Armand Van Helden
Armand’s name comes from a Dutch-Indonesian father and a French-Lebanese mother. A US Air Force baby, Armand grew up on bases around the world. Moving back to Boston in 1988, this hip hop and house-obsessed teenager quickly fell into a bad boy lifestyle, hustling to pay for a studio engineering course and generally making a nuisance of himself.
Moving to New York, he learned a different kind of hustle: hanging out in full-on rave clubs by night, looking for DJ gigs and record deals by day. Just one of a thousand young hopeful studio bucks. This all changed with “The Witch Doktor,” his 1994 single on Strictly Rhythm. Unlike most regular house records coming out of New York, “The Witch Doktor” was evil: a voodoo brew of punishing techno drums and rave sirens. It was massive with discerning DJs on both sides of the Atlantic. Rent paying remixes followed for a succession of cheesy pop acts: everyone from Jimmy Somerville to The Real McCoy and Ace Of Base was put through the Van Helden mangle. Of course, the results were always the same: a heady, hardcore mix of techno noise and house hedonism. And all the time he was putting out a stream of sample hardcore hip hop and house under a dozen aliases: Pirates of the Caribbean, Funky Shelltoes, Hardheads. Some of these deeply underground breakbeat assaults even found their way into the Heavenly Social-bound record boxes of The Chemical Brothers, making Armand an unwitting midwife at the birth of big beat.
In 1996, his unforgettable mix of Tori Amos’ “Professional Widow” went to Number one in the UK and his net worth went through the roof. His influential sub-bass heavy mixes of CJ Bolland’s “Sugar Is Sweeter” and The Sneaker Pimps’ “Spin Spin Sugar” put him at the genesis of UK garage. Never one to play by the rules, his debut artist album for FFrr/London was a hip-hop heavy mash up of rap, funk and reggae samples.
Now with a third shockingly brilliant new album, it’s time for house music’s pretenders to take cover and to face the future. “Killing Puritans” is the house album of the new millennium. Every year house music throws up one classic LP, one record that spins the world on it’s head, sets new standards and makes the competition shake their heads in disbelief. It’s set to be everything Basement Jaxx’s “Remedy” was for 1999, and Daft Punk’s “Homework” was for 1997. Quite simply, the bomb.
The album’s theme is in the title: Armand is tooling up to kill off puritans, both musical and political.