Before Irish DJ/producer David Holmes began scoring films such as Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve and The Girlfriend Experience, he was creating cinematic albums. In retrospect his brilliant full-length debut, 1995’s This Films Crap Lets Cut the Seats, which drew influence from thriving dance floor sub-genres of the era ranging from big beat to downtempo, was actually a dress rehearsal for his influential work on the big screen.
Holmes has since established himself as a go-to composer while releasing albums at his leisure. As Holmes well knows sometimes inspiration strikes when you’re least expecting it. A serendipitous meeting in Los Angeles with composer/producer Keefus Ciancia and songwriter-vocalist Jade Vincent led to a musical connection and the birth of Unloved. Drawing from ’60s girl groups to ’80s synth outfits, their soulful debut release, Guilty of Love, is a project with many facets and musical layers.
An artist who has forged an unbreakable connection between film and music, we asked Holmes to share some of the composers who’ve inspired his body of work. “I love all of them for so many reasons,” he prefaces.
The maestro, a complete visionary who changed the face of film music several times. In the ’60s/’70s he would sometimes compose one film per month — that’s an insane amount of output — between 300-400 films in all. EM also embraced the avant-garde and concrete sounds as a very important incrediant within his compositions and made a string of outstanding avant-garde works with Gruppo di Improvvisazione di Nuova Consonanza, which was formed after watching a performance/lecture by John Cage. This cut was a big influence on my score to Ocean’s Twelve.
When Alfred Hitchcock asked Herman to compose the score to Psycho, he was convinced it was a film for TV and not the classic it became. He asked Herman to score it while he went on a two-week vacation but give him one note: DON’T PUT ANY MUSIC IN THE SHOWER SCENE! As we know, the rest is history! Sadly Herman died the day after he finished Taxi Driver, another masterpiece
Largely known for his work with Roman Polanski (Cul-de-sac, Knife in the Water, Rosemary’s Baby) this brilliant Polish jazz pianist never failed to disappoint. Always original but also timeless, his music always finds its way into my record box and has been very influential over the years.
The Ipcress File and Midnight Cowboy, which is my favorite score ever written. It has been a huge influence since my work began as a music producer…and let’s not forget all the best Bond scores ever written were composed by Barry.
This is my first contemporary choice. All my favorite modern day film composers come from the world of avant or pop music, whether it’s Johnny Greenwood, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Cat’s Eyes or Broadcast. I think why I love them so much is because their approach is very fresh and unconventional. Berbarian Sound Studio OST is ridiculous and it stands on its own as a great piece of work. These titles feature the amazing work of Julian House, who did the artwork and videos for Unloved.
The Duke of Burgundy is a stunning score! Like all great OSTs this stands alone as a great record. I hope these guys do more because the Duke of Burgundy didn’t leave my record deck for months! Cat’s Eyes are Faris Badwin from The Horrors and the wonderful Rachel Zeffira, who is also an amazing soprano as well as being an incredible composer and multi instrumentalist.
Nick Cave and Warren Ellis
Two of my favorite contemporary composers! Their work on the assassination of Jesse James, and Warren’s recent score to the Oscar-nominated Mustang, are sublime! Once again two immensely talented avant-pop musicians whose work make my knees buckle.
His score to Juliet Of The Spirits and Casanova directed by Fredrico Fellini are insane. His use of instruments like the crystal cachet, celeste, electric harpsichord and flute on Cassanova are brilliant! Such a big influence.
Best known for his incredibly groundbreaking OST for one of the best-known films from the Czech new wave, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, his use of instrumentation — warped music boxes, harpsichords and pump organs — were a big influence on Cat’s Eyes’ score to Peter Strickland’s brilliant Duke of Burgundy.
Francois De Roubaix
Roubaix was well ahead of his time with Les Dunes D’ostende and is probably one of the most influential composers within sampling culture and the world of hip-hop. Other favorites are his score to Dernier Domicile Connu and the classic Le samurai directed by Jean Pierre Melville.
A huge influence on my score to Yann Demange’s ’71 and a very important figure throughout my career. His soundtracks to Escape From New York and Assault on Precinct 13 still resonate with me to this day.
His score to De Sade and Rendezvous have bled into several of my productions over the years. More known as Morricone’s partner in crime, Bruno remains as influential as ever but a largely unknown figure in the world of film music. He worked on the orchestrations to The Battle of Algiers, another amazing soundtrack written by Ennio. Finders Keepers have been doing some beautiful reissues of his more obscure film work.
Not one to stick to his Japenese cultural roots, he threw himself into Western music ideas — John Cage among many — and became a big influence. Mostly self-taught, he composed over 100 scores. Takemitsu conceived the idea of electronic music technology, or in his own words, to “bring noise into tempered musical tones inside a busy small tube.”