid down by
none other than Thom Yorke to convert those momentary studio modular synth jams into a stage
performance fit for an Atoms For Peace US support tour, joined once again by Tom Page on drums.
For many musicians happening upon a successful formula at whatever age, the temptation is often
to take the easy money and repeat ad infinitum. But the James Holden career to date has
demonstrated quite the opposite tendency: a streak of success merely provides the necessary
impetus to forge ahead into new uncharted territory. When the dust finally settles after The
Inheritors, and Holden gets another chance to immerse himself in the fantasy world of his beloved
synthesizer collection, who knows where the next chapter of the Holden story will take us.

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

An astonishing seven years has now elapsed since the release of James Holden's milestone debut album The Idiots Are Winning in 2006, rightfully acclaimed in such quarters as The Guardian as “The most astonishing debut in electronic music since Boards of Canada's Music Has The Right To Children”. But June 2013 sees Holden finally return in a big way, with a brand new artist album of suitably epic proportions: 75 minute long English pagan saga The Inheritors. A bold, psychedelic journey, striking a delicate balance between weighty tome and transformative trip, and with a production aesthetic that is all his own: Holden is certain that this is the album that he always wanted to make. Nobody is making electronic music as explorative as this. Whilst the title is borrowed from William Golding's novel about the extinction of a tribe of Neanderthals, The Inheritors takes much inspiration from the sound- and landscapes alike of Holden's native Britain: Elgar, The KLF, field recordings and British folk music form the musical palette in which evocations of Blackpool, Scotland's Rannoch Moor and Cornwall's 'Delabole' are captured. Yet ultimately the universe in which Holden immerses us is very much his own: “I wanted it to be a whole new world, a mythology, complete. As opposed to a product in a cycle: an oldfashioned
idealistic version of what an album is.” The success of this creation lies in no small part in Holden's idiosyncratic methods: seeking to move beyond the “sharp, painfully literal nature of modern digital music”, Holden supplemented his enviable and de rigueur bank of modular synthesizers with his own home-made Max for Live computer programs to create a series of hybrid analogue-digital machines. “Complex, unpredictable beasts whose sole purpose was to be an expressive instrument for me to play a single song,” he explains. “Chaos systems with stable states and unstable states, modulating themselves as I fight to
steer them. Everything is first takes - the timing dictated by what I felt in the moment rather than the grids of a sequencer. It was all a moment. It's recorded like folk music - no overdubs, no virtuosity. A man learnt some instruments to a basic standard and played them. Where needed, he sang”. And as Holden returns to the production frontier after his seven years spent wandering in the desert, The Inheritors is certainly every bit the grand statement of a comeback that it ought to be. But far from forgetting about this prodigal son, Holden's deep influence as a producer, DJ and mentor behind his own Border Community label merely seems to have intensified in the intervening years of album absence. What better moment then to take stock of a music career that now already spans a somewhat surprising 14 years. 1999 now seems like a very long time ago, but then it was that a 19 year old James Holden first burst onto the UK dance music scene with his exuberant teenage trance hit 'Horizons'. Created on a basic home computer set-up using freeware music production software whilst still studying towards a Maths degree at the University of Oxford, the fledgling producer fell into a musical career when the Sony Music hit-making machine provided a welcome major label boost, and an intensive course of remixing, producing, collaborations and (in response to popular demand) DJing thus extended before Holden in place of the conventional Oxford graduate career path. And although he has of course long since removed himself from this trance pigeonhole where his
earliest records landed, it was undoubtedly the same easy, natural and universally resonant way with
melody evidenced in these early works which eventually enabled his graduation from the trance and
progressive house playground where he happened to take his baby steps. For even at such a
young age, conforming to the dictates of a single parochial genre was never his goal: Holden's
musical tastes have always been broader, and his sights set considerably higher, than any
prescriptive scene would permit.
It was with the formation of his own Border Community record label in 2003 that Holden really began
to assert this singular vision. And although still only 23 himself at the time, the role of A&R scout and
tastemaker was one that came naturally to Holden, proving to be the perfect compliment to his
flourishing DJ career as breakthrough records from young artists like Nathan Fake, Extrawelt, The
MFA, Fairmont and Petter found their natural home in his Border Community label alongside his own
productions. As early as release number six the label had bucked the prevailing trend of declining
vinyl sales in a major way as the Holden remix of Nathan Fake's 'The Sky Was Pink' went on to
notch up worldwide sales approaching the big 20,000 mark, earning itself bonafide dancefloor
classic status - and spawning a plague of pale copycat imitations - in the process. Indeed, the hype
explosion which descended upon the Border Community during the mid-2000s seemed to represent
a rare moment of consensus across the dance world, as DJs from seemingly poles apart scenes all
found themselves playing the same Holden-endorsed records.
And with that, what for Holden had initially begun as the obligatory DJ career offshoot would soon
threaten to take over: the DJ requests for Holden and his inimitable genre-bending dancefloor
concoction of Traktor wizardry have continued to come thick, fast and without end ever since. This
constant engagement with the dancefloor and its ever-evolving scenes and sub-cultures has over
the years become an integral part of what Holden does, and it is hard to imagine his career without
the DJ's regular trip to the airport, even if that has inevitably eaten into the producer's available
studio time. It has also left its somewhat unexpected mark in the pagan-tinged bent of Holden's
most recent music productions: “The environment I've spent a lot of time in over the last years -
raves and clubs - is completely pagan: this totally natural human thing that happens on a deeper
level than the conscious / rational. The communal ritual.” And the emergence of the occasional DJ
mix compilation offering (2003's 'Balance 005', 2006's 'At The Controls', and 2010's 'DJ Kicks' for !
K7) may even have gone some way towards appeasing the release gods by filling the artist album
void of Holden's wilderness years.
It was 2006's The Idiots Are Winning that finally answered the call for a full-blown Holden artist
album, even if for Holden himself the mini-sized album remains more of an EP which grew out of
control: “The Idiots Are Winning just came, I'd written some songs that went together. It wasn't
conceived as an album.” But the simple combination of four dancefloor-length Holden tracks, a
smattering of DJ tools and alternative versions and an interlude or two for good measure left the
critics nonetheless convinced: “Holden is operating in a different league”, proclaimed Q, presciently.
Released on Holden's own Border Community label (where else?), 'The Idiots are Winning'
cemented the label's reputation as an artist album force to be reckoned with, building on the
considerable success of Nathan Fake's earlier 'Drowning in a Sea of Love' debut.
And although along the road to maturity we can observe Holden intentionally driving his career in an
increasingly DIY and independent direction, this is not to suggest that his efforts have escaped the
attention of the wider music industry at large. Far from it: off the back of all of this Holden has over
the years found himself on the receiving end of illustrious remix requests from all corners of the
music industry establishment, including pop royalty Britney Spears and Madonna (at her personal
request), stone cold electronic music legends New Order and Depeche Mode, and Holden-loving
stalwarts of the UK indie scene Radiohead and Mogwai, as well as slightly closer-to-home
propositions from like-minded friends and co-conspirators Caribou and Kieran Hebden (in
collaborative mode with late jazz drummer Steve Reid).
More recently however we have seen him take his first tentative steps into the live arena, first of all
at the behest of Caribou's Dan Snaith who gave Holden's previously studio-bound modular
synthesizers a live outing as part of their extended Caribou Vibration Ensemble line-up for a series
of ATP shows at the end of 2011. And eager for another taste of that collective live performance
magic, Holden also seized upon the opportunity to contribute the soundtrack (complete with tranceinducing
live modular collaboration with saxophonist and Inheritors guest performer Etienne Jaumet,
drummer Tom Page of Rocketnumbernine and percussionist Camilo Tirado) to Oxford
mathematician and TV presenter Marcus Du Sautoy's multimedia lecture on 'Consciousness' and
the brain, performed at London's Barbican arts centre and the Latitude festival. And now, as The
Inheritors breaks free of the sacred walls of Holden's studio bunker and makes its own way out into
the world in vinyl, CD and digital form, this Autumn sees Holden rise to the challenge laid down by
none other than Thom Yorke to convert those momentary studio modular synth jams into a stage
performance fit for an Atoms For Peace US support tour, joined once again by Tom Page on drums.
For many musicians happening upon a successful formula at whatever age, the temptation is often
to take the easy money and repeat ad infinitum. But the James Holden career to date has
demonstrated quite the opposite tendency: a streak of success merely provides the necessary
impetus to forge ahead into new uncharted territory. When the dust finally settles after The
Inheritors, and Holden gets another chance to immerse himself in the fantasy world of his beloved
synthesizer collection, who knows where the next chapter of the Holden story will take us.

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

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