DJ Ron Slomowicz: So where have you been the past few years?
Armand Van Helden: Basically, I did put out music but it was more underground, like Stupid Fresh and Ghandi Khan. Besides that, I have a pretty laid back style of work; I borderline on lazy. I like to live before I like to work.
RS: Your new CD - New York: A Mix Odyssey is your first ever mix CD. How did you approach putting together the project?
AVH: It was a combo effort with the UK label, Southern Fried. They wanted to do a mixed CD that was a little different and that exactly what I was trying to do. Southern Fried wanted to do something like the downtown New York scene. That's where I go out when I go out. It's pretty, not like the CD, but it's an attempt. The downtown scene is like nothing else I have seen in my travels. The clubs will play Jay Z into AC/DC, then Pat Benetar into 50 Cent and then George Michael. It doesn't make any sense but that's typically the New York downtown scene. The mix CD was kind of representing that scene - 70s, 80s and some early 90s mostly mixed with hip-hop and that's New York. They do play house but it's more of the classics when house music was still black music like the late 80s/early 90s.
RS: The CD is quite different than the normal "what are the hottest tracks I can get licensed" CDs that I get from most DJs. It's a totally different vibe, it's really cool.
AVH: Yes, it's a different take. We wanted to do something different because too many people are doing "I've got to be Cool" mix CDs. It's not really about that for me, I like to have a good time and I don't care otherwise. We call it Cool Cheese, that's the new thing.
RS: How did you choose the 80s tracks like, for example, why the Romantics?
AVH: I grew up listening to music and I'm a record collector so I have probably every song from the CD on 12", even "Black Betty," a special release that Epic did in 1988. When you talk to me about music it's pretty much, how deep is the rabbit in the hole <laughing>. I submitted over 100 songs for the CD and I was happy with all the tracks that were approved and seleced. You can't ask a person like me to pick ten songs for a mixed CD, it's impossible.
RS: So you went through your record collection and said I want these songs and whatever you had cleared you went with?
RS: That makes sense. I noticed the UK CD is different from the US CD, the US CD has the Yes track at the end and the UK CD doesn't, is there a reason for that?
AVH: I don't even know. I keep forgetting to mention that when I hang out with the folks, but it probably has something to do with a licensing thing.
RS: Your new tracks for the CD, did you produce them to fit the sound of the compilation or did the compilation just seem to fit the sound of the tracks?
AVH: I did one take on the of mix CD very nice and smooth DJish like a real DJ set with turntables and CD, but they didn't like it . They said this was too smooth and too normal, we want this to be all over the place. If we put BPMs all over the place, how is it going to work. How am I going to go from a 145 beats per minute Blondie into a 129 bpm house record? That annoys people. So most of these mixes were done by DJ / ProTools.
RS: OK. Well like the new tracks you did, like To "Hear My Name" and "My, My, My," did you produce those to fit the compilation somehow or where did those tracks come from?
AVH: I had submitted an artist album and they liked those particular cuts. Southern Fried suggested that we sneak those particular cuts onto the mixed compilation CD. In this day and age, in terms of the music industry, you take what you can get. If they think that's the best strategy, then I agree. I like to drop artist albums which are usually my style. They said that I had been away for a while and people didn't like me, so with this whole art-of-war tactic, we slipped three songs into the mixed CD. I don't know, it's beyond me, but that's how they do it in the music industry.