Tom Holkenborg here! I'm a Grammy-nominated "full-contact" composer and multi-platinum electronic music producer under my previous name Junkie XL. I've scored some films you may know like Mad Max: Fury Road, Deadpool, Alita: Battle Angel, Black Mass, Terminator: Dark Fate and many others. Today marks the release of White Lines, a new Netflix original series, unravelling the story of a superstar DJ who went missing in Ibiza 20 years ago. This is the first TV show I've worked on and I had a lot of fun doing it. Also out today is the new Scooby Doo film "Scoob!", which I also composed the music for. Happy to answer any questions! Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy wherever you are.


Comments: 168 • Responses: 33  • Date: 

PaulEDangerously21 karma

Why are you not keeping the Junkie XL name?

How often do you get together with Hans and are you guys close friends?

Also when watching a movie for fun are you constantly critiquing the music in movies you watch with what you would have done differently?

What was it like working with Gary Clark Jr.? Why was he picked for "Come Together"? Were you a fan of his before working with him? I've gone to so many of his concerts before he teamed up with you and when I found out he was working with you I thought it was so random and awesome! Have you talked with him since or gone to his concerts? Any plans to work with him again in the future? He seems like a chill guy to work with.

Lastly, are you composing Zack Snyder's Army of the Dead?

tomholkenborg29 karma

I am not using Junkie XL for film releases anymore;

Hans and I talk regularly! Last week the last time..We always exchange insights in the business or talk synthesizers or sounds!!

Gary is such a cool person; very down to earth yet so musical and an incredible performer!!

Yes I am scoring Army

angler1234510 karma

Did you have any influences from older film score composers? And how did you get started in that business? Thanks.

tomholkenborg11 karma

I do! Primarely classic composers though. Strawinski, Scriabin, Ravel but also older film composers like Steiner and Bernard Hermann

KnownDiscount9 karma


tomholkenborg16 karma

It was incredible to work with George Miller! He is so visionary! That also means he will push me to pull out the max of what was possible for the music in the film! It was a scary experience at first for me because he had worked with classic icon composers like John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith

scolomon9 karma

Hi Tom! I saw you a few times at the Guvernment in Toronto 2003-2004. Do you happen to keep setlists from old shows? You were epic and I am still trying to figure out what some of those tunes were

tomholkenborg12 karma

That is so awesome!! Thank you!

In those days I played a lot of reworked tracks that I did that never got released because of copyright issues... Also I would rework my own tracks just for live purposes. On top of that; the gigs were live gigs in which I was able to manipulate the sequences so they never were quite the same! I hope that answers it...

Youvepeaked5 karma

Loved what you brought to Black Mass.

How did you get your start in the film business?

Thanks for your time

tomholkenborg10 karma

thank you!!

Actually quite slowly. While I will still an touring artist I worked here and there on something. When I moved to LA in 2003 I slwoly started getting more involved. From 2010 it was fulltime and in 2014 I did my first Hollywood film 300; Rise of an Empire

dplex__hd4 karma

Hi Tom, I hope all is well.

Regarding Sonic. Did you take any inspiration from the soundtracks over the years? did you place little easter eggs in some of the tracks, and will you do the same if you compose for the hypothetical sequel? (I hope we can get either the tracks "It Doesn't Matter" or "His World" next time, haha)

tomholkenborg8 karma

The director wanted that score steered away from the game language and themes. So it all became a complete different idea. I was heavily inspired by the old Tom and Jerry scores ( 50's) for the faster action pacing... The theme for sonic itself is more poppy in nature, almost like a song....

Saiprasad0053 karma

If you would had the chance to score for one film which has already been released, Which would it be ?

tomholkenborg7 karma

At this point I would say Das Boot

relvssci3 karma

Is there a way musicians who know theory but cannot read sheet music can study classical music and learn to apply it to film scoring?

tomholkenborg11 karma

Actually for study purposes its not so hard to study and read sheetmusic. It becomes completely different when you have to read and play or conduct. In that case speed is of the essence. But not for study. Order some of these Dover scores online of great classical works and see how the real masters did their voicings, how they arranged woodwinds. The roll of brass with woodwinds. And also how to present thematic material and how to develop it throught a piece.

JRL19813 karma

Hello Tom! Hope you're having a great day. Your new soundtrack for White Lines is just as great as always!

The video you posted on YouTube on April 22 made me both worried and a little confused. You said that "All the computer setups are gone", what happened...?

tomholkenborg4 karma

Thank you!! HAHA, The computers are not gone as in sold or went up in thin air! Me and my team all now work from home! That's why I mentioned that!

Chtorrr2 karma

What is the very best cheese?

tomholkenborg4 karma

Well, the dutch make one of the best cheeses in the world BUT what the best Dutch cheese is highly debated in the Netherlands! My 2 cents? Beemster Old age cheese!!

glou292 karma

Hey Tom! Love your work! Super inspirational bring up too. Question(s): Do you find yourself changing your writing creative process often as new resources, devices, et cetera become available? What is that like for you, and do how do you embrace the creative process in part of your normal writing or scoring routine? Thanks in advance!

tomholkenborg5 karma

Such great question!! With every new development in music instruments or software new music styles will arrise!

Therefore also inspiration and creativity!

zackerynicolosi2 karma

How different is the approach for writing something like White Lines opposed to Fury Road?

tomholkenborg3 karma

Very different! And yet the same!

Big difference is volume! FR is 2 hours... WL is 10 hours.

Way more music needed for WL and also the arc how to build your music is way longer because of that!

Both projects went through extensive LAB work to create a sound and or a feeling to get the tone of the show/movie right

DerBaumHD2 karma

What do you consider your "Magnum Opus"?

tomholkenborg2 karma

to be really honest!! I usually don't like things from the past that much. I susually see the composers ( me) missed opportunities.

I take that always in and take it to the next film!

I always had the same in my artist career!

Vaffeldyret2 karma

Hi Tom. Thank you for doing this. I heard you talking about the importance of education in music theory, orchestration etc. in one of your videos on YouTube. What’s the most important skills to learn besides four part writing, counterpoint and orchestration if you want to become a Composer?

And thank you, for all the material and experience you are sharing on YouTube and other social media, for us to learn about the business and become better composers and musicians. I really appreciate it!


tomholkenborg4 karma

Hey everyone, This is my last question here... Thank you all!

Technical aspects of composition are important but mostly diversity is and lets not forget all the human skills needed when you work on a film. It is team sport where many people have a part to play so its important you are a very good team player!

bluehat92 karma

How do you come up with your ideas? Do you often know what you’re going for or is it more a process of experimentation, discovery, and stumbling onto an idea you like?

tomholkenborg5 karma

I usually write the score in my head. Process of elimination is very important in that. Once I hear it clearly in my head I start working on it on my computer or one of my instruments.

But many of my scores are sound scores. In that case I still hear a sound I am going after but obviously experimentation will give you new idea's.

That also goes for melody and harmony... While you are excecuting what you hear in your head you get new idea's.

But you will always get feedback from Director and or studio and producers and will have an another important impact on how then the writing process continues...

musicmovesme992 karma

Hey Tom! Thanks for doing this. I've been listening to the Mad Max: Fury Road score quite a bit in lockdown. Wondering if you have recommendations for scores (written by you or others) that are well suited for at-home listening, outside the context of the film? Thomas Newman's American Beauty score stands out for me

tomholkenborg4 karma

Thank you so much! By the way; It is exactly 5 years ago that the movie came out!!

Anything Johan Johansson did is great to listen to!

hishamdahud2 karma

Today's the 5 year anniversary of Mad Max: Fury Road!! Is there a single life lesson you pulled from working on that film?

tomholkenborg7 karma

At the end of the day ask yourself; Is this the best I can do;

Answer is always NO

vipercicada2 karma

Why do you make the youtube tutorials?

tomholkenborg6 karma

It is really giving back to the community that has given me so many opportunities in my life.

I also grew up in education because my mum was a music teacher... from 2004 I also ran a 4 year university study at ARTEZ in Holland called Music and Media

klr262 karma

Hey Tom, congrats on White Lines & Scooby! Wanted to know coming from the world of electronic music, are you still a fan of house/techno? Any all-time favorite artists/albums?

tomholkenborg4 karma

I LOVE TECHNO now adays!! I watch so many of these incredible dj sets that really give me goosbumps!!

Sunny_With_A_Chance2 karma

Hey there Tom!

Who are some of your favorite Hollywood composers? And who are some of your favorite non-Hollywood composers?

tomholkenborg3 karma

Max Steiner Bernard Hermann Johan Johansson John Williams Hans Zimmer Harry gregson willliams

all above are topnotch composers

Classical_Bricks2 karma

Thanks for doing this! I'm an aspiring film composer.
How do you see the industry changing for film composers due to COVID? And how is starting as a film composer different now from, say, 10 or 20 years ago?

tomholkenborg6 karma

Covid will change the dynamic in short term. Long term is that a huge amount of content is needed for all streaming platforms and also the theatres and of course all kinds of new experiences like VR; 4d theatres; park rides and such

It should be good for a lot of people because more music is needed than EVER before!!

Composerik2 karma

How did you approach the score for Scoob?

tomholkenborg2 karma

Scoob was really great because Tony Cervone is such an open minded intelligent director! He wanted something fresh and modern without loosing the classic feel of scoob. It became an incredible mix between all kinds of different Urban beats with Flower Power sounds, Industrial sounds, Surf Guitars and super fast Tom and Jerry orchestral music!

PopcornMuscles2 karma

Hey Tom, a specific question, but how long do you take to write your suites for films at the beginning of a film project? Weeks? Months? I know it all depends but it's rarely discussed that this is how a lot of film music is written now.

tomholkenborg6 karma

sometimes 18 months!! ( fury Road) sometimes 9 months ( Terminator) sometimes 4 months ( Tomb Raider) sometimes 4 weeks ( Black Mass)

greg28892 karma

What advice would you have for young composers trying to break into Hollywood? Curious if you think it's necessary to get a formal music degree or is it possible to make it self-taught

tomholkenborg3 karma

Knowing music really well over 200 years is important. Not if you can reed sheet music or know theory. Though it IS very handy.

Being an assistant to working composer is the best way!

ameyasaraf2 karma

Hey Tom! Really love your work and all of your tutorials on YouTube as well. Thank you so much for giving back to the community. I have two questions:

  1. With the current circumstances we are facing. How do you think this is gonna affect jobs in our industry? What should new graduates from university focus on?

  2. How did you get to where you are today? What steps can young composers follow? What should we focus most on? Is it necessary to assist someone?

Thank you again. I really love your work and you have inspired me to become a better composer and a human being. I hope you have a great day ahead!!

tomholkenborg5 karma

1; short term it is tough for everyone. Long term; the future looks very bright. SO much music needed in the future!!

2; Intern or work with working composer is the best advice I can give

wtfisrobin2 karma

lots of us are going to be competing in Spitfire's Westworld scoring contest. any tips for scoring chase/action scenes with lots of sync points?

tomholkenborg6 karma

Listen to some of our classic masters in Classical Music! Or listen to Old Tom and Jerry scores!

Business_Guava2 karma

Hey Tom! How are you? Wondering what was your favorite score from this year's award season?

tomholkenborg3 karma

  1. I thought an incredible job by Thomas Newman

metaterran2 karma

What are some tools you recommend, like Spitfire, GarageBand? Any outlets you prefer for any reason?

tomholkenborg4 karma

If you want to get into scoring get or Logic Pro or Cubase ( my preference). Then you can look into the sample library companies that deliver everything an aspiring composer needs. Spitfire and Orchestral tools are the biggest and more serious!

Ar1xo2 karma

Hi Tom. I just want to start learning composing for films and games, I only know some basic stuff. In which order should I learn these stuff? -Music theory -Reading music -Playing piano -Fundamentals of other instruments (Strings, Woodwinds, etc) If there is anything else which is a must or could help? What is your advise for people who are new in composing? Thank you.

tomholkenborg3 karma

Being versatile is always very important now adays! And the orchestral side but also modern music styles like hiphop; electronic music and others.

Mostly be genuine! Be yourself, develop your own signature sound and style

mirko2341 karma

Hello Tom,

How do you layer vst with hardware synths ? What is hardware strong points, and what vst? Can you explain a bit with maybe short example from your work? Thanks

tomholkenborg3 karma

I would highly recommend to watch one of my studiotime episodes from season 2 called one bassline different synths.

In here I compare VST with their original hardware synths

Anni_music1 karma

hey, thank you so much for doing this :)

Have you started your career in the nethetlands? What was your very first film then and where did you got that ,,job"? Did you liked your first steps actually 😃😄🎶

I love your work and you are a huge inspirstion for me. Actually I am a teacher, but I spend my freetime in writing music :)

Many regards from Germany!

tomholkenborg3 karma

I got asked a lot in the beginning to work on films because of my artist career.

People wanted some of "that" sound or magic into their films...

Slowly from there I started developing my career!

OberheimGameGenie1 karma

  • Favorite 5U VCO?
  • Favorite 5U VCF?
  • Favorite Control Voltage source?
  • What is one synth you've used recently that surprised you with a strange/hidden feature or benefitted from misuse?

tomholkenborg3 karma

You know!! Modular synths are the most interesting toys out there!

And I can't help but saying that some time one module is your new best friend and 3 months later another module is your best friend!!

Right now on all your questions; Moon from Germany; Gert is his name. Incredible person and synth designer and builder! Check him out!

214MinutesLong1 karma

Will we ever get another Kitchen Time?

tomholkenborg2 karma