Born on February 14, 1969, in Belfast, Ireland; one of ten siblings. Addresses: Record company--1500/A&M Records, 9151 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069; Management--Robert Linney Management, 1 Cowcross Street, London, England EC1M 6DR.
As a recognized master of modulation, disc-jockey-turned-recording-artist David Holmes came to represent all things "techno," by virtue of critical reviews in the late 1990s. He embraced the inventive synthetic music form, injecting his own unique spin on the genre to create a musical style universally described by aficionados as an intriguing combination of Latin techno, blues, background jazz, funk, freaky, Celtic, and electronica. Holmes has repeatedly displayed a natural bent for provoking uniquely wry and sardonic imagery. By further augmenting his sound mixtures with evocative titles such as This Film's Crap, Let's Slash the Seats, Bow Down to the Exit Sign, and Let's Get Killed, he has contrived an intriguing aura that has tantalized a wide spectrum of listeners. With a series of movie soundtracks and screenplay scores to his credit by 2000, film producers aggressively solicited Holmes' talent, and on occasion, developed films to provide visual substance to the creative imagery evoked by Holmes' audio works.
Holmes, the youngest of ten siblings, was born on February 14, 1969, in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He was born into an era of emerging electronic musical forms which were prefaced by 1950s funk and later by the disco sounds of the 1970s. It was a youthful fascination with punk rock, combined with a passion for Latin techno beats, that led Holmes to select a career as a disc jockey and record mixer at the age of 15. Young Holmes took up the trade, spinning platters at local scenes around Belfast where he played medleys that ranged from soul and jazz, to rock, disco, and mod music.
Intrigued by his own self-induced and romanticized image of New York City's ethnic ghettos, Holmes made a trip to the United States in 1986. In America, Holmes--whose musical instrument of choice was a digital audiotape machine (DAT)--amused himself by mingling with the street denizens, tenement residents, and others who happened by the dingy avenues and alleyways of the urban slums. He made rounds throughout the South Bronx, Central Park, Washington Square, and elsewhere, connecting and conversing with whomever would oblige. While talking, he was taping. He saved the tapes, remixed them, and used them years later, incorporating the mixes to create the substance of a full-length album in the late 1990s. Artistic inspiration notwithstanding, Holmes abandoned his United States junket earlier than he intended and returned to Belfast to escape what he called the intensity and the associated drug culture of the crowded borough streets. Additionally, according to Holmes, a streetwise astrologer labeled him "bad news" based on the year of his birth--the year of the rooster--in Chinese astrology.
At home in Belfast, the astrologer's enigmatic prophesy never materialized. Instead, the young disc jockey deftly honed both his appreciation and his understanding of electronic music by working mainly in dance clubs. Holmes developed his talent for mixing tracks and superimposing sounds, and early in his career a budding entrepreneurial instinct surfaced as well. He promoted concerts and wrote a fanzine publication. He nurtured his industry contacts through communications networks with other disc jockeys and studios, especially in England, and he acquired an interest in a dance music record label called Sugarsweet. He used the same Sugarsweet name for a traveling dance music program and also for a dance club in which he maintained an interest along with two other partners.
By virtue of his unflagging interest in sound production, Holmes undertook a variety of projects and under the shroud of numerous aliases, established a reputation as a recording artist as well. Among his earliest successes was DeNiro from Positiva Records in 1993. The recording, which sold 30,000 copies, featured Holmes along with fellow disc jockey Ashley Beedle. The duo, billed as the Disco Evangelists, also recorded A New Dawn. In part because of the success of the Disco Evangelists venture, Holmes emerged more prominently from behind the scenes in 1993-94. His popularity as a remixer led to further involvement in techno projects for St. Etienne, Sandals, and Justin Warfield, and he contributed his technical expertise behind the scenes to Discothequeby U2. Holmes continued to pursue avenues as a recording artist also, working with electronica pioneers Andy Ellison and Pete Latham of Dub Federation. Together the three marvels of musical mixology collaborated under the name of Scubadevils, and when Novamute Records released a remix of the techno classic, Trance Europe Express,the reissued album--which originally featured Ellison and Latham--included a solo as well by Holmes called "Ministry." For that track, Holmes billed himself as Death Before Disco. Another Holmes selection, "Coming Home to the Sun" with Cara Robinson, was included on the Atomic Audio compilation from Quango in 1996.
Holmes' first solo release was a single called "Johnny Favourite" from Warp Records, and as the Holmes style evolved, his solo recording credits multiplied and included "Latin Prayer" and "Hawaiian Death Stomp." On those tracks, he billed himself as Well Charged Latinos and 4 Boy 1 Girl Action, respectively. Holmes' debut album, This Film's Crap, Let's Slash the Seats, was released on Go! Discs, an achievement that created a stir in the techno world in 1995.
A follow-up Holmes album, Let's Get Killed,was released in 1997 on 1500/A&M Records. On this album, Holmes inventively juxtaposed Latin rhythms of the 1960s with state-of-the-art music technology of the 1990s for a new electronica experience grounded in spicy Latin flavors. Let's Get Killedwas his first American release and was developed essentially from the compilation of tapes that he recorded during his trip to New York City in the 1980s. The album's "Don't Die Just Yet," according to Holmes, was inspired when he stumbled upon freshly painted graffiti proclaiming the song's provocative plea. Let's Get Killed received an enthusiastic response from critics and immediately established Holmes as a cutting-edge talent among techno/electronica musicians. Entertainment Weekly rated Let's Get Killed an A-minus and dubbed it a "stirring symphony of sleaze." Kristopher Kleeb for SonicNet online welcomed the work as addictive, snazzy, funky, and groovy. Kleeb cited the track entitled "Caddell Returns" for creating an eerie and psychedelic netherworld. Holmes' well-meshed combination of keyboard, drums, and strains of the blues--a rendition in strings--set the aura for a pleasurable listening experience. The album produced two notable hits in the United Kingdom: "My Mate Paul" and "Don't Die Just Yet," each of which moved up the music charts in 1998. The tune "My Mate Paul" later became a theme for a popular video game. The song was included likewise as a track on Urbal Beats 2: A Definitive Guide,a compilation of electronic tracks released by PolyGram in 1998.
As a techno master, Holmes repeatedly displayed a natural bent both for cleverness and shock value in titling his work. This Film's Crap, Let's Slash the Seats,with its sensational title,attracted the attention of the television and film industries upon its release in 1995. Several tracks were adopted after the fact for the Supply & Demandtelevision series, and another was heard in the feature film, The Game, which starred Sean Penn and Michael Douglas. Additionally, "No Man's Land," the album's lead track, appeared on the original soundtrack for Piand was released on Sire Records in 1998. It was the popularity of The Game that catapulted Holmes to the attention of modern filmmakers who engaged his services for developing new motion picture soundtracks, most notable among them was his contribution to Resurrection Man in 1997.
When Holmes followed the release of 1997's Let's Get Killedwith a compilation of remixes entitled Stop Arresting Artists, the remix served to fuel the escalating popularity of his work. The furor grew with the release of the highly successful Out of Sightsoundtrack for the 1998 feature film starring George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez. The Holmes score for that film proved so impressive that although he originally was hired to score only a handful of tunes for the film, he was later re-assigned to develop the entire project. The final product was characterized by a slow, organ-laced funky mood. Critics applauded the sound and elevated the musician's rapidly rising star higher still. The success of that album re-affirmed Holmes' presence as a creative force in the film industry, as well as a diverse and inventive master of techno and electronica artistry.
Again in 1998, Holmes released Essential Mix 98/01,a precursor to the 1999 reissue of This Film's Crap, Let's Slash the Seats.The re-release included a bonus disc of never released miscellaneous mixes. By the release of Bow Down to the Exit Sign in 2000, Holmes' reputation had solidified as a master of modulation. On Bow Down, perhaps the most melodic of the Holmes repertoire, he performed his trademark mixing magic enhanced by backup musicians. He collaborated with Bobby Gillespie, Martina Toppley-Bird, Andrew Innes, Kevin Shields, and street poet Carl Hancock Rux, among others for the recording sessions in New York City and London. In return for the contributions by Gillespie and Shields, Holmes produced "Blood Money" and "Keep Your Dreams" on XTRMNTRfor Primal Scream. For Bow Down to the Exit Sign, Holmes delegated virtual freedom of style to his various guest artists and abandoned his earlier breakbeat, streetwise inclination in return for a moodier, funk-flavored approach. The album, according to Holmes, was intended for listening as a continual flow of sound and emotion. It served as both inspiration and substance to a screenplay, called The Living Room,by Lisa Barros D'sa. Melody Maker classified the release as "chaos in formaldehyde." Subsequent film soundtrack contributions by Holmes included The Family--a film about the Charles Manson Family--and a remake of Oceans 11.
With increasing notoriety, the time for disc jockey commitments grew sparse, and Holmes learned instead to find sanctuary in the studio. With the May 2000 release of Bow Down, his touring schedule accelerated, usurping even his studio time, with appearances scheduled throughout the British Isles for the spring and summer of 2000.
by Gloria Cooksey
David Holmes's Career
Disc jockey, 1985--; remixer for St. Etienne, Sandals, Justin Warfield, and U2; released debut album, This Film's Crap, Let's Slash the Seats, 1995; released Let's Get Killed, 1997; released Bow Down to the Exit Sign, 2000; has recorded on Warp, Positiva, and Go! Discs record labels; movie soundtrack scores include Out of Sight, 1998.
- Selected discography
- (With Ashley Beedle as the Disco Evangelists)De Niro , Positiva, 1993.
- This Film's Crap, Let's Slash the Seats , Go! Discs, 1995; reissued, Electronic/Big Beat, 1999.
- Let's Get Killed , 1500/A&M, 1997.
- (Contributor) The Game (soundtrack), PLG, 1997.
- (Contributor)Out of Sight (soundtrack), MCA, 1998.
- (Contributor) Pi (soundtrack), Sire, 1998.
- (Contributor) Resurrection Man (soundtrack), 1998.
- Bow Down to the Exit Sign , 1500/A&M, 2000.
- Billboard, October 7, 2000, p. 12.
- Entertainment Weekly, October 24, 1997, p. 66.
- Flaunt,November 2000, p. 74.
- Los Angeles Times, October 22, 2000, p. 1.
- Melody Maker, June 21-27, 2000, p. 75.
- Rolling Stone, January 22, 1998, p. 56; August 20, 1998, p. 28.
- Select, February 2000.
- Spin, December 2000.
- "Biography: David Holmes," Artist Direct, http://ubl.com/fp2.asp?layout=a_bio&artistid=008891 (October 25, 2000).
- Electronica Primer, http://www.plato.nl/e-primer/ (October 27, 2000).
- (M) Muse, http://www.muse.ie/280400/interview/holmes2.html (October 25, 2000).
- "Poll of the Week,"Artist Direct, http://club.imusic.com/showcase/club/davidholmes.html (October 25, 2000).
- SonicNet, http://www.inpaducah.com/allmedia/iyttunes/iytcontent/reviews/review-david_holmes.asp (October 25, 2000).
- Webadelica, http://www.theprimalscream.com/news/holmes.html (October 25, 2000).