Music | Story by Kat Boehrer

RAC Has a Meeting With Strangers

The long-distance collaborator debuts his new live show at Life Is Beautiful


Remix Artist Collective—better known as RAC—is the curious and somewhat misleading name for the solo project of André Allen Anjos. The Portland, Oregon-based musician initially gained notoriety for his remixes of hit songs by Phoenix, U2 and Foster the People, among others. RAC once formally listed other band members, but Anjos has now taken on the name and the lead as his lone endeavor—hence the Collective confusion. Anjos is still frequently accompanied in his accomplishments, however. For his debut album, Anjos enlisted more than a dozen respected artists such as Tegan and Sara, Matthew Koma and Tokyo Police Club as guests. But here’s the kicker: He’s never met most of his collaborators in real life. But you can see him perform live at 9:45 p.m. October 24 on the Huntridge Stage at Life Is Beautiful.

You have a background in piano, guitar and traditional instruments. What is it about creating music electronically that converted you?

Electronic music was really kind of an afterthought. I grew up playing in bands. That’s how I learned how to write and record. I just kind of did what I was comfortable with. Over time, your sound changes and morphs. There’s not a whole lot of thought behind it; it’s more just out of convenience and just because I like it.

Do you ever think about going back to primarily using traditional instruments?

I go through phases. I get sick of one thing and then move on to another. With a live show, we have a full band and it’s kind of traditional in that sense—it’s like a rock band. With recording, I’ve been getting into using acoustic instruments, whether that be guitars or other kinds of strings. I feel like music is all the same thing, you just use different tools to reach a different result.

What are your performances like?

We’ve gone through a number of changes. For the past five years or so, I’ve been DJing. So that’s one kind of performance. Just recently, about a year ago, we switched over to the live band thing.

What can we expect from your performance at Life Is Beautiful?

More recently—well, literally last week—we started rehearsing with live vocals. Since my music [features different vocalists on each track] we just decided to get, like, three people to sing [them all] live. That was something that was lacking in our previous performances. So [Life Is Beautiful] is actually the first time we get to do it in a festival setting. I’m pretty excited.

What are the major differences between playing at a festival and playing a regular concert?

At a festival, probably—well hopefully—there are people there who want to see you. But you probably get a lot of people who are just passing or just curious, and you have to win them over. With a concert venue, you’re assuming that everybody who paid to be there wants to be there. When you do a concert, you have eight hours to set up. At a festival, you have 20 minutes, and you just hope that everything works. Festivals are a little crazy—kind of a whirlwind. You just get in there, do your best and get out. It keeps you on your toes.

I understand you executed your first album in an interesting way.

With the exception of my wife—who’s [also featured] on the album—I did pretty much everything over the Internet. That’s sort of what the title is about. It’s called Strangers, and most of the people [on the album] I don’t know and still to this day have not met.

I’m assuming you used Skype a lot? 

No, we didn’t even do that. It was all over email. We’ve obviously spoken quite a bit; when you’re working on music it’s very collaborative. But there wasn’t that in-person thing.

Your upcoming tour schedule is packed. How do you deal with traveling so much?

We’re like 12 people shoved in a bus, and I’m sure by the end of it we’ll be kind of tired of each other. But you know—that’s touring. We’re all really good friends.

What’s the best part of touring?

I’ve been DJing for five years straight; I haven’t really taken a break. Every weekend you’re out. It’s nice to be home during the week, but there’s always a sense that you’re in between places. Sometimes it’s hard to get work done. But then again, you get to travel the world and be a DJ! So I can’t really complain. It’s great. I go nuts with all the airline points. I’m big on that. Everybody has their favorite—I’m a United guy.