Last week we had the privilege of talking with André Allen Anjos, one third of the Remix Artist Collective (or RAC). With his Collective partners, Andrew Maury and Karl Kling, what began as a simple remix project, has blossomed into something that now garners work for the likes of Lana Del Ray, Temper Trap, Phoenix, and even Katy Perry! Andre gives us a little information about the creation of RAC, the members involved, and their creative process. We also talk about his individual efforts and the shift he’s taken from remixes to originals, as well as his highly anticipated original album coming out in the fall.
Now let me just start by saying – this interview was a lot of fun, especially for me because I am a huge fan of all of RAC’s remixes. So sit back and get to know Andre and RAC, and everything in between. And if you haven’t heard any of their stuff yet, I’ve included some of my favorites from the group throughout this piece.
So first off, thanks for taking the time to talk with us, we really appreciate it. Can you give us a little background info on yourself and the group for our readers who might not know RAC?
It’s kind of a long story, but I’ll keep it short. Basically I am Portugese, born and raised there. I moved to the US to kind of “make it” as a musician I guess. Did that whole college thing, and while I was in college I started this remix group called RAC and that’s sort of what I’ve been doing ever sense. Obviously that’s a really short version of it, but yea we’ve just been doing a lot of remixes.
Lana Del Rey – Blue Jeans (RAC Mix) by RAC
How did you all get together, and who are all the “members” of this collective?
I started it in 2007, and the other two guys kind of joined in a little bit later. So Andrew Maury is one of the dudes. It was probably like 2008 or something and I met him online, of course, and he was really into the project and the idea and just really enthusiastic about it. So he joined in around that time. Throughout this whole process, even before in college with a good college buddy of mine Karl, we were roommates in fact, we played in bands together, recorded together, toured together, you know did all this stuff. So when we started touring with RAC in like 2009 and doing DJ gigs that’s when he kind of joined in officially although he was already an honorary member. So yeah that’s kind of the crew right there.
So when you’re creating one of your remixes, do you all work on it together at the same time? Or do you have separate projects?
The original idea was to have everyone collaborate on stuff. Within the first two remix jobs that we got, it was pretty clear that that wasn’t feasible. In terms of you know deadlines and all that stuff. To try to bounce ideas off of three people, like musical ideas, recording and all that stuff, it just wasn’t working. So it kind of shifted to being an individual thing, so like I’ll do a remix and pass it on to them and get their input. So it’s really on an ideas level, a collaboration in that sense.
How do you go about choosing a song to re-work? Do the artists come to you, or do you hear a song and just think – “damn I could make a killer remix of this”?
MNDR – Feed Me Diamonds (RAC Mix) by RAC
You know its gone through different phases. In the very early days it was a lot of me just annoying people, calling people, I wouldn’t say begging, but you know, kind of. I was really just trying to get people to let me do remixes. At that time I was happy to do stuff for free, but there is a certain exchange. And like you get hired to do these things. It’s just a hard proposition to bring up to a bands and be like; “you know hey, I really like your song you want to pay me to remix it?” It’s just kind of a weird thing to bring up to people. But you know it kind of got past a certain point, and now most of the remixes, pretty much all of them, are a request by the artist themself or their labels. We’ve been doing this since 2007 so we have kind of cultivated relationships with a lot of different people. So most of it is like- “hey we got this new single, we need a remix, do you want to do it?”. So that’s kind of where it is at this point.
Who are some artists out there right now that you’d really like to work with – either on an original or remix?
Backtracking a little bit, it’s not unheard of me to still reach out to people if I really like a song or something like that. It just tends to be more requests at this point. But to answer your question, I’m hoping it will probably happen, but there is this band called Churches, which I really like. I just finished a remix for this british act called BΔSTILLE, and it’s pretty awesome stuff. I’ve kind of been listening to a lot of old music recently, a lot of Sting, I am a little out of the loop actually with more recent releases. But you know there are still a couple groups like the new Vampire Weekend album, or obvious stuff like The Strokes or do another one with Phoenix. There’s no shortage of music to work on.
Despite being called the Remix Artist Collective, you’ve recently started working on original recordings like Hollywood with Penguin Prison. Is it just you working on these or do the other two lend a hand?
The original stuff is actually all me. So in a sense it’s kind of a solo thing. I will say that Karl has participated in it musically and Andrew is actually mixing it. So I guess it is kind of a group effort, but I’m actually the only writing it.
RAC – “Hollywood (featuring Penguin Prison)” by Green Label Sound
We here at PB&J are extremely excited about your debut EP of original music via Cherrytree Records. How has working with the label been?
Yea totally, it’s been awesome working with them, I mean we’re just getting started. But Cherrytree is actually a label I’ve worked with before, back in 2007 or something like that. So I feel like, you know, I already had a working relationship with them and I was always really happy with doing stuff with them. Like I got to do stuff for Ellie Goulding, Lady Gaga, like all this stuff with them. So we kind of knew each other. More recently, since I’ve moved into the original world, it’s still a really new thing but you know I am really happy working with them. And it’s a really perfect fit for the kind of stuff that’s coming.
Could you tell us a little about the upcoming EP? Any collaborations we should know about?
The EP is a collection of a couple of the album tracks that we want to put out, hopefully in June. I don’t know if we have a final release date or anything like that, but that is the goal right now. But yeah, it’s the same concept as the Hollywood track, like I write the music and have a guest vocalist on it. It’s exciting, I’ve been working on this for a while.
Yeah I am very excited myself. Have you always wanted to make original music? Was that always what the end goal you guys had in mind?
It really wasn’t and it only happened more recently. You know the other thing is, I’ve always been in bands for a long time, and some of it just never worked out. The RAC thing has been really consistent, so it got to a point where I thought, “maybe I should just try something on my own and see what happens”. And we had an amazing reaction to the Hollywood song, so now I’ve just been working on this album for a really long time now. I don’t know if I ever had a specific moment where anything changed, I was kind of just like this is fun, I’m going to keep putting originals out.
Foster The People – Houdini (RAC Mix) by RAC
I have to say; I was fortunate enough to catch your DJ set in New Orleans at Buku and it was the highlight of my weekend seeing you two spin with a mere 20 people watching. Who was that Karl or Andrew with you? Is that who always does the DJ sets?
That was Karl. Andrew, the other guy, doesn’t do the touring thing. He is pretty much a studio guy. I mean, he tours with other bands and stuff like that, but not with the DJ stuff. And I am glad you enjoyed it. That was a particularly long day for us. We almost got stuck in Denver with a snowstorm and it was kind of a giant mess.
You were all over Austin during SXSW, how was that experience? Was it your first time there, or had you been to through that stuff before?
Well this was actually our 3rd time as RAC, and 4th time overall. So we kinda knew what we were getting into. And we played like six shows, which I think was a good number, because then the shows tend to be pretty good. The first year we did it, we played something like 12 shows in 7 days, so some of them really weren’t worth it. So this year we kept it a little smaller, and went all out with them. So it was easier on us, and more fun for the crowd. We aren’t dead tired in front of everyone.
So what’s next for RAC after the album and the EP release? Where do you see this project going?
Yea I mean, my mind right now is totally on the original stuff and getting this album finished. But I’m still doing remixes obviously, and that’s never going to stop, I mean hopefully. We’re also preparing a live show for the album, which is something we’re excited about. We’ll probably start touring that around the same time the album comes out, so hopefully the fall. The DJ thing is really fun, and I enjoy it, especially because it’s relatively easy to travel. But you know I grew up playing in bands and stuff, so there is something about live music that I really miss. All the material for the album, it’s not necessarily dance material. I mean there are some elements like that, but it’s not like super DJ friendly. So it just made sense to kind of try and do a live show and bring some of those elements back. So that’s really exciting, and I’m working hard on that.
Yea man, I love that idea.
Alright I do have some fun questions to ask:
Most played song in your iTunes library?
Well let me look, I’m gonna look at Spotify because that’s where I do most of my listening. Well I’ve been listening to a lot of older stuff. So we got Fleetwood Mac and Paul Simon. Delicate Steve, in the past few weeks I’ve been really into Delicate Steve. I saw him in Austin, an absolutely amazing guitar player. And I’ve been playing guitar for a long time, and I knew I could play the guitar reasonably. Until I saw this guy, and I realized I have no skills what so ever. They’re an amazing band; you should definitely look them up.
Dream venue or festival to play at?
I mean Coachella is a pretty easy answer. There’s a lot of European festivals, like Primevera I would love to play at. And you know I love to play at festivals, they’re always kind of shorter sets, so you kind of go in, play the hits, and leave. So it’s not the same thing to playing in a club and a 2 hour set where you get to build something. But it has its own vibe.
When you’re together who does the driving?
It depends on who owns the car. But honestly, most of the time its’ me. Because I usually rent the car when we drive. We end up being kind of cheap!