Arman Van Helden Arrives
Written By Dom Loomes
- News & Culture
- Arman Van Helden Arrives
Junction 1 is an innovative, regenerative, and multi-purposeful, creative event space that welcomes and celebrates meaningful ways of seeing musical, artistic, cultural, and environmental practices, whilst simultaneously setting out to change localised relationships and economies, and redesign and reimagine our physical and psychological minds. When finalised, Junction 1 will be Glasgow’s and Scotland’s largest outdoor venue and will be the foundations for which people can create and cultivate collective ideas and action, for the preferences of the planet and human and non-human species. The design of this new ecosystem will invite architectural creativity, ecological diversity and design, and grassroots acts and sounds, for the mixing of many experimental languages and cultural flourishing. Junction 1 is a synergetic cooperation of localised and globalised artists and pioneering performers and propagators of change. The features and formulas of Junction 1 hold important components for the evolution of Glasgow’s East End landscape, and subsequently, and continually, beyond the parameters of the city.
Armand van Heldan is a legendary mixer, producer, DJ, and songwriter, and is largely considered one of house music’s most esteemed players and the pioneer of speed garage. Van Heldan has been curating and crafting serious sounds for three decades, mastering his signature, and collaborating with a plethora of prominent musical figures. Since the early and mid 1990 era, Van Helden was considered one of the best remixers in the industry. His style consists of a range of remixes and usually uses samples of funk, soul, R&B, and hip hop. He also applies filters and dub progressions, as in NYC beat, dancehall and reggae samples. Some of his most respected tracks include “You Don’t Know Me,” “I Want Your Soul,” “My My My” featuring Tara Mcdonald. With Van Heldon playing the Ministry of Sound in London last September, Junction 1 has the privilege of presenting Van Heldon to the main stage this summer in Glasgow, Scotland.
Armand Van Heldon’s childhood spanned many borders and customs, with his father being of Dutch-Indonesian descent, and his mother, French-Lebanese. The majority of his time was spent in the Netherlands, Latvia, Turkey, and Italy as his father was a member of the U.S. Air Force. Experiencing and enthralling himself in new earthly wonders, and the dynamics of music culture, at the age of 13, Van Heldon purchased a drum machine, and two years later he started mixing, predominantly freestyle and the many flavours of hip hop. Boston-based, Van Heldon attended college whilst simultaneously proceeding to production in the after hours. In 1991, he began to focus on full-time production with his future manager, Neil Perticone, as part of the remix service X-Mix Productions. During the same period, Van Helden also owned space at Boston’s Loft, which soon advanced at such a level that the residency became one of the most renowned and go-to nightclubs in the city. In 1992, Van Helden played one of his demos to the dance A&R guru Gladys Pizzaro, proceeding, he released his bona fide debut, Deep Creed’s “Stay on My Mind,” as part of Nervous Records.
In 1993, adapting and advancing in the muse of music, Van Helden launched his track “Move it to the Left” by Sultans of Swing, which was his first single for the emerging American dance label Strictly Rhythm. The single reached reasonable high water, yet Van Heldon continued to out-do himself, with his 1994 “Witch Doctor,” also under Strictly Rhythms wing. The single communicated high-tempo rapture and continued to encircle the international dance floor, leveraging Van Helden’s recognition for musical wisardry and his popularity in the realm of dance. After unreiling his musical greatness, Van Helden became one of the top name in dance music, in all respects. Some of his club hit collaborations include the likes of Erick Morillo, George Morel, Masters at Work, Roger Sanchez, and Todd Terry. On an equal paradigm, Van Helden’s remixed tracks from Deee-Lite, Deep Forest, Faithless, Jimmy Somerille, New Order, and Tori Amos’ “Professional Widow," with all becoming cherished club anthems. During his climb in 1996-1997, Van Helden became synonymous with sound innovation, and the progression of the pop and dance genres. His allegiance to reshape and remix particular sounds admitted him to work further with huge names such as the Rolling Stones, Janet Jackson, and Puff Daddy to Sneaker Pimps, C.J. Bolland, and Daft Punk.
His own releases continued to be insurmountable, with huge numbers like “Cha Cha” and “The Funk Phenomena,” including the release of his first 1996 album, “Old School Junkies.” Following his deep dive into the many piquancies of the musical experience, Van Helden began to recline retroactively, focusing more towards old school hip hop and his rap roots. This is evident in his representing, raw, and bassline beat collection, “Sampleslayer”... Enter the Meatmarket.” This piece is a tribute and a pure musical payback to all the legendary hip hop MVP’s. Following, in 1998 Van helden revealed his “2 Future 4 U” album, which procured heavy success in the UK, becoming a number one single with his track “U Don’t Know Me” featuring vocals from Duane Harden, as well as his Top 20 succeeding track “Flowerz,” alongside the soft and delicate operatics of Roland Clark. In 1998, Van Helden was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Remixed Recording.
At the turn of the century, Van Helden reinstated his distinction with his album “Killing Puritans,” which accommodated his hit track “Koochy,” which was designed around a sample of Gary Numan’s fabled “Cars.” In 2001, Gandi Khan wasn’t far behind, creating fresh and eastern-enthused reverberaions. The album is also enthused and pollinated with short and somewhat satirical snippets of arbitrary axioms and meanings. The 0:13 second song “Karma Knowledge” which states as follows “For in that day you shall know the hidden purposes in all things, and you shall bless darkness as you would bless light.” Hidden messages are adrift in this collection, and Van Helden makes palpable his inclinations towards eastern philosophy and his surfacing of spirituality. The album also consists of central asian/ south asian undertones, such as the satar of India and tales from the doumbek drums in Eastern Corners, perhaps alluding to his Lebanese roots and his fond childhood memories in Turkey. The track “Why Can’t U Free Some Time” is a tight house beat, with Van Heldon seemingly drawing inspiration from Daft Punk. “Flyaway Love Pt.2” is equally a dynamic dance number, with offerings from the disco genre.
In 2004, New York: A Mix Odyssey arose, encompassing iconic three-pointers “Hear My Name” with Spalding Rockwell and “My My My” alongside Tara McDonald. Both of these tracks were contained on Van Helden’s 2005 studio compilation “Nympho,” with “My My My” evolving into a second-time chart hit with its re-release and re-mastery in 2006. A year after, Van Helden’s 2007 Ghettoblaster album became a classic rendition of perfectly attuned ‘80s dance music and freestyle feeling, and his 2008 pieces “Retrospective You Don’t Know Me: The Best of Armand Van Helden and New York: A Mix Odyssey, Pt. 2 both appeared, with strong and classic sounds.
One of Van Helden’s most acclaimed and commercially credible tracks is his 2009 contemporary complextro “Bonkers” in collaboration with British rapper Dizzee Rascal. This recording became number 1 on the UK Dance Chart and reached a respective number 2 on the Billboard Dance Chart. The music video that accompanies the release is an energetic, fish-eye encapsulated, and vibrant depiction of fast-paced rhymes and classic house. It is said that Van Helden emailed the instrumentals to Dizzee when he was in the US. Dizzee instantaneously saw its huge potential for wide success, and wrote the lyrics with this in mind in only 25 minutes. Dizzee Rascal performed the song live during the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic games as a homage to the greatness of British pop and rap music. In the same year, Van Helden established the DJ duo Duck Sauce with Canadian DJ A-Trak. Their song “Barbra Streisand” topped the charts in 12 countries, and likewise received a nomination at the 54th Grammy Awards for Best Dance Recording. The tune was shaped around the communicable Boney M sample, and gain viral recognition primarily due to its music video. The visuals consists of a compilation of ordinary happenings around New York City, the vitality and energy of the big city, whilst also cutting to detailed shots of the make-up of the song, and Armand Van Heldon himself. The track also featured cameos by Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, Andre 3000, and various other famous musicians. Duck Sauce also released the singles “aNYway” which climbed to Number 1 on the UK Dance Chart, and “Big Bad Wolf” and NRG,” with these releases leading up to the full-length album “Quack” which landed in 2014.
Many acclaimed pop and electronic artists continued to combine efforts and work alongside Van Helden, with Disclosure, Madonna, and Sam Smith being only a few of his partners. In 2015, Van Helden revealed “Masterpiece,” a three-CD compilation on Ministry of Sound. One track consisted of old-school early day tracks, one was devoted to yacht rock, and the third was a mix of ‘80s freestyle. In 2016, Defected Presents House Masters anointed Van Helden’s recording career with another retrospective award.
Some other Van Heldon remixes that are worth mentioning are "Spin Spin Sugar" by Sneaker Pimps, The Bomb! (These Sounds Fall into My Mind) by The Bucketheads, and Sugar Is Sweeter by CJ Bolland. Recent releases include the single "I Need a Painkiller" and "Wings" produced in 2018 and 2016 respectively.
Van Helden is a musical phenomena that is widely considered as one of the best kept secrets in House music to date. Headlining East End Electronic along with many talented and esteemed performers, Van Helden and others are an eclectic and energising synergy of sound that will spark true and fruitful experiences this summer. Book your tickets on our website today.