909rewind Vol. 22… Armand Van Helden
Welcome to 909rewind, a series from 909originals that explores the early musical careers of some of clubland’s biggest names, uncovering hidden gems and familiar classics from the archives.
For the latest instalment, we explore the early career of an artist who been behind some of the tastiest house tracks of the past three decades, and who also happens to celebrate his 50th birthday today… the one and only Armand Van Helden. 🙂
Having DJed around his native Boston in the late 80s, Van Helden’s production nous was honed on early releases on Nervous Records (as Deep Creed) and Strictly Rhythm, under aliases such as Banji Boys and Sultans of Swing.
But it was arguably 1994’s Witch Doktor EP that established the young producer as one of the most revered names in house music, while his reworks of Barbara Tucker’s I Get Lifted and Sagat’s Luvstuff earned him serious stripes as a remixer.
Throughout the rest of the 90s, those skills would he honed on CJ Bolland’s Sugar Is Sweeter, Sneaker Pimps’ Spin Spin Sugar and Tori Amos’ Professional Widow, as the nascent speed garage movement took hold.
Speaking to Red Bull Music Academy in 2015, Van Helden explained how the now legendary mix of Professional Widow came together.
“Professional Widow, the original song, is a slow, really not moving song. It’s nothing like the dance remix. It was me going through the parts on DAT and fast forwarding to the bass, taking one little part and thinking, ‘Oh, that’s cool.’ So three-and-a-half minutes in off the bass stem, I just grabbed one little bar.
“Some producers start jumping around on the studio couch: ‘This is a hit’. I’ve never once in my life done that, because I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s almost like a pirate to a degree.”
Our 909originals playlist covers the period from Van Helden’s early productions up to 1999’s 2 Future 4 U – three hours of booty shaking beats for your listening pleasure.
Happy birthday Armand!