James Holden is a British electronic music artist and DJ. After beginning his career as a DJ and producer, Holden has moved extensively into live performance and founded his own record label Border Community.
Holden grew up in Market Bosworth, Leicestershire, before studying mathematics at Oxford University. He started his career in 1999 at age 19 and swiftly gained wider recognition with the release of the trance single “Horizons”. This “crossover anthem of the summer of 1999” was picked up by Pete Tong, John Digweed and Nick Warren, quickly propelling Holden to a wider audience.
In the subsequent years, Holden released numerous singles and remixes on various labels including Lost Language, Perfecto Recordings, and Positiva Recordings. His remix credits for this period include artists such as Madonna, Britney Spears, Depeche Mode, New Order, Nathan Fake and Kieran Hebden & Steve Reid.
In 2013, Holden released his second album The Inheritors. After the record’s release, Thom Yorke invited Holden to support Yorke’s band Atoms For Peace on their US tour. These shows consisted of Holden performing on modular synth alongside drummer Tom Page (of experimental electronic duo Rocketnumbernine and The Memory Band). This transition from DJing to live performance would be a significant development in Holden’s career and would spark a long-term musical relationship with Page.
The significance of Holden’s embracing of live performance was clear to see in his third album, The Animal Spirits. Recorded at Holden’s London studio Sacred Walls, the album saw Holden leading a five-piece band spanning live drums, saxophone, other woodwinds and North African instruments. This array of musicians allowed Holden to create a “spiritual jazz band playing folk/trance music” whilst keeping his “ever strident synth… front and centre”. The music was recorded live, without edits or overdubs, and was influenced both in sound and concept by the works of Don Cherry, Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders.