A Conversation with RAC: Free From Self Restriction
  • TUESDAY, JUNE 23, 2015

  • Posted by: Niko Demetriou

The man behind RAC, André Allen Anjos, found a following by creating remixes that denied falling into the familiar club remix formula. Manipulating original structures and taking tracks into completely new genres led to some seriously refreshing interpretations. Last year, André hit us with Strangers, an album that stepped away from his familiar neo-disco inclusive remixes for a more rounded selection of original tracks. With an ensemble of familiar faces such as Penguin Prison and Tokyo Police Club stepping in on some of the tracks, his new work housed some of his most popular recordings to date. With a lively Coachella performance and his new single "Back of the Car," we wanted to get in touch with Andre to see where hes planning on taking RAC.





We wanted to catch up because of this new single of yours, "Back of the Car." Can you tell me a bit about this track; where did it come from?

RAC: Yeah, I sort of have been working on this for a while now. It was one of the first demos that I made after the last record, just this guitar riff I've had for a while. I sent it to my friend Nate... Nate Henricks. He's actually an old college buddy of mine; he's the first man that I ever recorded so it was kind of fun to go back to that, back to that world. He's actually one of the most talented people I've ever met and he's not really super active in the music world anymore so it was kinda fun to get back with him and start working. The song came together pretty quickly, he wrote the lyrics and he actually played a little bit of guitar on it as well. From there it was pretty quick but it was kinda this thing that I had sitting around for a while that eventually took shape.


Definitely fun getting back together with old music friends and I can see that in the track. It's a familiar song with that consistent deep bass of yours but with a different very summery feel to it. It kinda feels like this is continuing something that was present in Strangers, where you're stepping a bit away from that remix focused neo-disco kind of sound for this more live band feel. Am I wrong to assume this or is this something you're going for?

No, it's absolutely true and I can't say that it's super intentional; it's sort of what just came out, you know? Even with Strangers I feel like that. I worked on it for so long; I kind of just let it out. I didn't strive to move more into a live thing or anything like that; it was kinda just the natural music that was coming out. It kind of actually made my life a lot more difficult by doing that. I built a career on DJ-ing and now here I am writing pop songs. It was kind of shooting myself in the foot. Like what am I doing? I'm sort of shifting my whole business.

I'm kind of a slave to whatever this is, whatever keeps coming out of me, so this is just sort of a continuation of that. Letting it flow and see what happens. I don't start a song thinking like "Oh, I'm gonna do a dance song now." It doesn't work that way for me; maybe it works like that for other people but not for me. I don't have a lot of control; it's pretty improvisational. It's really fun for me to branch out into that cause this is what my background is; I grew up playing in bands and the more and more I DJ-ed, the more I missed that. It was unintentional but it sort of makes sense to me.


That's fair, it's a little unfortunate that you're stuck with RAC as your name when you're trying to move away from what that name literally stands for [Remix Artist Collective].

Yeah, you know, I sort of battled with that for a little bit because well, the name doesn't make sense at all. It really doesn't. It's a silly name, lets be real, but I've spent all these years of my life building this name and this brand and it is what it is. The music inevitably makes the name; you can have a silly name and still write music. I don't know that it's really held me back in any significant way. Sure, of course now I wish I had a cooler name or something like that, something that I didn't have to explain, but it goes in line with how the project works.




Alright, so you're planning on releasing more singles right? What's the plan with those?

So, I did the full length album and was really happy with that. That took a long time, about three and a half years to write and get everybody on board, and that whole process of waiting was pretty frustrating. For example, the song "Let Go" was written maybe in 2011 and came out in 2013, so you know there's all this waiting that kind of takes away a lot of the excitement. It just feels weird sitting on something that long, purely for legal reasons or whatever; i'ts not the right time to release. I just got kind of tired of that so I came up with this plan; let's just put out a bunch of singles. Let's see what happens.

Let's put out a bunch of music, a lot quicker turnaround, right now we're finishing up the second single. We're doing it now; it's not two years later, it's going to come out pretty soon. It's just nice to have that; I feel more connected with it I guess. With the internet and all of the amazing outlets that it provides, I can do that now, whereas four or five years ago I couldn't. Even two years ago, I'm not sure that you could pull it off as easily as you could now, so that's just exciting to me. I love the concept of an album; it's one of my favorite things about music. Building a cohesive piece of work, it's something I love doing, but there's something that's really freeing about not doing it in that context. Just writing songs and working with people and putting it out and just seeing what happens. You get a lot more immediate feedback, it's nice.


A lot more instant gratification, I get that.

Absolutely, yeah.


How long do you plan on keeping this single release train going?

Right now we're not really setting a time limit. Let's just see what happens.


Can we expect any music videos along with it?

Yeah, it may not be for every single song but that's really how we're approaching it. Let's just do stuff. That's where we are as a culture and the internet; we have all these capabilities; let's take advantage of it. Why are we still doing it like we did years ago? We can do it better.


So should your fans stop waiting for another remix compilation album like RAC Vol. 1 and 2, or should we kind of move past that and embrace this new move of yours.

Remixes are still very much a big part of what I do and surprisingly I still love doing it. I've been doing it for a while so I thought maybe by now I would have been burnt out, but I really do enjoy it. We don't have any concrete remix plans at the moment but that's something I still want to do. Even moving into more original stuff, I'm not giving up on remixes, in any way.



You just came off of a Coachella debut, how'd that go for you?

Coachella was amazing, it was one of those dream gigs. I remember in 2005 or something like that I was watching Coachella DVDs, back when people still watched DVDs, and it was sort of one of the ultimate festivals to play so it was always on the radar. It was something that we worked towards for a long long time, 5 years or so, and when we finally got to play it, it was great; it was everything I hoped for, I think we had like 50,000 people in that tent and it was a lot of fun.

It was so big that it was actually kind of weird. I wasn't necessarily nervous or anything like that but I felt like disconnected with so many people. When you play at a club, maybe 2,000 people, you can still see their faces and it feels like people. I guess I'm just not used to playing festivals that big yet. I felt slightly disconnected. It's kind of just a surreal experience. I like both kinds of shows; it can just be very different.


I'm not trying to get ahead of myself but are you planning on announcing any tour or anything after these single releases?

Yes, we haven't announced it yet; all I know is we're going to announce it soon. We're working on it basically.


Well there's one last question I have to ask; did you ever actually live out the back of a car?

[Laughs] No, I mean not technically but I do feel some kind of connection to the feeling that it invokes. Touring is kind of like that. I can relate to that feeling of just hitting the road. It's meant to be kind of a broad thing but I think it's kind of a metaphor for living freely and taking advantage of your time on this planet, I guess.


Yeah that kind of adds to the whole summer feel I was getting at; is that something you're going to keep going with on these future singles, that sort of hand-clappy feel good summer song?

That's just kind of what comes out, kind of what I was mentioning earlier. I don't have much control over it. I don't know if its a manifestation of whatever I'm dealing with but it's kinda just what happens.

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