RAC

RAC-on-tour
RAC used to stand for “Remix Artist Collective.” That name doesn’t make much sense anymore, but who cares? These days RAC is the solo project of Andre Allen Anjos. RAC is known for about 200+ remixes. The concept was created with the goal to change the way songs were remixed. Taking the focus away from “danceability” of the song and trying different types of arrangements, the RAC concept had become a success. Andre has released a couple successful singles from his new album including “Let Go” and “Hollywood.” We got a chance to sit down with Andre and run a few questions by him and this was the result!

Ashten: Not sure if you remember me or not, we met at Lollapalooza.

Andre: oh yeah, I totally remember. I signed your copy of the vinyl

Ashten: Indeed! I’m shocked you remembered. But for my first question, what tools and hardware to you use for your signature sound that has become so prevalent?

Andre: I’m a bit if a nerd with that stuff. I can get a bit technical. I collect vintage analog synths. There are a lot of new manufacturers creating hardware with an old school style. Everything is kind of coming full circle. Things that haven’t been around since the 70s are being re-issued. So much is happening in that world which is really exciting for me to have access to all of these tools to create. Modulators and Analog Synths; I have several real pianos and electric keyboards, Guitars and amps. I’m totally immersed in the technical side of recording.

Ashten: What would you say are your 2 favorite pieces of hardware?

Andre: Roland Juno 60 – the first synth I ever bought, one of the more used synths in my line of work. I would say it has the most influence on my sound. And Korg MS10, which is a 1973 issued piece of machinery that I find simply amazing. I use those 2 the most to craft my signature sound.

Ashten: Do you still work with The Pragmatic?

Andre: No, not really, Its kind of funny. The band consisted of myself, my wife, Carl Kling and a drummer. The band kind of fizzled out. We started touring with RAC, then Karl and I began to DJ so it just ended up fizzling out. When we perform live with RAC those two other people are just in the band with a different drummer. So it’s almost as if we’re still playing together.

Ashten: So were those parts of The Pragmatic on stage with you at Lollapalooza?

Andre: I guess, technically yes. There was a portion there and a different drummer but yes.

Ash: How can you describe touring with The Knocks?

Andre: I’ve known those guys for a while now. I think we met at some point on tour. We sort of live in the same musical world and play a lot of the same events so over time we just found ourselves in the same places, started hanging out and became friends. We had thought about doing a tour together and I’m glad that we finally made that happen.

Ash: That’s awesome! I love when good ideas come to fruition. Now, you hit a few extra festivals this summer than usual, how was the scheduling and traveling?

Andre: This year has been a little bit crazy. Especially when you have an album come out, you kind of just go with it. You don’t have much time to think about it so you just kind of do it. That was sort of how everything felt all year long and it seems like it will keep going through the end of the year. I don’t think I’ve even really processed what’s going on yet. Its just been an insane amount of planes and festivals. I don’t know if you’re into airline mileage plans but I’m at 120,000 miles this year.

Ash: Holy Crap!RAC tour

Andre: Its just so much travel. Some people may think its awesome but I’m just like “Oh my god, I’m spending so much time on airplanes.” But that just comes with the job especially when things are moving, you always want to take advantage of that and see how far it goes. That’s sort of been my approach to things. You just got to have fun with it and try not to stress too much about it. Its been a great ride, a world-wind.

Ash: when you are looking to remix a song, what do you look for to inspire your remix?

Andre: The way that works is, labels and artists will request a remix from me. Most of the time I get to pick whether or not I will use the song but very rarely do I get to pick the actual song myself. It’s also how I make a living so I’m basically hired to do these things. I choose based on “I like this song so I want to work on it” or “I don’t like this song and I don’t want to work on it.” There’s less freedom in that. There’s lot of paperwork and I need to get a lot of original recording files. There’s actually a lot that goes into that.

Ash: Once you say yes to a request, what are elements of the song that draw you in and give you inspiration for the remix?

Andre: I have a core belief that every song has its own essence and I mean that in a pretty practical sense. It has a basic cord structure, a vocal(most likely) and it has the structure of the actual song. Possibly even an instrumental hook. You can usually breakdown songs into those basic elements. Most of the time I take the vocals and listen to them repeatedly and start adding my own instrumentation underneath it. Almost recreating the song with a slightly different arrangement, underneath something that is already there. And that obviously varies from song to song but that is sort of the general idea behind it.

Ash: off stage, who is Andre?

Andre: I don’t think I’m a different person off stage but that’s probably not your question. I feel normal, I like normal things. Because of touring and travel, I’ve sort of become really interested in travel and I try to make the most of it when I’m not on the clock. Its something I’ve come to appreciate quite a bit and I’ve become a fan of photography because of all the travel. It’s a hobby where I can be creative just for the sheer fun of it. Its not as complicated as the music industry.

Ash: When you were a kid, what did you think you’d be doing at this age?

Andre: When I was a kid I wanted to be in the NBA, that was my dream. That obviously did not pan out. I can’t say that I really pursued it. I guess I hoped I would do something related to sports. Once I turned about 12, I figured I needed to find another profession more feasible. I also lived in Portugal, so I was even further removed from that world. Very few foreign people even get close to that life so yeah, that was the dream.

Ash: What made you move to the US from Portugal?

Andre: I feel lucky because my mother is American so I have that dual citizenship. So just to have the opportunity to come the US, I think that’s something that a lot of people take for granted. Anyone that doesn’t have US citizenship can probably attest to how difficult it is to enter, work and live in this country. I was totally lucky to be born with citizenship. I had the opportunity to go to school here, which was the primary reason, then I met my wife and stayed. The US is a lot more friendlier to career musicians so that was also a pretty big factor. Portugal is an amazing place and I wish more people would visit because its kind of off the beaten path and its kind of a hidden gem of a place. But with that said, its a country primarily based on tourism so it kind of lacks the infrastructure to support artists in that sense. There are few success stories but it’s a lot harder to make it there.

Ash: When did you know that you had found your passion?

Andre: I’ve always been really fascinated by music and its something that was always there. I don’t know that there was ever a specific moment where it all clicked but it was one of the many things that just kind of worked out. Back when I was deciding where I’d go to school I had an opportunity to design. I often wonder what would have happened had I gone down that path. Even now it’s obviously going well with music but I kind of want to do a lot of different things and music is just a part of the bigger picture.

Ash: Between making your own music, creating content for HBO’s Entourage, and touring what do you think are some skills that RAC merchsuccessful producers should possess?

Andre: Maybe an open mind. I often struggle with getting kind of negative about certain styles of music but once you put yourself in a box that’s kind of the end. You’ll never evolve and get past that place. I made a conscious effort to be open and try new things. Whether being in the DJ world forever and trying pop music… I’m going to be the happiest if I can just do whatever I want whenever I want it. The least hindrances the better. That comes from being open and being willing to change and adapt.

Ash: Since you’re constantly on the road a lot, how have those eating, sleeping and work habits changed?

Andre: It sucked for quite a bit. It’s just all over the place. I’ve learned how to sleep on the airplanes. I got this down to a science. I have special earplugs, a face mask and special pocket for it. I know when the boarding time is, the perfect time to wake up to be there on time so I don’t break my sleep pattern. When you’re forced to find sleep a lot you kind of figure out a good system, especially with tons of traveling. I’ve learned to game the system, between TSA pre-checks and skipping lines. All those little things that when you share with friends and they have no frame of reference but when you’re in the airport 160 days a year, that stuff does matter because its such a large portion of your life

Ash: Because you want to do so much, when you eventually retire what do you think you’ll be retiring from?

Andre: I don’t know that I want to retire. Maybe its a cliché but I really do love what I do and I want to do this or things like it for the rest of my life. As long as I’m doing something creative I think I’d be happy. That’s just something that I’ve found to hold true in my life. But I haven’t given it too much thought at this point, things have just been a blur to be honest

Ash: What has been the response for your Strangers EP?

Andre: Well thank you for buying the vinyl. The response has been really good and kind of weird as well. These were very personal sons for many years, I worked on this for 3 years and then it came out and I was just like “Wow, people are listening to this now.” This was my little secret project and I didn’t really tell anyone what was going on. I was living with this huge secret project and I grew a sense of relief when I finally released it. The response has been rewarding and I feel very lucky that people actually like it. It’s nice to know that people actually like my work, That’s always a bonus.

Ash: personal question, what was it like working with St Lucia and Body Language?

Andre: Those artists, they’re so good! We primarily worked on everything via the Internet. I didn’t get a lot of in person studio time with the artists. It was primarily done through email. With Body language, she sent the recording and it was an awesome finished pop song. I didn’t have much input at all. She kind of nailed it and I was extremely happy with it. She did exactly what I hoped she would do with the song. I wanted to try to pop thing. St. Lucia, was a similar situation but it’s less of a pop song. Their song was more of a moody ballad, and I’ve always loved the male and female vocal dynamic. I think its even cooler that they are a married couple. It can be so cheesy but I don’t care, I love it

RAC drumAsh: what is an average day in the life for you

Andre: Not too exciting. When I’m home, I get up around 10am, drink a boat-load of coffee and work until about 6 or 7pm. Then I just chill out. That’s pretty much it. When I’m on the road its pretty hectic and all over the place. You roll up to the city, you do press, you load in, then sound-check, you breath for 5 minutes, play a show, go to bed and wake up to do it all over again the next day. You do that everyday for a month and finally go home for a day. You get used to it. You get into two different modes. I’m still wrapping my head around it. It’s a weird lifestyle.

 

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