While in Boston, Armand struggled to make ends meet. Going to school full-time and working a job as well, it was hard for him to adapt to his new city. "Boston was rough, but at the same time, my proving grounds." Rough because he worked more hours than there were in a day while barely making enough money to survive. It came to a point where his diet consisted of stolen diner ketchup and dinner rolls. Eventually he adapted to the environment and began to thrive. He picked up turntables and DJed in local clubs, met his manager Neil Petricone who was then starting the fledgling remix service X-Mix and he became extremely street savvy. After growing roots, through his edits for X-Mix and his residency at legendary afterhours spot The Loft, it was time for Armand to make the move to New York because according to him he was "a little rough-neck kid in grave danger of getting my ass whooped." Besides worrying about imminent death, he wanted to be a bit closer to the action since many New York labels had been showing an interest in his original productions.
But for Armand, the past is the past. The kid lives in the future most of the time and doesn't like to worry himself with the details of days gone by. As a matter of fact, Van Helden isn't phased by much. Grammy nominations, constant calls from all over the world to DJ, lucrative remix offers -- stuff that would make most producer/DJ's ecstatic doesn't affect him one bit. "I consider my Grammy nomination as low food chain. I think everything I do is small time." Basically, the man thinks big. A lot bigger then the CEO of American Express. A lot bigger than a Big Mac, even A lot bigger than how much the "gotta be big" Tori Amos remix was. To him, being big-time is winning an oscar award. "You got an oscar sitting in your house, that's BIG. People say I'm big, that I'm the man, but I'm the man to WHO?" Well, everytime the CJ Bolland remix is dropped in a club and the crowd screams -- that's pretty big now isn't it Armand?
"Not really. I could play in a room of 25,000 people in my face and they're all screaming and pulling out their hair and it doesn't move me. I'm not a performer, so it doesn't impress me. I'm just not into shows -- whether it be theatre or anything, I'm just not into 'em. If one of my friends call up and is like 'Yo! I got tickets for this or that,' I'm like 'give em to someone else!' For me, I'm like 'I'll buy your CD' and that's all I need to have. Music videos I love too. So basically IÕll watch you on TV and buy your CD, but that's it."