You chose the moniker Junkie XL because of your workaholic nature. Is that true? How many hours a day do you spend working on music?
I’ve got different day schedules, but an average day starts at five in the morning, and I usually go until nine at night. If it’s crunch time, I’ll get up earlier in the morning. I had a few crunch days this week where I’m up by 3AM and I worked about 18 hours until 9PM.
I guess it pays off because on your new Booming Back At You, you’ve got a kick-ass rework of Siouxsie & The Banshees’ “Cities In Dust” that I can’t stop listening to. What inspired you to work on that particular track?
It’s always fun to work on an older song that hasn’t been touched yet, but every track from the ’80s has been remixed and redone or something like that. I was having dinner with a friend in Venice at this total dive—some little Mexican place—and they were playing Mexican music all night. Then, for whatever reason, they played that track. We both thought ‘Fuck, we should do something with this track.’ I did some research online and I couldn’t find anyone who had redone the track, so I worked on it and found the singer who could capture the vibe I was going for.
How did you go about tracking down Lauren Rocket to sing on that track . . . and why did you pick her?
For this album I wanted to focus on new talent and people who are just starting their careers, as opposed to people who are well known, or who already have a career. I’ve done that in that past, where I’ve worked with Dave Gahan and Robert Smith and Chuck D, but LA is like London or New York: It’s a big city where people go to start a career. There is a lot of talent in this city alone. You don’t have to look elsewhere.
You’ve worked with other legends like Gary Numan. Do you ever get a little star struck?
There’s an interesting dynamic there. When I met Gary Numan, I was like, “Oh my god! It’s fucking Gary Numan!” Then, once we got to know each other, he was honored to work with me. For them it’s really interesting that a young kid on the block approaches them to do something together. I can only say that all the people I’ve worked with are all super mellow and they’re in it to make something cool. Most of those people seem unapproachable, you know? They’re way up there in a tower and you can never get there. Forget about it. But the opposite is true.
You could easily put out an album with 12 or 15 club-banging singles, but Booming Back At You is a bit more restrained. What keeps you from putting out an album that’s nothing but club tracks?
I think it’s the nature of the animal, and that’s what I am. I try to keep things as interesting as I can, but it changes completely over time. There are different time periods where you feel totally different about how you should approach your music. The most important thing for me is that the music is a capturing of the moment. When I made this album I wanted a very specific vibe. It’s an uplifting vibe, and I wanted to put a lot of elements from my live show into the album and make it uplifting with some elements of rock. You know, just good vibes.
Junkie XL performs of Saturday