Though it might be easy to grow accustomed to the musty smell emanating
from the list of Grammy nominations each year, remix master Armand Van
Helden sensed something good was going to come with this year's slate.
"I'm not shocked because I saw it coming," Van Helden, 27, said by phone
from New York. In Van Helden's eyes, the nominating committee at the
National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences had no choice but to
recognize trend-setting bands such as Prodigy who, along with the Chemical
Brothers, were nominated for Best Alternative Music Performance.
Sure, mainstays such as Elton John, Aerosmith and Fleetwood Mac appeared on
the typically conservative list of potential winners - but so did
groundbreaking electronica acts such as Prodigy, the Chemical Brothers and
Daft Punk. Sneaker Pimps remixer Van Helden, himself one of five artists
nominated in the new Remixer of the Year category, represents the more
forward-looking nature of this year's awards.
"The thing about it is, it's what was going to happen regardless -- the
kids out there determine what's happening," he said. "It just
happens to be that Bon Jovi doesn't sell like it used to -- but Prodigy
sure the fuck does."
But what does this acknowledgment of music outside the pop/commercial vein
"If anything, it's letting people know that shit is changing, and you
either fucking get on while you can or get left behind," he said. "That's
what the Chemical Brothers and the Prodigy are telling people."
Van Helden -- who was nominated for his work remixing Sneaker Pimps and the
Rolling Stones, among others -- said he doesn't measure his own worth by
awards such as the Grammys. Nonetheless, he said he's glad that his craft
is being recognized by the rest of the music industry.
"It's about time that 'remix' - the word, the category -- is getting
recognized," Van Helden said. "If anything, it's giving more power to us
to be more creative.
"Now that there's a remix category, people can be taken more seriously," he
added. "The remixers can be open to do more experimental things, instead of
[thinking], 'Oh, I have to please the label people, I have to please the
band.' Now remixers can be hired, and [label executives] go, 'We're hiring
you to do what you do.' " [Mon., Feb. 9, 1998, 9 a.m.