Armand Van Helden is a house music artist and music remixer whose biggest commercial successes came from his remixes of the 1996 Tori Amos song "Professional Widow", which reached the top of the UK singles chart, and his own track "You Don’t Know Me" which was Number 1 in the UK in January 1999.
Van Helden was born in Boston in 1970 to a Dutch-Indonesian father and a French-Lebanese mother, but travelled around the world as a child spending time in the Netherlands, Turkey and Italy, as his father was a member of the US Air Force. At the age of thirteen, he bought a drum machine and started DJing two years later.
He returned to Boston in 1988 but also moonlighted as a DJ in Boston clubs. He attended Boston University. He quit his legal review job in 1989 to work as a remixer/producer for Mega-Mixx Productions DJ Remix Service (co-founded by his long time manager, Neil Petricone) where he reworked and re-edited a number of club records for the DJ-only service, including Shawn Christopher’s "Another Sleepless Night." He also took up an occupancy at ‘The Loft’, Boston’s leading nightclub.
Mega-Mixx’s success was short lived. Mismanagement brought the company to a halt in early 1991. Later that year, he and Petricone, along with founding A&R coordinator, Tony Zeoli, launched X-Mix Productions, a similar DJ Remix service, which still exists today (http://www.xmix.com). Catching the attention of legendary Strictly Rhythm and Nervous Records A&R guru, Glady Pizarro, in 1992 Van Helden released his first official single "Stay On My Mind" under the psuedonym Deep Creed, through Nervous Records.
In the early 90’s, he also released singles on X-Mix sister label, AV8 and DV8 Recordings (The DV8 name was owned by X-Mix until it was purchased by A&M Records). The Pirates of the Caribbean EP on AV8 is a little known, but widely sought after out of print 12" vinyl recording. There were a few hip hop EP’s released on AV8 as well.
He released "Move It To the Left" (credited to Sultans of Swing) in 1992 on the Strictly Rhythm label, which became a moderate club hit. His first track to make the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart was "Witch Doktor" which made the top 5 in 1994.
The success of "Witch Doktor" led to opportunities to remix acts such as The Real McCoy ("Another Night", New Order ("Bizarre Love Triangle"), Blondie ("Atomic), Capella ("U Got To Know"), Lightning Seeds ("Jackie Lucky"), Deep Forest ("Marta’s Song"), Jimmy Somerville ("Heartbeat"), Deee-Lite ("Dewdrops In The Garden") and Faithless ("Insomnia"). However, it was the "Professional Widow" remix that established him and became a dance hit around the world as well as a number one hit in the UK. Unfortunately, Van Helden did not receive a penny for this mix as he presented it uncommissioned, and thus was not entitled to compensation. However, it led to work remixing The Rolling Stones, Janet Jackson, Britney Spears and Puff Daddy as well as Daft Punk and the Sneaker Pimps, and adding to his reputation as one of the world’s top house musicians.
Within dance music circles, Van Helden is widely credited for the introduction of the U.K. bred Speed Garage sound to the U.S. club scene with incredible set of remixes. The sound, identifiable by its deep bass subtones, long melodic breaks, and devestatingly hard hitting beats are exemplified in the following remixes beginning in 1995 with Jimmy Somerville "Heartbeat"; CJ Bolland’s "Sugar Is Sweeter"; Faithless "Insomnia"; Tori Amos "Professional Widow"; Apollo 440 "Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Dub"; and Sneaker Pimps "Spin, Spin, Sugar."
"Cha Cha" was another top ten dance hit from his first album Old School Junkies released in 1996, along with "The Funk Phenomena". A greatest hits album appeared the next year followed by a breakbeat album later in 1997. "U Don’t Know Me," a collaboration with vocalist Duane Harden from the album, "2 Futur 4 U," was a number two hit on the Billboard dance chart, a Number one in the UK and a top 20 single on the pop charts in Australia and Canada.
In 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh, Armand Van Helden explained, "You Don’t Know Me was a perfect example of putting 2 simple things together, the beats from Jaydee’s Plastic Dreams and a disco loop from Carrie Lucas."
Van Helden released the Killing Puritans album in 2000 which contained the dance hit "Koochy". His single "Why Can’t You Spend Some Time" made the number 34 in the UK in 2001. His New York: A Mix Odyssey album released in 2004 produced two hits:
* "Hear my Name" reached number 7 on the Billboard dance chart, was top 30 on world and internet charts, made number 34 in the UK, and reached the top 40 in Australia; and
* "My My My" reached number 4 on the world internet charts, number 5 in the Belgian and Dutch charts, number 6 in Australia, number 15 in the UK and top 30 in the world dance charts.
In 2005 he released the album Nympho featuring the singles "Into Your Eyes", "My My My", "Hear My Name" and "When The Lights Go Down". The album reached the top 30 in Australia, and number 48 in the UK.
Van Helden, who lives in New York City, continues to be managed by Neil Petricone of X-Mix Productions. The management company is based in Somerville, MA, but it has since split with the X-Mix Remix Service, although the two companies do continue to work together on a number co-owned label and distribution projects.
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