Hall of Fame - David Holmes

Stuart Bailie takes David Holmes' score

David Holmes is a DJ, a film soundtrack composer, a remixer, a club host, a record label boss and a sometime bandleader. By anyone’s standards, he is fearless and fast-thinking, and he’s managed to sustain an international career from his Belfast home base. His music features in Hollywood films and in art house projects. He makes commercially successful records, but also reserves the right to make challenging, left-field productions.

He was born in 1969, off the Ormeau Road. The youngest of a large family, he gleaned the essentials of punk and mod culture from his brothers and sisters, and also frequented the local Curzon Cinema, where he was in thrall to films such as Quadrophenia.

By the age of 15, he was DJ-ing in local mod clubs. This prepared him for the arrival of house music in 1988, which he adopted with great enthusiasm. He was sourcing his records from America and soon he was co-hosting the legendary Sugar Sweet nights at the Art College in the city centre. He was booking appearances from the likes of Orbital and Sabres Of Paradise, and steady streams of revellers were arriving from Manchester and London, keen to experience this vital club.

A few remix projects led to more ambitious commissions from The Sandals and The Sabres Of Paradise. He was also collaborating with friends on original material, billed as The Disco Evangelists on the 1992 track 'De Niro'. This featured a sample from an Ennio Morricone theme, and thereafter, Holmes would be described as 'cinematic'. A solo track, 'Johnny Favourite' was inspired by the film Angel Heart and a tense instrumental, 'No Man’s Land’ was his response to the film In The Name Of The Father.

This appeared on his debut album, This Film’s Crap Let’s Slash The Seats (1995), which led to David providing music for the Resurrection Man soundtrack in 1997. On Let’s Get Killed (1997) David plotted a real journey though the underbelly of New York, which led to a job with the director Steven Soderbergh on Out Of Sight (1998).

Another solo album, Bow Down To The Exit Sign (2000), featured more live musicians plus guest appearances from Bobby Gillespie, the Primal Scream vocalist and Jon Spencer. David was reunited with Soderbergh for Ocean’s Eleven (2001) which highlighted the Belfast boy’s control of mood and continuity, enhanced by jazz musicians and a semi-obscure Elvis song, ‘A Little Less Conversation’.

He was now turning down lucrative film jobs, preferring to keep his work fresh and uncharted. A mix CD, Come Get It, I Got It, featured on his new label, 13amp, which would also release David Holmes Presents The Free Association (2002), a musical collective that he also took out for a series of live dates.

There were more soundtrack commissions with Buffalo Soldiers (2001), Analyze That (2002), Stander (2003) and Michael Winterbottom’s Code 46 (2004). He was also involved in the music for Ocean’s Twelve from a very early stage, plotting the change of scenery from Las Vegas to Europe, weaving in obscure old music from France and Germany and creating his own visionary tunes to enhance the action. The film was released in America in 2004.