Dance music is in a weird place right now. It used to be that all electronic music was performed live steadfast by a dude in headphones who was tucked behind decks and a bunch of glowing lights, distant from the crowd. That’s still the case pretty frequently, but there’s this weird new thing a bunch of producers have been trying: they’re playing instruments. Weird, right? In the case of Remix Artist Collective, not so much.
RAC has a huge following thanks to their relentless reworking of other people’s music into their own danceable pop grooves. In a lot of ways they’re the textbook example of how to make it by making remixes. The key, though, is that RAC has a definite sonic identity all their own. We got a sneak peak at what their own music might sound like last year with the popular track “Hollywood.” When the Don’t Talk To EP dropped, I already had an idea of what it’d sound like.
I recently got a chance to talk with Andre Anjos himself about the new record, what it’s like to tour live, and…Mike Patton. Because that dude is awesome.
Hello, Andre! How’s it going?
Hello! I’m currently in Philadelphia. It’s a very cool place. We just flew in from the West Coast. We just did a run there.
How has that transition been, to doing instrumental live shows?
Well, I mean it’s been interesting. We’ve only been doing it for a week, so I haven’t had a whole lot of time to really reflect on the complete transition, but you know, the initial reaction has been amazing. It’s been so much fun.
We’ve been DJing for a long time, for like 3 or 4 years all over, and it’s a lot of fun. But then to get to do this…it’s like a whole different thing. It’s very exciting for me. I grew up playing in bands and stuff. It’s sort of back to my roots.
I imagine crowd interaction is different from Djing where you pick and choose according to what the crowd is feeling…
Yeah! It’s so different than DJing. It’s like you said, you have to…I don’t want to say “cater” because that sounds like it’s a negative thing, but it’s actually fun to build the night and feel people out. That’s one of the greatest things about DJing.
But on the live side, it’s really fun to prepare something and just do it live. You put on a show, people go out to see it, and there you go! There’s something to be said about that that’s really enjoyable for me.
I’d also like to talk a little bit about the Don’t Talk To EP. RAC is very well known for remixes and that type of thing, and now it seems like you’re transitioning towards making original music.
Yeah, it’s been an interesting ride. None of this was really planned. [RAC] was actually a side project when I started it. I was in some other bands, and it just wasn’t a primary focus. It’s kinda funny that it ended up being my entire life. It was just a remix project, something to do on the side, to have a lot of fun with and just do reinterpretations of songs. It was sort of my ticket into the music industry as well.
I did that for about seven years to the point where there was some kind of demand for it. That was very fulfilling. It got to a point where I’d been able to do a lot with the remixes, but I thought, “Let’s try the original side of things.” I had been doing that on the side as well, but I hadn’t been releasing anything; it kinda just felt like the right thing to do.
Working with all these different people on remixes, you sorta make friends, you build some relationships. It kinda just felt right. I had done it for long enough that it was like, “Maybe I can start asking some of these people to start singing on my tracks,” and that’s how this whole thing started to take shape.
Is that how you got into contact with Penguin Prison for “Hollywood”?
Yeah, exactly. I did a remix for them in 2007 or 2008, and it never came out, but we kept in touch, and we’ve always been working together here and there. They were sort of a natural choice to work with because we had worked so well together before.
He wasn’t even the first person that I got on a record to record stuff. The first person was actually Kele from Bloc Party. I got super lucky with that one too. [Laughs] Even though it came out later, it was definitely done before. It’s funny how that works.
Are there any dream collaborations that you have, the limits of space-time notwithstanding?
There’s always the ultimate list. A lot of it is borderline cliché, but Radiohead, Thom Yorke, that would obviously be a dream. James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem. I’m actually a huge fan of Mike Patton. Not everyone knows him, but you know, Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, all that stuff. He’s sorta been one of these people that I’ve always wanted to work with.
To be honest, I’ve already gotten to work with a lot of the people that I really admire. There’s this EP, which is part of the full-length record, that’s coming out that has a lot of those collaborations on it. I feel very fortunate that a lot of those dreams have already happened. But unfortunately, I can’t really talk about it. [Laughs]
Okay, that makes sense considering the success of the two really big collaborations you have on the EP with Kele and MNDR. Do you have any more plans on working with them?
I can definitely say at this point that we haven’t done anything else, but we actually produced a song of Kele’s own material. That came out earlier, like a year ago. And you know Amanda [MNDR], I’m sure we’ll definitely work on stuff. Whether it’s RAC or her own material, we’ll have to wait and see. But as far as RAC stuff, we haven’t done anything else.
Are you guys working on a full-length LP?
Yeah! It’s the same exact concept as the EP. It’s, uh, almost ready. [Laughs] You know, it’s a work in progress. It’s the same exact concept. I wrote the music, and I have different guest vocalists on each track.
Who/what are you listening to right now?
Lately, it’s been the Arcade Fire just sort of on repeat. I’ve always loved them. Just kinda getting to know the new album. Tame Impala, both records are just phenomenal. Sometimes I dive into older Paul Simon records. He wasn’t super successful, but there are some hidden gems in there. I try to listen to a wide variety of stuff.
It’s interesting that you mentioned Mike Patton. He’s one of those artists that doesn’t get a lot of buzz. I remember him from that project with Dan the Automator, Lovage.
Mike Patton has sort of been this crazy influence of mine since I was like 14 years old. I think the latest project he’s done was that Mondo Cane thing. He released a record of covers of Italian pop music. Essentially it’s a live album, but it sounds like a studio album, and he toured with an orchestra. Of course he did. I love that every other year or so, he comes out with this weird new project. It’s always amazing. I feel like that weirdness has kept him out of the mainstream side of things, but I just love it.
Would you ever consider going on tour doing Ital-pop remixes?
[Laughs] We’ll see! I don’t know. I don’t think I can pull it off like he does. I dunno, I love that…his lack of inhibition to do stuff like that. Of course, he could probably tour on the Mr. Bungle records forever — he’ll always have fans — but you know, he doesn’t. He always comes up with new things. His fans go see the bands while they exists.
Seeing RAC live at the Troubadour on this short West Coast tour was an excellent time, but it also felt like just a preview of what’s to come from them. It feels strange to say, but I would really like to hear more original music from the Remix Artist Collective. They make good pop songs that aren’t totally vapid, formulaic, and, most importantly, boring. Honestly, I’d be glad if they keep doing remixes, too, but their live performance left me hungry for an album. Personally, I can’t wait to hear it.
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