RAC (Remix Artist Collective) is the result of founding member AndrÃ© Allen Anjos’ college kid hustle and is now a driving force in the remix world. Since 2008, the group has been a trio of AndrÃ©, Andrew Maury, and Karl Kling. As their name would suggest, the group is known almost exclusively for their remixes but are diving into the pool of original production with a new album expected to drop later this year. We got a taste of things to come when RAC invited Chris Glover’s Penguin Prison to perform the album’s first single at the Green Label Sound Showcase at SXSW. I got to catch up with AndrÃ© to talk more about the exciting things RAC is up to and about our mutual love of all things nu-disco.
So how did you get your start in music?
I was in college in southern Illinois going to music school and I wasn’t getting anywhere in the music industry. I was a sophomore applying for internships, but I was really into recording and working in the studio. I got to a point where I thought, I have two years left of college and if I’m going to start something, I might as well do it now. I had been doing remixes just for fun of artists like Madonna and Nelly Furtado and thought yeah, I can do this. I spent the next six or seven months emailing and calling people asking them to remix their stuff just trying to get my foot in the door. The first one that actually gave me a shot were The Shins, which I really lucked out on. After that it became increasingly easy to get work on other remixes. That’s sort of the beginning of it but there was definitely a lot of desperate college kid hustle.
You guys are from everywhere. When you started RAC, how did you when you wanted it to be a collective and how did you meet each other?
Well it started out with the idea of having multiple people. At first it was me and some internet friends and we did some remix competitions, so it was like, let’s just start it with these guys. They had day jobs and were sort of just doing it for fun and I wanted to take it to a more serious level and that’s when I met Karl and Andrew. Andrew had done a remix for Ra Ra Riot back in 2007 and I really liked what he did with it and he had expressed interest in joining. It all kind of worked out and it’s been the same members since 2008.
So how do you coordinate collaborating on a remix? Is it sometimes just you working on the track or do you make sure that everyone comes together on it?
When I started it I really had high hopes that it would be a completely collaborative process but then real life kind of sunk in. From a technical standpoint, it’s really difficult to do it since we’re all in different places so I think the term “collective” is a lot looser than a lot of people might think it is. We collaborate in the sense that we’ll run it by each other and sometimes it does happen. For instance, if a remix isn’t up to par or something, we’ll work together.
Do you try to maintain an “RAC vibe” to the tracks you work on? Is there a checklist that you guys run through?
Haha it’s kind of an unspoken thing at this point, we kind of know what it should sound like. It does go a little bit deeper than that. With remixes we take it seriously, we don’t just want to throw a drum beat on top of a song and call it a club mix. We really try to bring out the song and our sound really stems from that.
You recently did a collaboration with Penguin Prison’s Chris Glover. How did that come about and what was it like working with him?
Back in 2008 when Chris was still getting started with Penguin Prison, I did a remix for him and he really liked it. He turned it into an original track, which didn’t make it on his album, but after that we just kept on talking. I did a remix of “The Worst It Gets” and he was super happy with that. We just had this musical chemistry and when I decided to start doing original stuff, he was on the top of my list of people to collaborate with. Our track was actually one of the first to come together on this album and it’s going to be the first single. We’ll probably release a couple of singles before the album so it’ll be a constant stream of new material, really excited about it. I got to collaborate with some of my favorite artists, but of course I can’t talk about yet!
Did you contribute lyrically to your collaboration with Chris (Penguin Prison)?
No I try to stay out of that, I try to stay focused on the music side of things but I’ll definitely help out with melodies for sure. With lyrical content, it’s never been something I’ve paid attention to. That’s not to diminish it because there’s a great art in it, especially as a recording artist and guitar player.
How did your performance with Chris (Penguin Prison) at the Green Label Sound Showcase go?
It was a strange thing cause we were pretty much DJing the instrumental while he was singing so it was more his performance than it was ours. We’re still trying to figure out where we fall in the music world and trying to figure out what we can do with DJing and what we can do with live performances. That show wasn’t a complete representation of what we’re trying to do but it was definitely a lot of fun. Chris jumped in the crowd and it was a good time. We’re definitely thinking bigger things for the future. We really want to do much more of a live show – bring in instruments, synths, bass, guitar and some drums and play a lot of the album stuff live.
Do you think it’s inevitable for a remix artist to move into original production?
For me I’ve just done remixes for so long…and I feel like a lot of our remixes are pretty much original productions. Most of the time I just take the vocal track and write something completely new under it. So it wasn’t anything new to me, just how it’s perceived. I also really just wanted to collaborate and create music with cool people. It was kind of like, well this feels about right.
Who do you admire as a remix artist or producer?
With remixes one of my early influences is this guy Cornelius. He released two remix albums that were a very eclectic group of songs that he put his own style that were really interesting for the time. It really gave me the idea to start this whole thing. As far as producers, I really like old analog gear so I admire anybody who sticks to that stuff like Mark Ronson for instance. I’ve been listening to a lot of dance music lately, which is maybe a consequence of starting to DJ a lot. So I’ve been listening to the Magician, italo disco, Rodian & Khan, stuff like that.
Who are a few artists that you are keeping your eye on right now?
I saw one of the best shows I’ve ever seen at SXSW this year, this band called Escort that’s a 14 piece disco band. They played for half an hour and three songs and I was bummed that I couldn’t see more, but it was a great time. As far as other stuff, this band called White Arrows, who I’m also working with, they’ve just wrapped up their album. It’s tropical, psychedelic and a lot of fun. I also really like the band Body Language, I think they’re really phenomenal, as well as this band from the UK, Theme Park. There’s also some cool stuff on the dance side of things, like Goldroom, he’s blowing up right now.
Yeah I feel like nu-disco right now is kind of blowing up.
Yeah I absolutely love that stuff. Most of the time when we do DJ sets that’s what we’re playing and there’s a lot of really cool up and coming artists doing that. Some people I’m really excited about actually are Cyclist and Pat Lok. They did an amazing remix for The Rapture and totally killed it.