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Armand Van Helden is definitely a DJ with attitude. From first glance he appears to be quite street smart and tough, but after speaking with him, I learned there is a lot more to this DJ than just his looks and love of music. I also learned about his love of fishing. The only DJ to ever elude me for an interview back at the 2003 Winter Music Conference's Wet Grooves Party, I have since yearned to get him on our site, and finally, I did get him on the phone for this interview. Armand recently released his first ever (hard to believe, but true) DJ mix compilation, New York: A Mix Odyssey as well as a bunch of new remixes. Find out what he has to say about his music, his background, and even more importantly how life is like fishing: you just never know what your going to catch...

Annalee: It's rumored that you got your 1st big break at the Winter Music Conference, how did that happen?

Armand Van Helden: I don't even know man, I've been in this arena for almost, something like 10 years so I've had about, 4 or 5 downs, when people didn't like my sound but I always came back.

How long has it been since your last release?

Well you know I've put out stuff independently and they don't get much daylight, but I have always continuously put out music, I still do music, just sometimes it doesn't wind up the press machine. I wouldn't say my work style is frantic,I work for like two months and then like nothing for the next two, no plans on being like Madonna and take over the world or something... I don't want to be old with all this money, I like to live my life as best I can. It's a scam, this whole 59.5 year old retirement thing, I don't want to get old. Fishing is a craft that relates to everything in the music industry, you can take any ideology from fishing and relate it to the industry.

So do you fish?!

Yeah, on a nice day, in the park with no one telling me what to do.

Your latest album is released on Tommy Boy records, how did you get in business with them?

Tommy Boy records major independent label, in other words, they are like a Major label but aren't. Back in the 80's they were probably responsible for like 80% of the Hip Hop records out there

You started out with Hip Hop is that correct?

Not really, as a kid around 8 yrs old I liked disco and rock so my taste was already fucked up!

Is DJing a full time thing for you?

It's hard to explain what you do to your family members.... my Aunts and Uncles have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm like, I wake up when I want, I work when I want, and they are all like "WHAT? Where's your boss???!!" They just can't understand.

Your CD "NY-A Mixed Odyssey" has some of your own tracks on it - how long does that process take for you as an artist?

Um, it depends, sometimes it takes a couple of hours and sometimes it can take a couple of days, but usually not more than that because if it doesn't come together quickly - just dump it, because your probably changing it too much. The fun stuff is the stuff that comes together quick.

There are a lot of great songs on there, Blondie, Gary Wright, etc. I'm so exited to hear that! How did you pick the songs and remix them?

All those classic songs were just mixed differently, you really can't do that without permission, so we found a sneaky way to do it, if you edit a song, it's a whole legal area you don't want to get into, those artists aren't used to having their music edited so I pretty much just leave those alone and let them play.

Lets talk about your original tracks, you have 3 of them on here, Hear My Name, My My My, Let Me Lead You.. what type of music is this CD?

This music is to describe NYC, its all mixed up, Hip Hop, Rock House, etc. It's all crazy down here, just fun party stuff, the mixed CD is kinda representing that.

How is the NY scene? where do you go to have fun?

I never play NY, I enjoy my free time here, but I like to go out and listen to other DJ's the scene is always the same, it's consistently good, Imean there are like 10 night clubs, lounge bars and clubs etc. I mean there is always drama with club owner, they shut the club down and within 2 weeks another one pops up and takes over. I really only like DJ AM and a few others, so I'll go see them.

You grew up on Army Bases when you were a child tell me a little about that?

Yeah I grew up in Europe as a kid, and I was really into Hip Hop, then when I moved to the states, I listed to house music, as kid, I didn't like European music, it's funny.

So you moved to NY in 92' and were DJing and Producing?

Nah, that was back in the old days in Boston,

Oh I'm sorry I'm just reading straight off your bio...

My press info is sooo funny, its like never quite right, sorry!

(Annalee is laughing) Did you ever check your website to see if the
info was correct?

Nah, I don't care!

It says your life really changed with the Witch Doktor...

Yeah that was my first hit, I had a string of releases up to that record, and people didn't really respond, but when WD came out, it was my big break, it expanded from NY to the UK.

Where did you get that name Witch Doktor?

I don't know, it was kinda tribal and dark and african, like the times where back then.

So you worked with Tori Amos also the Sneaker Pimps on remixes - how does that process work?

Yeah I did a remix for her, it ending up becoming a pretty big deal. How is works here is like the label calls my management, gets me the song to me and I work on it, they actually (the label) is like "who's hot right now" to remix a song for the clubs? It's like that kinda,

Does the fact that you are listed as #1 on a lot of different charts motivate you at all to be better?

Nah not at all my motivation comes from myself, so um, I do like the work, but it goes back to like that movie, Perfect Storm, like the fishing thing, I enjoy my work, my work is my work that's what I do, its my craft.

That's wonderful that you actually get to do what you love - that must make you really happy.

Yeah its nice, I wake up and roll out of bed and go down the hall to the studio.

Ok so I have to call you on this one thing, in 2003 at the WMC's Wet Grooves party at the Shelbourne, I asked you for an interview, you said you would be right back and totally dissed out on me! What gives?

Is that what happened? (laughing) Typical of me!

Well thanks so much for your time with me today! We all look forward to hearing your latest album "NY- A Mixed Odyssey."

Ah no problem.


Look for these remixes done by Armand that are available now:
"Je Suis Music"- Cerrone
"Opa Opa" - Despina Vandi
"Forca" - Nelly Furtado
‘"Toxic"– Britney Spears
‘"Not In Love"– Enrique Inglesias feat. Kelis
"Rock Wit You"– Ashanti
"The Current"– Blue Man Group feat. Gavin Rossdale
‘"Plug It In"– Basement Jaxx
"Bob O'Lean"– Aloud




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