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ARMAND VAN HELDEN GETS paid more for a DJ set than most of us spend on music in a lifetime. To get him to remix your track would cost you as much as a house. He has just hit number one in the UK charts with the disco house anthem 'You Don‘t Know Me‘ and has an agonisingly brilliant album out later this month. Not trying to put him down. but he did start younger than most. As far back as he can remember. Van llelden knew all he wanted to do was play records for people.
‘I told my mother when l was seycn years old I wanted to be a DJ.’ he says. laughing at the memory. ‘Aw. she always reminds me of that. That‘s how it started. yeah. When I'd be at friends houses and the girls would be playing at being Barbie. I‘d be Ken. but Ken the radio announcer saying ‘Hey - you‘re going to hear this song. and it‘s
8 TIIE LIST 4—18l.‘.ar 1999
like this‘. L'h huh. I had early ambitions.’
The 28-year-old citizen of New York made a name for
himself primarily through his prolific remix work. with projects in the last fiye years running into the hundreds. He was the guy who took Tori Amos‘s frankly bizarre folky warblings on ‘Professional Widow" and catapulted them onto the dancefloor with a phat basslinc and epic breakdown — inyenting speed garage at the same time. Such a tiresome concept as musical genre means absolutely nothing to him. he’s
just working so far ahead of
everyone else in the game. l’rom boogie house. scorched hip hop. drum 8.: bass. brutal techno to filter disco. Van llelden is breaking the boundaries of dance music on a funk-fuelled wrecking mission.
Although his new album is
'If I was ever to do a show, I'll have maybe 50 people on stage - Brazilian capoeira dancers, beautiful girls with snakes, some fire, witchdoctors, all types of crazy shit.’
Armand Van Helden
rather leadingly titled 2l’uturv-IL'. he draws immensely from what has come before. ‘I use a lot of elements from the past. but I do it in a way that I'm hoping is a trend for the future.. he says. ‘Most house producers are too much into their equipment. They’re sitting there for ten years trying to make it work. playing with their keyboards and their patches. bass players and drummers. and nothing happens. I come along and straight-loop a track in my sleep and put a vocal over it. It's not rocket science. but it works.’ Van Helden is renowned for using samples in his tracks that take people years to work out where they came from. A half- dozen bulletin boards on the internet are dedicated to fans trying to work out their origins. In his spare time. you'll find Van Helden in charity shops thumbing through the records to find the long forgotten track with a