RAC is the project that started when André Allen Anjos was in college back in 2007, and made it’s way on to having more than 200 remixes for all the the major artists in the indie scene. Remix Artist Collective comprises of André, Karl Kling and Andrew Maury. Although there are three people involved most of the work we see is really made by André. With a huge portfolio and an original album in the works, we took the time and did an interview with him on all things RAC.
Stream/download the interview here and read it below ///
GS: With all these remix requests and TV show productions, how does it feel like being a star?
RAC: (laughter) I would not go that far. I would definitely not say that, I mean it feels pretty good to have constant work like that, but it’s also been a culmination of 6, 7 years of doing this. To finally have some success, it feels great, but it’s something people kinda forget with musicians that this is something we’ve been working on our entire lives. Maybe to some people that start like a year ago and have some success, but I’ve been playing music since I was 11 years old. I’ve been recording since I was 14, for me it’s more like finally I can do this for a living. The success or the fame or whatever side of it, that’s not the goal, that’s not important. For me it’s more, how can I continue to keep on making music and keep on making a living doing it. That’s truly what’s important to me.
GS: Most of the work on RAC is credited to you. Apart from the Djing with Kling, do you also work together on other levels?
RAC: It’s actually kinda of a strange dynamic. In the very beginning I wanted it to be a big collaboration between a lot of people. And then as soon as we started to do that I realized that’s it’s completely impossible, to do it consistent and do it fast. A lot of these remixes require you to be able to do things in a couple of days. So just trading files back and forth just didn’t make any sense. It’s very difficult, so I ended up doing a lot of those early remixes and I had started it, it was my company. There were two other people involved at the time and their great but they had other things and it just never really worked out with the timing. But Andrew eventually joined in maybe a year later in 2008, and he was really passionate about it and he was doing his own remixes, he was trying to get his own work as well. But we collaborated in a sense of direction and ideas, it was never like “here, let me send you this synth sound”, even though I kinda wish it was. It’s just not feasible. And Karl came in a little bit later, I’ve been working with Karl since the beginning on a different project called The Pragmatic. It just worked out that people asked for me a lot, for me to do the remix and that’s the reason that I ended up doing most of them. Just because it’s fast and it’s easy and it’s consistent. The original vision never really worked out and I went along with it
GS: Now, for the production for TV shows – was it always the plan, and if not, how did that happen?
RAC: That was complete luck. I never even knew you could make money from writing for TV shows, I just assumed that there were these teams of people locked away somewhere writing just music. It was 2008, I get an email from a music supervisor. Those are the guys that pick the music for all kinds of different TV shows and they figure out the budget and all that stuff. He was the guy that was working for HBO on the show “Entourage”, which at that time was pretty popular. I didn’t really know about it, I was some college kid, I didn’t even have cable, and definitely didn’t have HBO. So I was “OK, that sounds cool” and I started doing it, and once it came out I realised what a big deal that was. I just sort of fell into it. It was not a plan at all. Now we have a good working relationship, I can do things very quickly and he needs things pretty quickly so it just kind of works out.
GS: Why, may we ask, did it take you so long to release an original work? Your remixes are great, but so is your original stuff.
RAC: I didn’t feel the need to, I was happy doing remixes, I still am. But it just got to a point where I wanted to do more of a dance thing, I wanted to do these dance singles. I just wanted to put out myself, do a really low key, nothing big. And then I reached out to Chris from Penguin Prison and he really liked the idea and we started to work on something. It just sort of turned out into this pop song, and we were “whoa! this is fun, let’s pursue this”. That’s how it started. Obviously, there’s more into it but then this whole album project came into together. I really intended to be a small thing but it’s probably the biggest thing I ever do. The pressure is on but I’m almost done with this album and I’m pretty excited.
GS: How about that new album of original material, where does it stand right now?
RAC: Right now it’s going with the legal stuff, in the middle of the label deal. And the whole album is in the same concept as “Hollywood”, I write the music and there is a different singer on every track. I ended up writing about 45 songs, they are not all good but I think that’s the best way to do an album, just write as much as possible then see whatever works. I can’t talk about the artists, I wish I could, but I can’t. It’s almost done, it’s just the legal staff, all the labels, all the managers, all the lawyers, you have to talk to 300 people and negotiate with them. It’s an ongoing process, it will definitely be out this year. We don’t have a set date, we may be doing some singles, maybe an EP before, but that’s all up in the air.
GS: Will we see another cover with your wife Liz?
RAC: Probably, we’ve been doing these for Facebook whenever we hit 20,000 or whatever, so where almost at 30,000 now, so we should really be getting something ready. There is going to be a point where we don’t have time. It’s great working with her, we obviously live together, so it’s super quick.
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GS: Who are your musical influences?
RAC: There’s a few people. Specifically with remixing there’s this Japanese artist called Cornelius, which I think I credit him with sparking this idea that remixes don’t need to be danceable. That don’t need to be something specific, that you could kinda do whatever you want. And he did these albums called CM and CM2. It’s basically these remix albums, with stuff he did for Sting and Moby, very strange artists for him to be working on. He probably just did it for money, but they are really great remixes and their interesting, it’s just him messing around with it. That kinda sparked this idea that you can kinda just do whatever. I took that idea out of my own philosophy, that I wanted to do everything for the song, I’m not trying to impose my own style, inevitably it comes out, but I really try to complement the song, it’s all about the song. If I’m not helping it in any way, or if I’m not making it remotely interesting, then what’s the point. That’s how I approach that.
GS: If you had the time to remix any song from the late 80′s or early 90′s, what would you pick?
RAC: I don’t know, I’m not sure actually. It’s kind of funny, because recently we got to remix this classic disco song from the early, mid 70′s. We got to remix this song by Sylvester “You make me feel mighty real”. It’s an official remix, it was done for the publishing company, I don’t think it’s out yet. It was really fun to mess with such a classic song. There’s people who don’t know it and that’s fine, we actually got to DJ it. With this song, it’s a very classic song and very early on when I was working on it, I was like “I can’t, I got to get over this, it’s a classic song but they want me to mess with it, so I’m just gonna make a mess with it”. I made it pretty different, so we’ll see how people react to it. It was fun to go through that process of doing the whole thing.
GS: What is it like working with Green Label? And do you have anything in particular being released there?
RAC: They were awesome. It was only a single thing, a one time thing. But it was great, they are basically indie label people that are running this thing. They have a lot of resources from the parent company Mountain Dew and Pepsi, so it’s like a corporate thing but it’s run by people that really care about the music and that’s what drew me to it. They have worked with a lot of great artists, like Chromeo, Neon Indian, Holy Ghost, Classixx. For me it was a pretty easy decision, if all those people did it I’m pretty sure I can do this. I’m okay with it. It was really cool. They don’t ask for anything in return, they just promote your stuff. They made a video, they paid for all the technical mastering and all that stuff, paid for all the remixes, so I got a great deal out of it. They helped put a lot of things on the map for us, I have zero complaints, they have been awesome.
GS: We know you’ve been on tour Djing, tell us what can people expect from a RAC show?
RAC: We’ve been Djing everywhere, so it’s a mix of all kinds of different music, some house, deep house, disco edits. It’s a mix between other people’s music and our own remixes obviously. I think we would get pretty bored if we played our own music all night long every day. We mix it out and play all of our friends stuff or just classic tracks like “Blue Monday”, and hope that people know it. We are using Ableton Live to DJ, so that opens a lot of different doors, like on the spot production things. We have a built in drum sequencer that we are constantly running and adding on top of all these tracks. There is definitely a live element. But it’s still much based on a DJ format. We’re mixing two tracks and adding drums on top, effects, glitch things. It’s a little bit more complicated then the normal two record. That’s because we didn’t started out as DJs, we started as music producers so it made sense for us to approach it that way. And have a lot of fun. So if you see us, I’ll almost likely be programming drums here and there and playing. We are in the process of developing a full live show, so we are going to have a band, and go play the album stuff live. That’s probably in the summer, most likely in the US, I hope to play in Europe.
GS: Do you have any plans for a tour in Europe?
RAC: Yeah, we’ve been working with this agent, she’s been awesome and we were there in last August, and we are planning a trip probably in the summer. I think it will still be the DJ stuff at that point. We haven’t even played in Portugal yet, that’s kind of ridiculous. We have to do that.
GS: What do you use in your remixing productions, and where do you usually start?
RAC: I use Ableton live as the main sequencer, the brain behind the whole thing, and everything else is either a real synth or guitar, bass, whatever. I don’t know if I call myself a collector, but I really love analogue synthesizers, so I have a little collection going. All the built-in sounds in Ableton are great, but I still prefer something you can touch and feel. I used to be a little snob about it for a long time, I used to think less of software, but when it comes down to it it’s all the same, and it just comes down to what you can work with and what you feel more comfortable with. That’s how I feel about it now. I ended up spending more money on analogues but for me it’s worth it, because it feels more real and it’s an interface issue, it has nothing to do with the sound. I get the files, I load them into the programs, and start listening to all the tracks. Obviously the vocal will always stay in, then I start taking out things I think I’m not going to use. Maybe I’ll keep a main hook, or some trumpet part. One thing that I really like doing is taking elements that weren’t noticeable in the original mix and bringing those forward. An example of that is the remix I did for Edward Sharpe for the song “Home”, that piano in the beginning of my remix is actually theirs, that’s played in their song, but you just don’t really hear it, I kind of brought that forward and built it off of that. That’s where I start, I pick out elements that I think I’m going to use, or not going to use, and then just start building under that. Normally I start with drums, make sure the tempo is set, i’ll loop a vocal part, and start playing synthesizers basically. It’s not that exciting, it’s pretty boring actually.
GS: So you’re now an inspiration for other music enthusiasts. Is there any advice you can give to people who want to start remixing?
RAC: Yeah, definitely do it because you like doing it. There is money in it, but that’s not… If you end up making remixes for money you’re not going to be happy doing that. I think the best advice I can give to people is “Approach it because you love music, or because you love doing it, the rest will come later”. Do it because you love it, that even comes through in the remixes. This even applies to music in general. If you’re honest about it and have fun doing it, that honesty is going to come through in your music, and it will be more authentic and more enjoyable for that.
GS: Do you think you could work with any other Portuguese producer?
RAC: Yeah, for sure. Quite honestly I’m very out of the loop in what’s actually going on there. Actually, Moulinex and Xinobi, we’re talking about creating a supergroup. I mean we’re not serious, but I thought it would be hilarious to do like an all Portuguese dance track. Those guys are amazing, I’ve been following them for a very long time. I didn’t even realise they were Portuguese, until a couple of months later. I almost did a remix for The Gift at one point, but the timing didn’t work out. I grew up watching them on TV, it would be pretty cool. There’s the guy from Loto, the Cavaliers of Fun, he’s a great dude. That’s all that comes to mind, but there has always been amazing talent there.
GS: Are you especially excited about any newcomers we might be interested in?
RAC: There’s this band called Chvrches, they have like two songs. They are phenomenal songs, I just can’t believe this band has two songs. It’s songs that people only write on their second or third album, they are really refined and done really well. And written very well, which a lot of the times people don’t have the experience to do that. They just came out of nowhere and have this amazing songs. There is this guy called Cashmere Cat, I don’t think I could pull that all in a DJ set, but it’s such cool music, it’s so weird. There’s a great track called “Mirror Maru”, it’s just phenomenal.
GS: Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
RAC: I definitely want to keep doing remixes, that’s one thing people should probably know. Even if I’m doing this original stuff, remixes are part of my DNA, so I’m not going to stop doing that, obviously. It’s a fun couple days project. I want to keep on doing things that interest me, that’s been the entire decision process. As long as it’s still interesting, I’m going to keep on doing it. It’s really hard to say, if you told me five years ago, if you asked me where I thought RAC would be, I would have been completely wrong. I’m just letting go, and see what happens. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very ambitious and have lots of plans, I don’t necessarily tell everybody. We will see if it happens or not. Hopefully in five years I’ll still be going strong and doing stuff.
GS: Since we’re a blog based in Portugal, tell us a little bit about how you came to be in the USA?
RAC: I actually never finished 12th grade in Portugal. It’s kind of a classic story. It was Math and Physics, I absolutely hated my teachers. In my last year I was like “I am not going to school any more, I don’t care, I want to do music”. So I basically dropped out of high-school, and then tried to do music for a year and a half or so. It was sort of a period of time where I was figuring out if music was something I really wanted to do full-time. I almost went to design school, as well, but that’s a whole new story. I was in this point, two years after not finishing high-school, then the opportunity came up to go to college in the US, my mom is American so I have dual citizenship, so it was pretty easy that whole process. Which I’m pretty fortunate because it’s pretty difficult sometimes for people to come study here. So I was just kind of “well you know what? I’m just gonna go for it”, and went to get a degree. It ended up being kind of worthless, though. I don’t think the degree has helped me in anything, except that I met my wife there and met a lot of great friends there, for that it was worth it, but for the classes, I don’t know. As far of the state of things in Portugal, it was like “here is my one shot, I might as well go for it”. There’s always been this romantic idea of going off to the US to become a musician, that’s something that my friends back in Portugal talked about. The US is where you really want to make it. There is sort of this naive idea that if you go to this one place that things will work out. I very quickly realised that is not the case at all, and you really have to work hard, to be able to achieve that.
GS: Do you have anything else you would like to say to the fans?
RAC: Thank you, I guess. That’s pretty true, I really wouldn’t be anywhere if people didn’t like this music. It’s the truth. I sort of came up around the same time the whole blog scene. I was a part of that, so I owe a lot of my career to that, the blogs, just people sharing music freely. Thank you.
RAC – Chapter One – buy on iTunes ///