Meet the remix maestro and Kele Okereke collaborator Hype Machine just can't get rid of.
Remix wiz and purveyor of “post-pop", RAC, aka Portuguese-born, Portland-based Andre Allen Anjos, is on the rise. He's topped Hype Machine 22 times and has reworked tracks by everyone from Radiohead and Yeah Yeah Yeahs to Lana Del Rey and Kings of Leon… even Bob Marley. He’s now a music-maker, too, with a debut EP to his name. Don't Talk To features originals written with Red Bull Tour Bus travellers Tokyo Police Club, Penguin Prison and Katie Herzig, and a standout track, Let Go, featuring Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke and MNDR. Meet the man who'll refix you if you're not careful.
When did you think: when I grow up I want to be a remixer?
“For a long time I wasn't interested in pursuing it professionally. I like design so I almost went to art school. That seemed like a reasonable career path. I continued to write and record but I only intended to make it a hobby. When I was 16 or 17 I had some minor musical successes locally, so I started to see that maybe there was something in it.“
Where does your brand of uplifting indie-pop come from?
“Just a mass absorption of everything I grew up with – late ’80s and ’90s music had a profound effect. The good and the bad. More specifically, Radiohead, Beck, that sort of thing.”
How did your first remix come about?
“I can't sing. I've come to terms with that. But I really liked writing and recording so it was a practical problem. Remixes, though, allow you to take a vocal part and build your own song around it. It's obviously still derivative in some way, but it was liberating. My first remixes, pre-RAC, were mostly from pop acapellas I found on Soulseek.”
RAC is short for Remix Artist Collective, but isn't it just you now?
“When I started, I called it a collective. I'm not sure why. Wishful thinking maybe or lack of confidence in being a frontman. I asked other people to join, but I was still doing 99 per cent of the work. About a year or two in, Andrew Maury joined and it was the first time there was some other motivation involved. At some point I was asked to DJ, so I brought in my friend Karl Kling. Over the next few years it became clear I was doing all the remixing. It wasn't intentional and there's no bad blood – Karl tours with me and Andrew mixed the record, so we're still involved. But I dropped Remix Artist Collective. It doesn't make sense anymore.”
What's the strangest remix request you've had?
“A very famous rapper who did a kids’ film soundtrack. They wanted a remix, but I didn't think I could add anything to it.”
How did you learn the art of remixing – is there a manual?
“Trial and error – lots of it. I can't listen to my older material. It's a constant learning process and I'm sure I'll cringe when I listen to my current material in 10 years.”
What's your greatest non-musical influence?
“I'm fascinated by the world of entrepreneurs. I've always understood that I'm building a brand and a product. That seems counter-intuitive to say since I'm supposed to act like my art is sacred. That said, the best business plan is to work incredibly hard on your ‘product’. I think business and art are perfectly complementary.”