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Jimmy Van M interview: A Legend on Balance

Author: Terry Goldfain
Friday, October 13, 2006
Many in the international dance community would consider Jimmy Van M a 'living legend' of the scene. However, until the release this month of the tenth installment in EQ's acclaimed series, 'Balance' he was perhaps the least known living legend in club land. Despite the lack of publicity in recent times, after a career spanning more than fifteen years, this Dutch born, Florida bred and Barcelona based DJ and producer has a number of notches on his figurative belt. These include forming The Collective Agency (promotion company who's roster includes Sasha, John Digweed, and James Zabiela when they play in the U.S.), Twilo resident from1996 to 2000 and events ranging from The Northern Exposure American Tour of 1996 to playing in front of 25,000 people on New Years Eve of the Millennium in Melbourne.

So now that we've established his credentials lets set about destroying some myths. It's a commonly held belief that Jimmy Van M's career really began when superstar duo Sasha and Digweed chose him to open their legendary Twilo residency in New York. While it is true that he played there and opened for them, this revisionist history neglects to mention that he chose them and it was he who set up their Twilo residency. In fact, many would credit Jimmy Van M with much more than a support cast role, but in fact, as being instrumental in the development of Sasha and Digger's sound.

In 1994, a little know British DJ named Sasha visited America for the first time and, with no place to stay, he landed himself at the Van M residence. Soon followed by John Digweed they found themselves thrust into the DJ version of 24 Hour Party People. "Well Sasha needed a place to stay one night and during our conversations we found we had very similar taste and views on music and basically just got along really well," recounts Jimmy Van M in auto-pilot mode, as you'd expect from someone who has told the story as often as he must have.

While lots of friendships have formed in a similar vein, this was to turn into a business alliance to stand the ages. "Well first there was Eros Euphony", begins Jimmy Van M, "which was a production alias for myself and studio partner Sean Cusick, and also, along with promoter Bevin O'Neill, a promotion agency." The promotional arm was later changed to Balance Promote Group and Chris Fortier became a part of it. With fellow Floridian Fortier, Balance became one of the most successful booking agencies in U.S.A. "The promotion part of Balance came together during an after party around '95 when I used my experience working for a travel agency to book gigs in other states for John and Sasha."

From his development of the booking agency 'Balance' (now known as TCA), to his pivotal role in the formation of the phenomenally successful Delta Heavy tour of the U.S., Jimmy Van M played a key role in not only introducing U.K. dance music to the States, but ensuring its popularity once there. Yet his profile will never reach the magnitude of many who have contributed far less, perhaps the inevitable result of his servitude to dance music rather than it being a quest for personal glory. "It's been around five years since I last put out a compilation," he admits, talking of his contribution to Digweed's Bedrock label. "And I've only recently gotten back into Djing. I couldn't think of a better brand to re-launch myself on than Balance. So we approached Tom [Pandzic, EQ label boss and Balance instigator]"

Wait a minute! So it was actually a case of you approaching the label not visa versa- Other than stating this to be true, Jimmy Van M does not attempt to rationalise why he went against music industry etiquette to initiate proceedings, merely shrugs it off seemingly unconcerned by my surprise. "A lot of things just happen naturally," he finally adds. "I'm the kind of person to go with my instincts. All the pr