Armand Van Helden on DJ culture in 2017: “They don’t have to do much up there”
Almost every DJ today has abandoned the practice of swapping out vinyls while live mixing — with a few exceptions such as The Avalanches and Keys N Krates. In a recent interview with Inthemix, Armand Van Helden gives his brutally honest opinion in response to a question of the feel of the ’90s rave scene in comparison to today.
“For most of the ‘90s, I was a traveling DJ with vinyl in heavy record cases. You didn’t move, you often didn’t look up at the crowd. You would show up to a gig and the guy before you was in full trance-out mode or playing trip-hop. In the moment you had to improvise and come up with a set, it’s a totally different thing to the way DJs are now. It’s all a no-brainer. They don’t have to think about much up there – as long as they don’t fall and twist an ankle while they’re jumping around.”
Van Helden goes on to explain that the small amount of footage we have of DJs in the ’90s exists because most of the time was spent knee deep digging through records with little connection to the crowd at all. He reveals that live performances were often very stressful. He blames the shift in technology when computers arrived would give DJs more freedom “to goof off” behind the decks.
“He was from that generation, so he was about putting on a show. He was about stage antics and going over the top. It was a brand new thing for me, because it isn’t my personality. But I get it. You can stand there and spin your records and people will still like it, but you can also take it one level higher and really go in. Bring in crazy lights, pyrotechnics, dancers, you name it – put on a whole circus act.”
Armand Van Helden will preform alongside the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra this January 2018. Armand Van Helden and MSO’s 70-piece orchestra will breathe new life into his long list of house anthems, including the likes of “U Don’t Know Me,” “My My My,” “Bonkers” (feat. Dizzee Rascal), “I Want Your Soul,” his legendary remix of Tori Amos’ “Professional Widow,” and certified bangers as part of Duck Sauce including “Barbra Streisand.” This is not even touching on the dozen odd underground club anthems that Armand has to his name. Undoubtably, it will be an unforgettable experience.