Armand Van Helden: The Sweet Life
Having spent the year comfortably cruising on the success of his Duck Sauce partnership with A-Trak – maybe you heard their little hit Barbra Streisand once or twice this year? – Armand Van Helden is living the good life. That’s made only more apparent when he got on the phone to inthemix, casually chatting about his current success as well as past glories in an always laidback and conversational tone.
Hey Armand, what’re you up to?
“I’m just chilling…there’s nothing crazy on the agenda.”
Yeah? Are you in New York?
“Yeah I’m at home in New York.”
I remember speaking to you earlier this year before Good Vibrations and you spoke about how you don’t tour as much these days, and now Australia gets you out here twice in the one year.
“Well, believe me, Australia is easily one of the top destinations for me as a DJ. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, I know it’s going to be nicer than here in New York and that crowds will be up for a good time. If it’s not the best then it’s definitely in that arena of the best places to go spin so I’m always up for it.”
As well as your festival dates in our summer you’ve also got a one-off show with A-Trak as Duck Sauce. Was it planned that you’d both be in the country together or was it just by chance that it connected like that?
“Yeah, I think it was built on that Duck Sauce show and the rest of the dates just kind’ve fell into place after that.”
Going back to your schedule, what made you decide to cut back your touring regime to where it is now?
“I guess it would’ve been around the turn of the millennium that I cut it back…2000 or so. So I kind’ve forgotten what it was once like to be on the road and out there all the time. The reasoning behind it was…well, it wasn’t money. A lot of things are motivated by concerns for money, I mean, everybody has mortgage payments they need to make…but for me, I had made money in the ‘90s and I didn’t buy anything with it. I was like ‘you know, I’m young, what’s the best thing that I could do? What’s the best thing for me on a personal level?’ And the best thing to do was whatever I wanted to do. So my mentality was ‘Okay, Armand just really wants to do nothing, go for a walk and have a cappuccino with some friends’, you know what I’m saying? That was basically my reasoning! My logic was like I could get to 50 and be this old DJ still trying to keep going every night or I could just enjoy what was happening for me and take it in my stride. It’s a balance of work and play.”
That’s interesting, I remember speaking to Steve Aoki recently and he was saying that out of a year he probably spends something like 250 days on the road playing shows.
“Yeah, but it works for him. I’m not saying that anyone should or shouldn’t follow my lead, but everybody has their own motivation for doing this. I think a lot of DJs set out and they want to achieve something, and I can see that and respect that, but I’m just not that way anymore. That’s what works for me.”
Going on that, was there a particular moment in your career where you felt that you had attained ‘sucess’? And how do you personally even measure that?
“Yeah, that’s a good question. I would say there was one time when I—I don’t know if this makes sense but it’s how I interpret it…there was this one time when I attained self-actualisation. It was in 1998, I was in Ibiza and I was with a new girlfriend at the time and she just incredible and I had a number one song in the UK with You Don’t Know Me. I was in Ibiza on the beach and the song was being played on the beach, people were freaking out, I was newly in love, everything with my family was going really well and I could feel that everything around me was…happy. I think when you get that level of success and if you disappear the next day but you’ll always be remembered…then that’s a wonderful place to be in. I always try to remember the simple moments like that and now I don’t need to go after the number one records…I like when I can get ‘em, but I don’t need them.”