By Rebecca Bulnes
By Laurie Charles
By Chuck Strouse
By Lee Zimmerman
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By Hans Morgenstern
He's remixed Elvis, Madonna, and Britney into credible techno formation — and, in the King's case, number one status all over again — as well as collaborated with Robert Smith, Gary Numan, and Dave Gahan on original ideas. But Amsterdam's Junkie XL (born Tom Holkenborg) is audibly excited about working with fresh talent on his fifth album, Booming Back at You.
That includes young artists like Lauren Rocket, age 21, who lends her unfettered vocals to "No Way," "Cities in Dust" (a high-octane version of the Siouxsie and the Banshees original), and first single "More," a plea to enjoy more naked recreation. Since his last album, 2003's Radio JXL, online social networking has bloomed, and he's used it as a tool to allow his music to be shaped by interaction with and feedback from fans all over the world.
"I've been communicating a lot with my friends [on MySpace] for the past two or three years, and rather than do something conceptual with this album, I finally decided after the 13 or 14 years that I've existed as Junkie XL, just to make an album that is technically what I do live," he explains. "It's raw, it's uplifting, it has a lot of energy, and it's punky. That's also why the album is called what it is; it's like, 'Here it is, guys, booming back at you!'"
Now in his fifth year of living in L.A.'s Venice Beach area, a location that teeters between edgy gangland and chic playland (and affords him many opportunities for film and videogame soundtrack work), Junkie seems to have made an easy transition from Smoke City to Smog City. "There are two spots in L.A. that feel somewhat close to what Amsterdam did for me, and they are Silver Lake and Venice. Here in Venice, they say it's 'Where art meets crime,'" he laughs, "but it has both, and Amsterdam does as well. They're both very vibrant, where one block is super off and the next is completely nice; where there's a bunch of weird guys hanging on the corner, and opposite that corner is a nice design house and a gallery. It just goes back and forth, and I really like it." It's little wonder why he finds Miami such an exciting place to perform.