Late last year HBF’s Charlotte Lucy Cijffers sat down for a chat with André Allen Anjos – better known as RAC (Remix Artist Collective) – in London to pick his brains about his forthcoming debut artist album, RAC’s new live show, and how RAC selects which artists to remix.
Charlotte: Hey RAC! We’re buzzing at the news that you’re set to release a new album of original material, can you tell us a little about what to expect?
André: Well, it’s something I’ve been working on for a long time, for the better part of three years. It was always something I knew I wanted to do but I was waiting for the right time. I’ve been doing remixes for seven years and now felt like the time to do something original. Musically, it took a long time to develop something that was fully my own and set it apart from the remix element of what I do.
Charlottte: You’ve beat me to the punch! I wanted to ask you why you’ve chosen now to release original material after so long in the game? What do you want to show your fans that they haven’t already heard before?
André: When you do remixes you’re inevitably tied down. I wanted to have a blank canvas, to start from scratch. To do whatever I wanted. When I first started writing it was with the goal of writing dance music. But once I started, it wasn’t really dance music. It was more a mid tempo pop kind of feel. But we DJ, so that was kind of the problem… I’m writing music that we can’t play in a set? So that triggered a shift from the DJ side of things to moving towards a live band, which is what the album is about.
Charlotte: That sounds fantastic! We’ve heard you’re doing a live show, just how live are we talking? Band? Visuals?
André: We tried it out in the US and did a tour. It’s a full band and it’s live and I’m playing the guitar. We’ve got bass, drums, keys the whole thing. The visuals are a very big part of it and we’ve worked extremely hard. In the centre of the stage we’ve got a eight foot high visual element which we send an audio signal to and it reacts in real time. It reacts with the vocal, its intuitive and people have had an incredible reaction to it. It’s an extremely important part of the show, it replaces our front man in a way. We’re in the process of booking Europe now and we’re just going to keep going!
Charlotte: I know this might be a tried and tested question but I wanted to ask you anyway. I know you’re not originally from the states although you have spent most of your music making years there – What are you’re feelings about the impact of the EDM movement and the introduction of ‘rave’ culture to the United States?
André: It’s been very strange. I grew up in Portugal and when I was growing up electronic music was the mainstream. And strangely enough I wasn’t in to it at all..
Charlotte: I’ve read quotes from you saying that you were never ‘in to’ dance music – that it wasn’t a direction you thought you’d take. Is that true?
André: It’s true. If you told me five years ago that I’d be DJing right now I would have laughed at you. It wasn’t the plan but obviously I’ve grown to love Dance music, it’s what I do! Anyway, when I got to the states when I was 20 to start college no one listen to Electronic music. Everyone called it ‘Techno’ and that was just the blanket term for anything with a synthesizer. It was very underground there, it was taboo, it was nerdy. And that was shocking for me. Fast forward to now and it has become the mainstream. It’s been cool to watch people embrace it. There might be a sense of naivety; they don’t know the history so they’re open to everything, which has been very interesting.
Charlotte: How you selected the remixes that you do? Has there been any reactions from artists that you’ve remixed that have particularly touched you?
André: There’s been a few times like that. I never do unofficial remixes, its always through the label and through the artist. The first remix I did was of The Shins and I ended up meeting them after a show in St Louis. And James Mercer says to me ‘I like your version better than mine.’ I was just some little college kid, it was a defining moment and that was the beginning of it.
Charlotte: You recently remixed a Bob Marley track, I can imagine that must have been intimidating? What do you have to say to people who think the classics should never be touched?
André: I approached that with such respect for the original, I worked so hard on it. You always know you’ll never touch the original and that’s fine. I wanted to do something appropriate, and meaningful and to preserve the integrity. Normally I do a remix in a few days, this time it took me three or four weeks. It was an honour to work on something like that.
Charlottoe: Finally, we wanted to know what you listen to in your own downtime? When the party is over, you’ve finished DJing and you’re at home, what do you switch on?
André: I’ve been listening to a lot of Tame Impala, I like psychedelic rock. I also really like Step Kids, the story goes they were Alicia Keys backing band and then they went out on their own. I’m recording geek so I like listening to things that have been recorded well.
Charlotte: Thanks RAC!
RAC’s new EP, ‘Don’t Talk To‘, is out now.