André Allen Anjos, aka RAC, has made a name for himself by creating some of the most evocative and creative remixes in the music world. Each remix he puts out masterfully grasps the most important aspects of the original song, all the while giving it an entirely fresh and fluid sound. It makes sense, then, that Anjos is finally venturing into the realm of original content, the first taste of which is his debut single ‘Hollywood’. The song, which features vocals from Penguin Prison’s Chris Glover, was a seamless evolution from the remixes RAC has been making for the past several years, taking those experiences and applying it to a made-from-scratch song. The result is an incredibly catchy and wholly indelible piece of music, one that, from start to finish, is tirelessly enjoyable and simply fun to listen to.
During his recent tour, RAC made a stop in Vancouver, performing at the city’s famous Waldorf Hotel. Before the show, Adrian McCavour of Some Kind of Awesome and I had the opportunity to chat with Anjos about all things RAC: his approach to remixes, how he has applied that to original content, his singing abilities, and future releases.
Adrian McCavour: Each remix you put out, carries the intent of the original song, but takes it to a whole new level with a more fluid sound. What approach do you take when creating a remix?
André Allen Anjos: With the remix, it’s kind of like writing a new song. I know that people don’t perceive it that way, or people don’t think anything is original, but it’s kind of like taking out what makes it that song – whether its structure, or a hook, or one of the main things – and then building around that. It’s really about what’s important in that song, and changing the rest, because the rest is irrelevant and interchangeable. That’s kinda what it is, on a practical level it is a lot of time just listening to the song and figuring out what’s important.
Alec Ross: When making a song on your own, is the approach more difficult? Is there anything different in the process?
André: The only real difference is how much pressure I put on myself, because with remixes, normally you’re working with ridiculous deadlines and a lot of the times you just wing it. Sometimes it’s kind of crazy to have a remix I listen to and think “Oh man I wish I had more time for that”, but it doesn’t work out that way. With this it was different because I had all the time in the world and I didn’t have deadlines and I could do whatever I wanted. It was really fun, it was just more pressure on myself. Working with Chris [Glover] was great, that was the easiest part of it.
Adrian: What did you enjoy most about the song? Was it making the song itself, the reception it received, or perhaps the music video with the ridiculous cowboy?
André: To some extent it was the freedom of doing whatever I wanted and establishing myself as an original artist. It’s kind of strange, but really fun. Obviously working with Green Label [Sound], they made a lot of stuff happen financially with the video, and got some pretty big names mixing as well.
Alec: It’s pretty cool that you’re with Green Label Sound, it seems like they provide you with a certain amount of “you guys can do what you want, and create what you want to create”, it’s very multi-faceted who is on that label, and all of you are great in your own way.
André: Yeah, well the thing with them is that I had the song way before I even met them. A lot of people worry about labels messing with their music, and they get super protective, but I already had the song so it was never a conversation that came up. I don’t think they’re the kind of people that would do that anyways. They’re all indie label people, with Mountain Dew money basically. They’re doing a lot of real cool stuff because of it, and it’s really exciting, and I’m glad to be a part of it.
Alec: Up here in Vancouver it was really noticeable the amount of new listeners you got from your remix of Lana Del Rey’s ‘Blue Jeans’ . Did you expect that amount of attention?
André: I can look at facebook stats all day long, but a lot of these things are kind of intangible and you only really notice when you go somewhere. Obviously when the offer came in it was an easy decision because I knew it was going to do well, I never realized it was going to do this well. I definitely noticed some change, but where I really saw the difference was when we played it live and I was like “Woah, people noticed.”
Adrian: How do you prepare for your live shows? With your large amount of output, how much decision and thought goes into the set list?
André: Everything is on the spot. We just gauge the crowd a little bit, and there’s always a couple misfires, but it’s more that way. If we played the same songs every night I’d go insane. DJ’ing is easy enough, and if you already pre-planned your set, that’s just incredibly boring. It’s almost for selfish reasons that we do it on the fly.
Alec: With your original sets, are you going to continue to use vocals of other artists or are you playing with the idea of using your own vocals? What’s next for your original content songs?
André: Yeah, I can’t sing. I just really can’t. I also really enjoy the musical side of it, and don’t feel like I have that much to say, and I also want to collaborate with other people. To answer your question, there will be a whole album with collaborations like that, and this is only the beginning of that. We’re going through the labels right now, and I’d love to tell you about all the other artists, but I’m going through all the legal stuff. So once that’s over we’ll make a big announcement and announce solo artists. I’m pretty excited about it, I got to work with some crazy people.
Adrian: In the near future, will you be focused more on original content rather than remixes or vice versa? Can we expect an EP or an LP?
André: It will be an LP for sure. I have something like twenty-five songs with vocals and I have to narrow that down. It’s going to be the most difficult thing I have ever done, but that’s going to be coming out. I’m definitely not going to stop doing remixes, that’s what got us where we are and we’re not going to turn our backs on that. I still love doing remixes and it’s an easy way to collaborate with somebody and do something fun.
Alec: Are there any Vancouver bands you ever thought of remixing? What’s your perception of Vancouver’s music scene?
André: Bands? Well, I know a lot of DJs from Vancouver, and maybe I do know some bands, but I just don’t know if they’re from Vancouver. There’s actually a really cool scene in Vancouver with a lot of not well-known artists like Cyclist, PAT LOK, and U-Turn is from Vancouver.
Alec: Aside from listening to your own music, what have you been listening to? Are you reading any good books?
André: Well, I’m actually not really much of a reader, but I read a lot of music bindings and music production stuff. Musically, I’ve actually been listening to Afrobeat stuff and Tame Impala.