Tuesday, October 21, 2014

{INTERVIEW} rac

This is an exciting one, guys! TIOJ got to chat with André Allen Anjos of RAC from his home in Portland as he was relaxing before heading out on tour this week (with a stop including DC!). Read ahead as we chat with Andre about remixes versus original music, what new album almost made him quit music, and how this tour compares to tours past.

Listen while you read:



Tell us about yourself and how RAC came to be.
RAC (Remix Artist Collective) started with the idea of creating a group of remixers that did remixes for, at the time, mostly indie artists. It’s primarily been an outlet for me to do remixes -- I’ve done 250 now -- for a wide variety of artists with the sole intention of doing something interesting with it and something that is relevant to the song and interesting. That has evolved into many other facets of music. I’ve done film, TV, original material as well and we DJ and now we have a live band. At this point, it’s a broad music project to do whatever I want.

Tell us about the process of creating a remix. Are you seeking out new tracks to remix or is it the opposite way around?
Early on, I was constantly asking artists to do remixes. These days, it’s more fielding requests, but early on there was a lot of basically begging via email saying, “Please let me do a remix… and do you wanna pay me by any chance?” That evolved into what it is now. I very rarely get to just go out and pick a song to remix.

I’ve always wanted to do things officially through the artist. What that means in practice is that it generally tends to be new songs and becomes part of a marketing plan for a label or an artist -- they have a single and they need a remix. I’m actually more in the marketing side of things than anything else. I think there’s a perception that I remix whatever I want; I guess to some extent that’s true because I get to say yes or no when I do something, but it’s not as simple as just going out and asking to do a song. There’s all this stuff that has to fall into place for me to do something.

Click ahead for more!

You’ve started branching out into original music -- how did you decide to spin off into original music? What has that process been like?
I’d been doing remixes for a couple years and I got a little bit bored with it. I got to the point where I didn’t have much to say; I felt kind of creatively stagnant. I [had] developed several relationships at this point with different artists so it was the perfect time to do try to do something. It started out very casually and then it spiraled into this gigantic project that took over my life for three years.

As far as sonically, at the time, I felt kind of stuck in the dance world. We were DJing a lot and things were going really well, but I didn’t want to get pigeon-holed into one specific genre where you felt like you have to make something in a specific style. I wanted to break out of the mold and try something new. [I thought,] "If it fails, whatever; I just wanted to try something." That’s when the project started to take shape. I came up with the concept of doing a pop album and getting all these guest vocalists and going through that nightmare of a process. It took a while, but at the end of it, I’m really proud of it and I’m already working on the second one. 



Now that you have more original music in your repertoire, what can we expect at a live RAC show?
It’s wildly different from the DJ set. It’s essentially a full rock band, a five-person rock band with this full light show. I’m really excited. I grew up playing in bands and really missed that. With a lot of the original material not being straight up dance music, it makes sense to take a couple risks and see what happens.

Especially on this tour, we’re playing venues like 9:30 Club (we’ve played 9:30 Club before, which is one of my favorite venues by the way!) and Terminal 5 in New York. It felt like, “Okay, now this is serious, we gotta step it up and really act like a band that deserves to play Terminal 5." That was the mentality that we had coming in to this tour. We obviously took it seriously before, but a year ago we were playing 300-cap rooms and now to go to 2,800-cap rooms is a pretty big jump within one year. We’re taking it to that level, hopefully.

Looking forward, if you had to pick: originals or remixes?
Hopefully I don’t have to pick. I really don’t know that I could pick a favorite because there are things I like about both. For example, with remixes, one of the greatest things is that it’s a constant outlet for me. With original material, there’s a lot of legal stuff that goes into it and preparation that goes into releasing music. You typically have six or seven months lead time after you finish a song to release it, so it’s kind of a slow process. With remixes, it can sometimes be that you finish a song and it comes out the next day. There’s something that’s really visceral about that. Getting immediate feedback from something that’s really fresh is something that I really like and keeps me working constantly. I really like that aspect of it -- you don’t have time to go over every little detail like you do with original music. It’s quick and fun. But, you know, original music is more of a craft; you have ultimate control.

Any new music that's been on constant rotation for you lately?
There’s been one record that I’m obsessed with lately: The Golden Echo by Kimbra. I stumbled upon this record and it completely blew my mind. Actually, the first time I heard it, I wanted to quit music. It was just so good. I get a little bit competitive with music and that was one where I was like “Okay, this is a standard to beat." It’s really amazing and I love every track on it.



Thanks again to André for taking the time to chat with us. Be sure to grab tickets to his show at 9:30 Club THIS SUNDAY before they sell out and follow us @thisisourjamdc to hear about Krista's experience checking him out at CMJ in New York on Thursday!

If you still want to hear more from RAC -- we highly recommend you listen to this Song Exploder episode in which he and MNDR talk through the process of creating "Let Go." 





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