RAC is more than just a master remixer

RAC - André Allen AnjosPhotos by Jon Duenas // Written by Josh Herwitt //

André Allen Anjos remembers what it was like to be an undergraduate unsure of his future.

More than a decade ago, he left his home in Portugal to attend Greenville College, a private, Christian liberal arts school in southern Illinois with an enrollment of only 1,100 students. It was there that Anjos would pursue his love for music, learning about the ins and outs of the business after spending his teenage years studying piano and guitar in his home country.

But it was during his sophomore year in college that he also started to become worried about the career path he had chosen for himself.

“I was starting to freak out because I was applying to all these internships — any kind of position in a studio or at a record label that I could find — and I just couldn’t get anything,” he says by phone one day last month. “I applied for everything I possibly could.”

While Anjos was hoping to get a foot in the door any way he could, he realizes now that his résumé was likely just one among a stack of thousands. So, rather than filling out more job applications, he started to focus his efforts on something else: remixing.

At the time, remixing had largely been associated with electronic dance music, a world where both DJs and producers are regularly known for putting their own unique spin on their fellow colleagues’ work. But Anjos’ remixing interests didn’t lie with EDM. Rather, they aligned more with bands that fit under the indie-rock umbrella.

“I’d love to say I had some grand vision, but it was really me just trying to get by,” Anjos says.

What started as a “very casual thing” between Anjos and a couple of online friends quickly took off three months later when their remix of The Shins’ “Sleeping Lessons” went viral. With an upbeat, electro feel to it, the track would go on to earn a spot on the band’s B-side single release for “Australia” and immediately caught the collective ear of other established indie-rock bands like Tokyo Police Club, Bloc Party and Ra Ra Riot.

It wasn’t long after that Remix Artist Collective, or RAC for short, was born out of Anjos’ dorm room as he worked tirelessly over the next several years to expand his remix portfolio, which nowadays includes some of indie rock’s biggest names, whether it be Phoenix, Death Cab for Cutie, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Two Door Cinema Club or Lana Del Rey.

“I never thought that this would still be going,” Anjos admits as he thinks back to his initial goals and aspirations for the project. “It has sort of morphed into something completely different.”

Today, RAC is much more than simply a remix side project. With a full-length album to his name and his own set of touring members, Anjos has turned RAC into a legitimate band over the last few years. He has been releasing original material ever since 2012, when he dropped his first song “Hollywood” on the Mountain Dew-sponsored label Green Label Sound, and even more, he’s turned RAC into a commercially successful act with high-profile festivals stops at Ultra and Coachella — two large-scale U.S. music festivals with very different vibes — this past spring. For Anjos, who just entered the fourth decade of his life this year, playing both festivals is already one item he can cross off his bucket list.

“It’s been a bit of a goal to be in the middle of those two worlds,” he adds in discussing RAC’s appeal to both the electronic and indie crowds that Ultra and Coachella each foster.

Yet, after years of making a living on remixing some of his favorite artists, what made Anjos want to start writing his own songs?

RAC - André Allen Anjos

“It felt like the right time,” he says. “I had been writing original music for a while. It wasn’t necessarily foreign territory, but it just felt like the right time.”

Released on Interscope Records, RAC’s Strangers came out in early 2014 with singles featuring Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke and Matthew Koma, but what fans might not know is that most of the album’s songs were written in 2011 by Anjos, who employed many of the techniques he had learned from remixing to his songwriting process.

“The two go hand in hand,” he explains when it comes to creating remixes versus writing original songs. “When I sit down to write something, whether it has a vocal (part) or not, it’s still a very similar process for me.”

But in many ways, Strangers, which also includes tracks with Tegan and Sara, St. Lucia, Penguin Prison and Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, has additionally served as Anjos’ musical coming of age, one that continues to offer him new and exciting opportunities much like this Friday night’s headlining show in LA at Club Nokia that boasts openers Big Data, Geographer, filous and Karl Kling.

And with new material planned for the performance and his backing band clicking on all cylinders after playing together for the last two years, it’s a chance for Anjos to not only show RAC fans what’s next for the group, but also to prove how far he has come as an artist since his early remixing days.

“I feel really lucky,” he says while reflecting on his career so far. “Hopefully it continues.”

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