Few dance producers in any style have had the changeability and staying power of Armand Van Helden. Born in 1970, Van Helden grew up primarily in Europe, then hit the states to attend university. Soon he was playing clubs in Boston – and throughout the early ‘90s, shopping demos to New York City house labels such as AV8, Henry Street, Nervous, and Strictly Rhythm, under monikers like Deep Creed, Circle Children, and Banji Boys, as well as his birth name. Van Helden’s production career gained traction after moving to NYC mid-decade, with club hits such as “Witch Doktor” (1994) and “The Funk Phenomena” (1996) burning up floors from Manhattan to Mainhattan.
But many of Van Helden’s biggest tracks in this period were remixes for other artists ranging from Ace of Base’s “Living in Danger” (1994) to Genaside II’s “Narra Mine” (1997). Three in particular from 1996 altered the landscape: CJ Bolland’s “Sugar Is Sweeter,” Tori Amos’s “Professional Widow,” and Sneaker Pimps’ “Spin Spin Sugar” upended house music’s steady-state pulse in favor of ruder rhythmic upsets, particularly their drum & bass-sourced, thumping-upside-your-cranium bass lines.