The Art of the Remix

Remix Artist Collective founder André Allen Anjos breaks it all down

You know that song you love, the one you play over and over, convinced it couldn’t get any better? Well, it can, and it does when in the capable hands of the Remix Artist Collective. Formed in 2007 by André Allen Anjos, a native of Portugual, who lives in Portland, Ore., Remix Artist Collective creates new, enhanced versions of popular songs, shaking up the typical techno, dubstep and clubby fixer-uppers with a more listener-friendly twist. Along with partners Andrew Maury of New York City and Portland’s Karl Kling, RAC’s impressive roster of remixed artists ranges from the Shins and Radiohead to dance tracks by Lady Gaga and Dragonette and even mainstream mavericks such as Kings of Leon and U2. They’ve also scored soundtracks for Holy Rollers (Sundance, 2010) and HBO’s series How to Make It in America and Entourage. Get your dance on with the master mixers on Sept. 21, when Anjos brings RAC’s indie-electro- and disco-inspired set to The Cut at Savile Row.

An RAC remix isn’t the typical sped-up dance or club mix associated with the word “remix”; it’s an entirely new version of a song. Why did you veer away from the club sound?

I just didn’t like it, to be honest. I’ve actually grown to like it a lot more since I started [remixing]. I saw this little niche for myself where I could make music that I like, and work for all these different artists and build a platform that would lead to more music. It really just came down to personal taste.

How would you describe the RAC remix style?

We try to make something that’s complimentary to the original song. If it means make it dance-y, then sure. There’s a song by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros called “Home,” and when I remixed that song I really did not want to make a danceable remix, because it’s really not that kind of song. Enhancing the essence of the song, that’s our style.

How do you capture that essence? What’s your process?

It really depends. There are certain songs that I purposefully don’t listen to a lot because I don’t want to become too tied up in specific moods. But there’s others that I’ll immediately be able to know what I want to do. That’s the great thing about remixing: You get a lot of diversity. Remixing Phoenix is going to be different than remixing Radiohead. I just have to kind of mess around for a bit. I wish there was an easy way, but I just have to be open to everything and whatever happens, happens.

What are some of your influences?

In a way I’m influenced by everything. There are a few bands that really influence me. Radiohead: Everyone says that, but it’s true. Third Eye Blind: A lot of people don’t really like them a lot, but I think they’re a really great pop band. A lot of people from our generation grew up on Third Eye Blind and kind of dismissed them, like, “Oh, they’re just a band from the ’90s.” I feel like if you went back and listened, [the music] has such good hooks and melodies. Some of their new stuff isn’t as good, but it’s definitely one of my influences and I see it come out and I just embrace it.

Many artists gain fame from the remixed versions of their songs created by others. How do you, as a remixer, feel about that?

I feel great about it, but I don’t know if they feel great about it. It happens occasionally, but certain artists embrace it. Theophilus London is playing my remix [of his song “Why Even Try”] live instead of playing the original version. It’s cool. Some artists are cool about it. I’ve never had a bad experience at all.

Many artists begin with DJing, then move on to remixing and finally producing. But you moved through the steps in a different order. What is it that keeps you in the remix?

Well, there are a couple of reasons why I really like remixing: I’m really just a studio nerd at heart, so [I like] having access to all these other recordings and being able to just build my own song, just using the same vocals. I like having access to all kinds of different singers and really great artists. I feel like I am writing a new song, even if it is based off of something else, I feel artistically fulfilled.