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
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
How long has it been since your last
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
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
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
Your CD "NY-A Mixed Odyssey"
has some of your own tracks on it - how
long does that process take for you as
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
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
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
I don't know, it was kinda tribal and
dark and african, like the times where
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
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
Is that what happened? (laughing) Typical
Well thanks so much for your time
with me today! We all look forward to
hearing your latest album "NY- A
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
‘"Not In Love"–
Enrique Inglesias feat. Kelis
"Rock Wit You"– Ashanti
"The Current"– Blue Man
Group feat. Gavin Rossdale
‘"Plug It In"– Basement
"Bob O'Lean"– Aloud