NEW YORK -- Things are much more expensive in America than they
are in Holland, says Dutch electronica whiz and Junkie XL founder Tom
Holkenborg, with the exception of records and clothes.
At the Roadrunner Records offices in New York City, Holkenborg points to the
new, red Windbreaker that he's wearing and says proudly, "I got this for $99. In
Holland, it would cost $250."
That alone could be reason enough for him to pack his belongings and head to
the Big Apple. But talented techno songwriter Holkenborg, who says he is
considering relocating to record some new music, clearly has others.
Having already spread the word throughout Europe about Junkie XL's debut,
Saturday Teenage Kick, with tens of thousands of copies sold there, he's
on a mission to sell his sound in the States, or at least make his band's
presence known to some degree.
It's the day before Junkie XL depart on a short showcase-tour of America, but
Holkenborg and Junkie XL rapper Rude Boy (a.k.a. Patrick Remington) are
intent on scoring the hip-hop and breakbeat records that cost about $25 in their
American record stores are new to first-time visitor Holkenborg, but
Rude Boy's been to the United States before with his other full-time concern, the
rap 'n' roll outfit Urban Dance Squad. He says U.D.S. plan on releasing an
album later this year. "It's gonna be real bass-heavy, but not like those
Chemical (Brothers) beats."
The pair drop $209 at one store, on an assortment of breakbeat compilations, a
Coldcut record, a Scott La Rock memorial album of early Boogie Down
Productions ephemera and a black nylon bag to hold all the stuff.
along Sixth Avenue to the next record store gives 30-year-old Holkenborg a
chance to reflect on the European success of Saturday Teenage Kick
and its attendant stateside hype.
"For me, it's so new," he says, "because I've been making music for years, and
it's so great, because I've never come with my music outside of Holland. Before,
I sold 2,000 copies. Now it's 80,000."
Holkenborg says he's already making Junkie XL's next record, in much the
same way that he made the first, a fierce, fun melange of hip-hop, heavy metal
and techno. "I wrote 40 songs for the first album, and out of those 40 songs, I
selected the best 16, and 12 were good enough for the album," he says. "Now,
I've started on the next 40."
Looking above and around him in the New York night, Holkenborg remarks that
a change of scenery might help him record Junkie XL's sophomore effort. "I'm
thinking about coming to New York for just a couple of months," he says,
"getting an apartment, bringing over my recording equipment."
He'd love to soak up the vibes and sounds of the Big Apple -- musical and
otherwise -- because the change might give him a fresh outlook on his music,
For now, Holkenborg and his bandmates -- DJ Frankie D, guitarist Renee Van
Darzee and drummer Baz Mattie -- are satisfied to be soaking in a sampling of
America during their cross-country mini-tour.
In addition to select stops in major
cities, they played a special one-night gig during the popular South By
Southwest showcase in Austin, Texas, where they packed the house and drew
a crowd of onlookers huddled around the club's front windows.
Meanwhile, in Europe, Holkenborg's newfound renown is confirmed by his
having been asked to remix some music for soccer's European Championships,
one of the continent's biggest sporting events.
As further proof of his rising star,
former Sepultura guitarist and Junkie XL fan Max Cavalera is also offering his
services with the next Junkie XL album, Holkenborg adds.
These are profound changes for a guy who's used to selling a couple thousand
copies of a record at a time and who says he made Saturday Teenage
Kick mostly "in a bedroom studio."
It's no wonder that he's interested in expanding his horizons to record in a
major metropolis such as New York, with all of its sites and sounds and discount
record stores, for that matter.
Pawing through a stack of rap LPs at Fat Beats -- a New York hip-hop vinyl
emporium with, coincidentally, another store in Amsterdam -- Holkenborg
complains about how his newfound attention has made it harder to focus on his
work at home.
"But here," he says, "we are anonymous."
Still, that might not be for long. The Junkie XL debut album hit stores in the U.S.