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Armand Van Helden Interview


Armand Van Helden - Hear My Name

Armand Van Helden - Hear My Name

Tommy Boy Records

RS: I have a friend who is to this day obessed with your remix of Locust's "No One In The World". Do you have any interesting stories behind that remix?
AVH: Oh yes, I remember that. Any interesting stories? No, I think I did that with Junior Sanchez though. I think that was one of the ones we kind of screwed around together with.

RS: Of all the mixes you've done what can you point out as your favorite remix?
AVH: I don't personally have a favorite because they're all children to me, or ex-girlfriends, however you want to look at it. They all have their ups and downs, I guess they all have their little qualities to them. I don't know what my number of remixes is to date, but I'm sure it's reaching a hundred or so. In terms of impact, honestly for me, the biggest peak I ever had off one of my records was the first time I ever heard one of my productions on the radio. For me that was huge, it was a whole new level for me.

RS: Was that Witchdokta or which one was it?
AVH: It was Witchdokta. I was like listening to Hot 97 back in the day when it was called something else and they played house, hip-hop and a lot of different stuff. But I remember it was like it came on, Ed Lover was talking and I thought it was big. To me that was one of the peak moments of my career. I don't know why because everything else to me is cool as long as I'm progressing, but it doesn't seem to be as peakish as that. I think it would be the same for anybody, like if you're a guy that was sitting around making these songs in your house and the next thing you know you turn a radio on and this song is actually on the radio, it's probably the highest peak. Maybe no different than your song being on TRL or something like that.

RS: OK. In that regards, a lot of the "dance classics" are getting remixed every year, do you ever see yourself allowing like a Witch Doctor 2005 to happen?
AVH: Actually, I'm a remixer but I don't actually like remixes, it's kind of ironic. I like when a new song comes out and nobody has heard it before then that's cool because it doesn't have any familiarity in the first place. I also like what Kanye West does with sampling loops that people don't really know or the records they even came from. Looping those loops like in terms of hip-hop, I love that.

What I don't like is when people remix the past like remixing Sister Sledge or something, I say leave it alone. That bothers me, so even if it's my music like a record from a year or two years ago that was big, just leave it alone. The crowds love the Bucketheads but when you go out no one plays the original song, they've got to play like the '99 remix or the 2001 remix, or this guy's remix or that guy's remix or something, and then nobody's reacting the same to the record. Like you hear "We Are Family" or "Le Freak" at a wedding and the whole place is like, freak out, they know the song, so they all react to it the same way. Whereas like if you've got like eighty freaking remixes, everybody's going to react differently. It's like I don't know that, oh you don't have that B side of the bootleg of that remix? I hate that shit.

RS: To finish up, do you have any advice for up and coming DJs out there?
AVH: In the early days, Djing was about putting on a good time, nowadays it's more of a show, it's more like entertainment. If you're a dead stiff up on the stage, people think you're not as good as if you wiggle around and throw your hands up in the air. So it's kind of strange, DJing has become more of a performance now when before it was about the music and it wasn't about looking at the DJs. In New York, people still have a problem with looking at the DJ. In the downtown New York City scene they don't really go for that, in terms of the people that want to have fun crowd, not the miserable underground people, the people that want to go out and have a good time. They're not really looking at the DJ, lined up along the DJ booth, they're trying to party and get a piece of ass. So, that's basically the difference and I guess when you're a DJ you just have to decide what you're going to go into. Now, if you're going to go into I'm going to be a house DJ, well obviously you've got to put on a show, people are going to be standing on the booth looking at you or wherever the booth is, it's going to be facing out towards the crowd where you're looked upon as a star in a way. So if you're up and coming you kind of have to put on a show. But people know if you're not playing through your heart so basically it's like a karma common thing, you play what you like even if other people don't like it, but not for a long time, you've got to know how to play what they want to hear and maybe what you want to educate them with. You got to know how to give them a party and educate at the same time.

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