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Shannon Livewell

André Allen Anjos: Where the Creation Comes From

Remix Artist Collective, better known as RAC, was founded by André Allen Anjos with partners Andrew Maury and Karl Kling. From 2007 on, RAC has been creating a never-ending mix tape of indie remixes that are becoming fan-favorites worldwide.

André Allen Anjos hails from Portugal  (Photo obtained via Facebook)
André Allen Anjos hails from Portugal
(Photo obtained via Facebook)

The collective has released remixes of notable artists such as Lana Del Rey, Edward Sharpe, Kings of Leon and Foster the People, to name a few.

On May 3, 2012, RAC released their first original song featuring Chris Glover entitled “Hollywood.” As a precursor for, at the time, their forthcoming album, the single gained a lot of attention and aided their word-of-mouth promotion a little further.

With the group’s latest album, Strangers, Part I & II (released April 1, 2014) still receiving immense amounts of attention, I was given the opportunity to talk with Anjos about his musical career, how it developed and where he foresees it heading in the future.

Anjos is a musician with experience in remixing, producing and songwriting. He has created most of RAC’s remixes, and his style is undoubtedly unique and ever developing. He is known for his distinctive sound and ability to manipulate analog tape for unique effects on his mixes.

“Music hasn’t always been something of interest to me,” he admitted when I asked if he had always known he was destined for the career he’s fallen into. “It was a hobby for many years. I was quite into design, and almost went to school for that. I’d say that was the turning the point; when I had to pick a college,” he went on. “It was never a clear vision, but it was either design school in New Zealand, or music school in Illinois.”

Anjos grew up in Portugal, but currently resides in Oregon. With such a vast difference between the cultural and musical tastes of where he grew up in comparison to where he currently lives, I wondered if he would say his past and home in Portugal influenced his musical style at all.

“It definitely influenced my musical passions in a certain direction. In Portugal, electronic music, at least at the time, was kind of the mainstream. I wasn’t into it at all, I really didn’t like it,” he confessed. “It took me a really long time to appreciate electronic music, but I grew up surrounded by it and being annoyed by it and my reaction to that was actually to get into metal and underground music. In the U.S., that was all kind of popular, but in Portugal it wasn’t even on the radio. I feel like that backbone that I got while living in Portugal in more of that standard rock genre has had a profound impact on my musical career.”

Strangers, composed of twenty-seven tracks on iTunes, possess an evident difference from other remix collaborations and collections. Perhaps Anjos rebelling against electronic music as a kid, and developing a passion for more Americanized underground rock, gave that edge to the album.

“The process of making the album was fairly simple. It was just a matter of sending out these demos that I had written and getting stuff back with a little criticism or direction. It wasn’t strange at all for me because I’m used to working remotely like that,” Anjos disclosed when talking about the evolution of Strangers. “Even if you throw me in a room with any artist, though, it still feels weird and new to me, just because I’ve been doing it remotely my whole life. That’s why I called it Strangers. Looking at the entire project it was kind of a theme that the tracks were constructed around people I’ve never met – and still to this day… have never met,” he joked.

“I recently did a collaboration with RZA from Wu Tang Clan and that was a little strange to me,” Anjos revealed when I inquired about his most interesting collaboration thus far. “He’s such a legendary figure that it was almost surreal. He walked in the room for the first time, we were at the studio in L.A., and it’s like 11:30 in the morning, and I was like ‘wait, what? He’s actually here?’ That was just so special and unique for me.”

While Anjos has many fans and listeners, he talks about how he makes his music for his own self-appreciation. It is easy to distinguish the musicians who make music because they need to, and who make music because the want to. It clear that Anjos wants to, and it becomes more evident with every new collaboration and release.

“My music is a very selfish and personal thing,” he explained. “There’s always an element to please other people and create something that they’ll enjoy – and you know, commerce and all this other stuff. At its very core though, I feel like music for me is very personal and I do it simply for my own entertainment. I always hope a listener will like it, but really, that’s not where the creation comes from.

“I actually have a Spotify playlist that I put all of my favorite songs into,” Anjos admitted to me when I asked about the tracks that inspire him to continue to make more music. “It’s kind of on-going and I add to it over time; I’ve been working on it since 2011. It catches a mix of things like songs I’m really excited about at the time, and then maybe my excitement fades a little bit down the road, but there are some gems in there.”

The playlist is composed of 172 songs (to date) and ranges from the likes of Beck, to Coldplay, to Bon Iver and Cults. The vast variety of this one Spotify playlist is enough to show a listener how Anjos has developed such a unique and well-rounded sound with his music.
I asked if there was a different sense of pride or ownership that came with releasing a remix over an original.

“First things first, I guess. I started remixing probably in 2003. I was dabbling in recording and remixing was an easy way to get a hold of vocals so I could write my own music underneath it,” Anjos explained. “Fast forward to 2005—I did my first official remix, and that was my entryway into the music industry and really persuaded me start RAC two years later in 2007. I don’t sing, and I wanted a vocal, so it was like, okay I’ll be practical about it and use someone else’s vocal and write my own music underneath it.”

“I don’t find much difference in between remixes and originals though, for me at least. They’re two very different things but the actual creative process for me is pretty much the same. I just write things that make sense. Underneath a preexisting vocal, or as a starting springboard, it really all boils down to the same thing in the end.”

It’s all the same thing in the end for Anjos’ listeners as well; amazing music that gets stuck in their head for days after listening. If you’ve never heard RAC or their remixes, you need to buy all of their music… right now… you’ll thank me later.

RAC will be performing live at Toad’s Place in New Haven proceeding The Knocks and Speak. The show is Monday, October 27, 2014—what better excuse to miss your Tuesday morning classes?