RAC is Remix Artist Collective, a group that started remixing tracks from hundred of artists, and has seen huge success reworking tracks from artists such as U2 and Lana Del Rey. Now RAC has become the moniker of Andre Allen Anjos, who has been incredibly busy these last few years building up the RAC name while still finding time to work on TV shows such as Entourage and producing albums for Ra Ra Riot, Tegan & Sara, and more. Recently he put out “Hollywood,” an original track featuring Penguing Prison that is just a teaser for what’s to come in an album full of original tracks. We got the chance to talk with Andre about how he got his start, his experience playing Snowball last year, and where he sees RAC in the future. Don’t miss RAC‘s set this Friday 3/8 at Snowball Music Festival, playing at 4:30 in the Groove Tent.
The Dankles: We’ll start off with the basics; name, age, hometown?
RAC: My name is Andre Allen Anjos, I am 28 years old and I was born in a town near Porto, Portugal.
TD: How did growing up there affect your musical tastes and style?
RAC: It had a pretty big impact- I didn’t grow up in the US so I can’t say for sure how things would’ve been different. The US was a lot more rock-oriented with bands and guitar, but in Europe it focused on electronic music and that’s the kind of stuff I was growing up with. I didn’t necessarily like it, but it was definitely present. I was listening more to metal bands and I really wasn’t into electronic music at all but I think a lot of that stuff later in life came back to me.
TD: You’ve remixed a huge variety of artists, what is your process for selection for a song to remix?
RAC: It’s gone through different phases I guess. In the beginning I barely had a name for myself so I was e-mailing people “hey can i please do a remix, I really want to do this” and I went through a lot of that for a year or so and eventually things just kind of caught on. Suddenly I had remixes for The Shins and Bloc Party, CSS, and all these other bands that blew up.
TD: Your first release was “Sleeping Lessons” that made it on the B-side for the single, that was you just e-mailing management?
RAC: Yeah they were the first band that ever gave me a shot. They had a phone number on their website so I just called up the manager thinking I have nothing to lose and I said “hey I’d really like to remix one of the songs on your new album” and at that time the album had leaked so I had heard it (I didn’t tell him that). He thought it was a cool idea and said he’d talk to the band. A few weeks went by and then one day he calls and I think that just worked out because I was the only one that had asked.
TD: What are your main sources for finding new music?
RAC: For a very long time it used to be HypeMachine and and other blogs, and that’s really how I got my start. Those still play a huge role but more recently I’ve been using twitter and social media to find out about new bands.
TD: Are there any artists you won’t touch?
RAC: You know, I’m always up for the challenge and I don’t think there’s anything I’d stay away from. The worst thing that can happen to a remix is that it just goes unnoticed so it doesn’t hurt to try. I’ve done a couple covers- some people liked them and some people got mad, asking why I would touch that song and I’m just like, why not?
TD: What’s it like working with your wife on songs like those covers?
RAC: It’s a lot of fun, it’s really easy. We don’t have to plan out a schedule, it’s just something we do for fun when we have free time.
TD: Could you pick a favorite out of all the remixes that you’ve done?
RAC: The truth is there’s a lot of them for different reasons. The Shins remix I especially appreciate- not musically necessarily, but had I not done that remix things would have gone differently, so there’s a sentimental value there. That’s really how I attach to songs.
TD: What are your plans for more original releases like your song with Penguin Prison?
RAC: I have an album almost finished, and it’s definitely coming out this year, it’s just going through the label process right now.
TD: That’s probably different than how you’re usually used to releasing things, yeah?
RAC: Definitely, this has been like a nine-month process- there’s been lawyers!- but it’s all coming together now which is really exciting. It’s the same concept as “Hollywood” where I write the actual music and then feature a variety of artists. I’d love to talk about who but legal stuff prevents me, but it’s all recorded and everything’s practically done. It’s a lot of the artists I’ve already remixed and then some that I haven’t- but those will be a surprise. I wrote up to around 45 songs now but I have to slim that down for the album so expect a lot of EP’s and bonus tracks.
TD: At what age did you start making music?
RAC: I started taking piano lessons when I was like six years old and I hated it, I never practiced and even to this day I can’t read sheet music. Then when I was 11 or 12 my parents got me a guitar which was awesome because now I could play Nirvana and I started getting into basic recording a few years after that.
TD: How has your recording process changed to now when you do your remixes?
RAC: It’s definitely come a long way, at this point I’m using Ableton Live as my go-to but I don’t really use the built-in sounds, I’m playing guitar and bass and using physical gear. Software has definitely come a long way but I miss the older style of musical instruments.
TD: How do you feel about returning to the mountains for Snowball Music Festival and what was your experience the first year you played it?
RAC: I can’t wait. Last year was awesome, we got there the first night to play one of the after parties and our shuttle got delayed for hours so we ended up getting a ride with some friends and got to catch up which was cool. When I got to the after party my computer completely crashed and it almost blew up- it was a disaster! The first few hours of being in Vail were definitely frustrating but then after that it ended up being an amazing festival. Everyone was in the dance tent while I was playing because it was so cold and it was cool playing on the stage leading up to Porter Robinson because he’s blown up so much.
TD: When you play festivals like this do you hang out with artists that you’ve remixed and what is that like?
RAC: It’s really cool. Eventually a lot of us meet, especially because there’s a group of people that play the same festivals that you get to know from playing with them. So there’s usually people we know and hang out with and it’s not exciting at all [laughs], it’s just like normal people hanging out.
TD: You’ve lived in and played in all parts of the world, where has been your favorite to play?
RAC: I really like playing South America because people just go crazy there and it’s a whole different environment. I remember this one night playing a show there until six in the morning and we got back and went to the beach and had breakfast. It’s the moments like that are what’s awesome for us. But there’s many times when we’re in South America and we want to be back in to the US music scene because they’re just very different. There’s New York and Austin for SXSW (which is amazing), and then I’ve played places like the Larimer Lounge in Denver and that place is awesome.
TD: When you’re traveling the world all the time, what are the essentials that you can’t leave behind?
RAC: Haha this is going to be really boring but I can’t go anywhere without earplugs because I can’t sleep on planes without them. Also this is kind of weird but I travel with a dryer sheet because I hate the smell of smoke and it gets stuck in your clothes after you leave clubs, so the dryer sheets absorb a lot of that smell when I’m traveling.
TD: This past year has seen some amazing releases in every genre, what have you been listening to recently?
RAC: Actually it’s this band CHVRCHES, they don’t have an album yet but they have two songs released and they’re both phenomenal. Tame Imapa’s Lonerism is definitely one of my favorite albums of the year, and then there’s people like Cashmere Cat (a Dankles favorite) and Jessie Ware that I’m really into.
TD: Where do you see RAC five years from now?
RAC: I’m really hoping this original stuff takes off because that’s what I’ve always wanted to make. I didn’t see it as RAC, but it’s been over six years now making it under that, and really it’s just a name.
TD: Well thank you for taking the time to talk with us and we can’t wait to see you in our home state of Colorado this weekend!