Q&A with Artist + Producer, André Allen Anjos -The Man Behind RAC (Remix Artist Collective) Who Has Remixed For: Lana Del Rey, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Phoenix, Releases Debut Album.
Posted On 04 Dec 2014
Tag: Alex Ebert, All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, Amtrac, André Allen Anjos, Bloc Party, Boston, Cheap Sunglasses, Cheap Sunglasses Remixes EP, Cherrytree Records, CHICAGO, Dave Aude, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes, Electric Forest, Golden Globe, Hollywood, Hype Machine, Karl Kling, Katie Herzig, Kele, Lana Del Rey, Le Youth, Let Go, Los Angeles, Matthew Koma, Michael Dwyer, MNDR, New York City, Nicole DeRosa, Oregon, Orgeon, Paul Simon, Penguin Prison, Pink Feathers, Portland, Portugal, RAC, RaRa Riot, San Francisco, Seattle, ShadowLuxx, Soundcloud, SPEAK, Still Crazy After All These Years, Strangers, Tegan & Sara, The Knocks, Tokyo Police Club, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Acclaimed artist/producer RAC (aka André Allen Anjos) is the mastermind behind some of the most memorable remixes of recent years. RAC (Remix Artist Collective) has given the world new takes on tracks by Kings of Leon, Lana Del Rey, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, Death Cab For Cutie, Phoenix, Surfer Blood, Foster The People, and Bloc Party‘s Kele.
RAC’s remixes have reached #1 on the Hype Machine charts 32 times and his first solo recording, “Hollywood,” featuring Penguin Prison hit #1 on all four Hype Machine charts at once while his tracks have over 55 million plays on his Soundcloud, which you can check out HERE .
Originally born and raised in Portugal, RAC settled in Portland, Oregon, where he began to forge his unique brand of indie-pop culminating with the release of his debut album Strangers (Cherrytree Records)
André co-wrote and produced every song on Strangers, which features an impressive array of guests including, Alex Ebert (of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros) Tegan & Sara, Penguin Prison, Tokyo Police Club, Cherrytree recording artist Matthew Koma, Katie Herzig, along with Bloc Party’s Kele and electro-pop artist MNDR.
RAC just wrapped up a full run of headlining live tour dates in Boston, making stops in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and more before wrapping up in San Francisco. The tour featured live vocals from frequent RAC collaborators Karl Kling, Pink Feathers and Speak along with brand new visuals. The tour featured special guests, NYC electronic duo, The Knocks and Penguin Prison.
RAC also released the Cheap Sunglasses Remixes EP in September, featuring remixes from artists including, Amtrac, Dave Aude, Le Youth, ShadowLuxx and more.
To commemorate the tour, RAC and The Knocks remixed each other’s latest singles. Check out The Knocks remix of “Cheap Sunglasses” HERE and RAC’s remix of The Knocks hit “Classic” HERE.
RAC recently released the video for his latest single “Cheap Sunglasses” FT. Matthew Koma. The video reteams RAC with director/producer Michael Dwyer who also shot and produced RAC’s video for his first single “Let Go”. Shot in Southern California, “Cheap Sunglasses” is the first RAC video to feature his full touring band and featured vocalist Matthew Koma who along with RAC co-wrote the song which hit the #1 top spot on Hype Machine earlier this summer.
Hi Andre! How are you? Where does this interview find you and what else is on the agenda today, besides our interview?
Hi! Thanks for having me. I’m actually taking off for Philadelphia tomorrow to meet my in laws for Thanksgiving. I’m pretty relaxed, mostly just packing and getting ready for the trip.
RAC is the solo indie-electronic project that you started in 2007 with partners, Andrew Maury and Karl Kling, as a group of international members who created re-interpretative rock, electronica, and dance remixes for various musical artists. How did this come into fruition and what made you want to form the collective?
I technically started it on my own in late 2006. It didn’t really come together until January 20th, 2007 and that was when I got my first remix job for The Shins. Early on it was just me who started it and the I had a couple of friends like Krookrum from the Netherlands and another friend, Aaron Jazinski from Seattle…who were people I knew online that I kinda asked them to join early on, but they never really did. (laughs) They both did a total of one remix each.
It was always my project. Andrew came in a year later. I think he had just worked with RaRa Riot, which I worked with as well. Andrew technically joined the band as a member in 2008. Karl Kling didn’t join until a bit later, until about 2010 where he joined primarily as a live touring member. We had spent many years DJing together, so when an opportunity came up for RAC to DJ, it just kinda made sense for him to come along and it’s kinda fun to have a friend come along on the road. That’s sort of how it came together. I was a sophomore in college and I was really just trying to break my way into the industry and I had some luck very early on.
How has RAC expanded over the years since its inception?
Even from the very beginning, it’s gone off path. This year in fact, I called it a collective. And just like the early days, it was kinda like wishful thinking. I wanted it to be a collective and that never really panned out. You can argue that there is other people involved and there always will be because I’m not a singer.
“After a certain point, I wanted to be more honest about what was going on which was…I was doing 95% of the work. I mean, a lot has happened, starting with the remixes, tv, film, now original material, Djing, playing live music. I’m doing video games now…it’s turning into more of a brand and more like an outlet for all these different interests that I have, musical or something else.”
You released RAC’s debut studio album as your solo project, Stangers (via Cherrytree Records) in April of this year. How does it feel to finally have your debut album out? It’s been a long time coming!
It feels great! It’s been a long time coming. I mean, I worked on this for almost 3 years…and yeah, it was a difficult process. It took a long time to get everybody involved to not only do it, but from a legal perspective it’s kind of a nightmare. (laughs) and yeah, I feel really great about the album. I’m really proud of it. I really wanted to do an album, because that’s what I grew up on and it was such an important part of my life when I was growing up. I would listen to it from the beginning to end and that whole cohesiveness was very important to me and I spent a lot of time working on that.
I understand you co-wrote and produced every song on Strangers, which also features an impressive array of guests including, Alex Ebert (of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros), Tegan & Sara, Penguin Prison, Tokyo Police Club, Matthew Korma, Katie Herzig, and Kele from Bloc Party as well as electro pop artist, MNDR. How did you work with all these artists? Did they come to your studio or did you send things back and forth? What was the recording process like?
The way it works is, primarily it’s done through the internet. I think all but one track, which my wife sang on (laughs) and even then, she recorded her own part so it wasn’t really collaborative in the studio at all. It was all done through the internet. In fact, it informed the name of the album. It’s called, Strangers because I haven’t met most of these people. It was an interesting process. It wasn’t foreign to me or news to me working with remixes and whatnot, but it was unique compared to a lot of other stuff. I think a lot of people are doing it this way now.
“The thought process was…these are busy people, ya know? They’re on tour and they have their own schedule. So, trying to fly them out to my studio to work on something and hope we write something good, is kind of..I dunno..it’s kind of crazy actually.” (laughs)
I mean sometimes, being in the same place totally helps and I see that, but I felt that it was more beneficial to let the artist take their time and do something on their own time when they felt inspired and also pick the song that they feel the most inspired by. Inspiration is not this magical thing that pops up. You have to work on it quite a bit. That was important to me. I feel really good about all the vocals I got and I feel like they were a result of just a little more time, a little more work then we would have gotten if we worked in the studio together.
RAC released the Cheap Sunglasses Remixes EP in September featuring remixes from artists including, Amtrac, Dave Aude, Le Youth, and ShadowLuxx. Your latest single, “Cheap Sunglasses,” features vocalist, Matthew Koma (who also co-wrote) with you has hit the #1 spot on Hype Machine earlier this summer. What was it like working with Matthew on that track?
Matt actually came into the process pretty late. I was definitely aware of him and his work. I really liked it and we were on the same label. I can’t recall if there was anybody that made a move first, but basically we found ourselves working together on this track and it came together kinda late in the album process. It’s part of the reason why it’s the last track on the album…just because it was the last one that I wrote. (laughs) It was a demo that I had written, probably like in 2011, something like that…I had tried all these other different singers and nothing was really clicking.
People had tried some good stuff and there was some cool ideas there, but it really didn’t work as a full song. Matt kinda just came in, and I think he sent me the chorus first and he nailed it and from there, we worked a little bit backwards. It was cool. He’s a true professional and he knows exactly what he’s doing. We’ve since hung out a lot and we realized we come from a lot of the same background, musically. We’re a big fan of songs and songwriting and the craft. I think that kinda came through in the song, so I’m very happy with that.
RAC has remixed notable artists such as Kings of Leon, Lana Del Rey, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Edward Sharpe, Death Cab For Cutie, Phoenix, Surfer Blood, Foster The People, and Bloc Party’s Kele among many others. Who would you love to remix or collaborate with next?
This question comes up a lot and the honest truth is, I don’t know. (laughs) I think I’m leaning towards more newer artists. Somebody that is kinda fresh and doing something different. There is obviously some big benefits working with bigger artists, but on the other hand, there is something kind of fun and loose about working with someone that has a lot to prove or that hasn’t proven themselves yet. I feel like there is more drive there. So, to not answer your question (laughs) I don’t know….it’s an ongoing list and an ever changing list. I don’t know if I really want to give anything away. (laughs)
André, I understand you are originally from Porto, Portugal and now reside in the United States. How was your transition moving stateside? How did growing up in Portugal influence your style? What was the music scene like there?
I moved to the United States, when I was 20 back in 2005. I had actually lived in the US, when I was young. I moved to the states in 1993 or 1994 with my parents who lived here for a little bit already. So I had already spent some time here. My mom is American, speaks English and I grew up in an American household even if I was in a different country. With that said, the influence of Portueguese culture is very apparent to me, especially musically. Dance music was such a popular thing and now sure, in the US, people kinda take it for granted, because it’s so ubiquitous. It had been so big for so long in Portugal, that it was so mainstream, that I actually didn’t like it at all and I rebelled against that and I played in metal bands and all kinds of more aggressive music. If I did play dance music, it was all harsh drum and bass (laughs) or something like that. It was never, feet on the floor disco. (laughs)
It wasn’t until I started DJing that I grew an appreciation for it because since we were getting booked for all these gigs, I sort of had to get into more of that music. I would hear it every night and hear what other people were playing. I really kinda got into it after the fact. I think Portugal had a profound impact on that.
You are just wrapping up your RAC, Something Classic Tour with The Knocks. What was the highlight of the tour?
I just finished the tour, so I’m enjoying the time off, but the tour was amazing. It was the best tour we had so far. It was kind of a culmination of a lot of things…it was us finally playing together as a band for a year and getting used to each other in that way. It was also us getting used to performing. It was a learning process. You’re not born knowing what to do and there are a lot of things that you just gotta learn by trial in front of an audience and be ok with messing up every once in a while…just down to how you’re moving on stage or creating an interesting moment, not just musically, but visually, like interacting with each other on stage. That kinda thing just comes with time. That is something that I felt really good about on this tour. It was just a lot of fun!
“It was also the first time we did live vocals, so that was an eye opener for me. I mean, I think when someone has people looking at you, even if its…obviously it’s not the original artist in every city…I mean, we can’t exactly bring Lana Del Rey on tour, but you know, having somebody else to watch and interact with is pretty powerful and that was pretty apparent on this tour.”
Who is currently on your playlist? Who are you inspired by?
Ya know, just today I was listening to Paul Simon and the great record, “Still Crazy After All These Years.” It’s not my favorite Paul Simon record, but its one that I’ve been listening to a lot lately. Its pretty moody and it’s been kinda rainy here in Portland, so it’s kinda fitting. (laughs)
What’s on tap next for you? What are you most excited about for this year?
For this year, I’m kind of taking it easy for the rest of the year. I have a couple of remixes lined up and just gearing up for a little break and then hitting it hard next year with more touring and more music. I’m actually just looking forward to working on music because after being on tour for awhile, it’s been like a month and a half, that I haven’t really been able to write and record, which is my true passion. So yeah, that’s kinda what I have going on. (laughs)
Thank you so much again, Nicole. I appreciate you taking the time and thanks to All Access Music for having me!
For more about RAC, please visit the website HERE .