Junkie XL Makes an Oscar Party Soundtrack… Out of Soundtracks

The man behind the scores of films like "Mad Max: Fury Road' and "Deadpool" shares some of his favorite songs from soundtracks.

Tom Holkenborg. a.k.a. “Junkie XL” has remixed pop stars from Elvis Presley to Justin Timberlake, and composed soundtracks for blockbuster films like “Deadpool.”

But most relevant to our first-annual NOTscars show, the Dutch musician scored “Mad Max: Fury Road”… which somehow did not get an Oscar nomination for Best Score. Even though that movie features the most talked about cinematic music of the year: the heavy metal riffs played by a guy in red PJ’s, standing atop a speeding semi, wielding a flame-throwing guitar. To wit:

Alas, there’s no Oscar category for extreme metal riffage. But as a consolation prize, we invited Junkie XL to compile, for us, a dinner party soundtrack… made of soundtracks. (Inception!)


Junkie XL: Hi, this is Tom. More people know me as Junkie XL. I’m going to play you a soundtrack for this unique dinner party, that is made up of tracks from well-known movie scores… or not-so-well-known movie scores. And they’re somewhat on the darker side, but at least it’s going to lead to some good conversation, and we’re going to end with a fun track.

Ryuichi Sakamoto – “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (Theme Original)”

Number one is going to be the main theme from “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence,” starring David Bowie, music by Ryuichi Sakamoto.

What really appeals to me about this track is that it’s very melancholic, and it’s also very rooted in Japanese music culture. At the same time, it’s very ’80s, too.

Ryuichi Sakamoto was part of a band, The Yellow Magic Orchestra. They were using a lot of synthesizers and samplers that were very unique for that time period in the ’80s, and it’s just a really wonderful track. Very mesmerizing.

Peter Gabriel – “At Night”

So, my number two for tonight is a track from the score, “Birdy.” Also a movie that came out in the ’80s. The music was done by Peter Gabriel, and the track is called “At Night.”

It’s a movie about two guys. One guy is fascinated by birds, and he goes to fight in Vietnam and loses his mind and… [chuckles] what a dinner party this is! Well, again, I love to play music to people that sparks a conversation. And like myself, when I work, I love to get in a zone that is not my comfort zone. More interesting music starts to emerge, or more interesting subjects to talk about.

This music is so incredibly put together, using all these different musicians from Africa. The effect that it has on me, it’s almost like a state of trance. You really feel that you’re sucked into a world that is not your own.

Kool and the Gang – “Open Sesame”

Number three, we’re going to brighten things up. It’s a track from a movie that had a massive impact on me, which was “Saturday Night Fever.” And I know it has all these really famous hits on there, but they’re not the songs I picked. I picked a song, “Open Sesame,” a dark funk track by Kool and the Gang.

When people ask me, “What was the first time you realized how powerful music in a movie was?” I always say “Saturday Night Fever,” and people laugh.

It’s a track that I danced to when I was a teenager. Oh, the disco scene in the countryside in Holland is nothing like you’ve ever seen before! [Laughs.] I lived in this really small, really small city. There were all these small villages around, and then in the middle of all that is a massive warehouse that was turned into a disco. Kids from all these villages would go there. On a good Saturday night, there would be 2,000 kids in there.

This particular track always stayed with me. Great use of instruments and voices, and it puts a grin on my face.

Elvis – “A Little Less Conversation” (JXL Radio Edit Remix)

If I would pick a track of my own for a dinner party, with absolute, guaranteed success, it would be the remix that I did in 2002 of Elvis, “A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action.”

I came up with this remix for a commercial in 2002, and it featured all the famous soccer stars in there. The commercial came out and before I knew it, it was number one in 28-something countries.

I’m afraid in 25 years, when I come to a wedding party somewhere in the countryside in Holland, people will still play that track [Laughs]. Something to look forward to!