Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL Explore the Intersection of Electronic Music and Film Scores

IMS/Salim Lamrani

Junkie XL (left) and Hans Zimmer at the IMS Engage Conference in Los Angeles

Film composer Hans Zimmer and the electronic musician and film composer Junkie XL were well aware they were taking a meandering journey as they spoke about the evolution of electronic music as used in film scores during the International Music Summit on April 16.

Their stories connected dots between the innovative German bands Can and Kraftwerk and the scores of films such as “Inception” and “Amazing Spider-Man 3.” They spoke about the inspiration of scores for “Blade Runner,” "Midnight Express” and “Chariots of Fire.” They also got into the nitty gritty of modular synthesizers and various devices they have collected  -- and never discarded -- over the last 30-plus years.

“We've been Trojan horsing, pushing the orchestra to evolve and finding new ways to record,” Zimmer said at the gathering at the W Hotel in Hollywood. “Electronic music lends itself to an abstract way of storytelling, so it keeps evolving. There's a whole movement truly driving music further and there is no other music innovating [as much as film music]."

This year, Junkie XL has scored “Divergent” and “300: Rise of an Empire,” played bass in Zimmer's band for the score of “Amazing Spider-Man 3” and spent several months writing for “Mad Max: Fury Road,” a project he expects to last a full year. He learned by working with Zimmer and Harry Gregson-Williams from 2002 to 2005, diving in headfirst about three years ago.

“Film scoring is something you can do until you die,” he said. “The stress and the pressure [mounts] but the moments of joy -- I have never felt so strong as I have in film. The lows, when you can't deliver, those are new lows and I have never felt that low as when I was just Junkie XL, electronic artist.”