Andre Anjos is a remixing freak. And by "freak" we mean he's done a shitload of awesome remixes of songs by artists we love. For example, he''s remixed everyone from Black Ghosts, Bloc Party, Chromeo and Justice to Kenna, Radiohead, Tokyo Police Club and The Whip. Obviously it was time for Remix to have a little chat with Anjos, the founder and coordinator of the Remix Artist Collective, to find out his philosophy behind remixes and, of course, what his favorite gear is. Below is the Q&A Anjos had with Kylee Swenson.
What led you to founding the Remix Artist Collective and bringing other remixers into your vision?
The main reason behind creating RAC was simply boredom with the remix scene of the time. Most remixes were basically generic dance tracks. There is a time and a place for that, but I hoped to create something different and more interesting to myself. Before it all started, I found myself involved in a lot of different bands and projects, and in a way, it was simply to satisfy a creative need. I found that with remixing I could incorporate anything I want into a mix and not have to worry about the limitations of being in a band. With that said, after doing this for three years, I'm actually back to playing in a band called The Pragmatic. It's great to have that focus and direction, while having the remixing to explore all the other creative endeavors. I asked a couple of my friends to join RAC because I knew they understood the vision and could also record those ideas. A lot of people think we collaborate over the Internet, although that's not really the case. We collaborate by sharing ideas while we all work on individual remixes.
When you hear a track by a band you like, what do you hope to bring to the original by reworking it?
My biggest challenge is to remix a song I love. It pains me to have to take out parts that I like, but sometimes it's necessary in order to change a chord structure or a lead line. One of the most important things that I try to achieve when remixing is to actually add to the song, not necessarily to make it danceable. I simply try to make the song better. I'm not sure I always achieve that, but it's a goal nonetheless. I've tried to position RAC so that when somebody comes to us, it's because they want a remix that isn't intended for the typical outlets. Besides obvious selfish reasons behind the stylistic choices, RAC's remixes are intended for music lovers, not just the dancefloor.
What is your studio setup like? What are five pieces of hardware or software you could not live without?
I have a number of vintage analog synthesizers: Korg Polysix, Univox Mini-Korg, Roland Juno-60, and a modded Korg MicroKorg (digital). I play a Gibson SG through a VOX amp and I have an assortment of guitar pedals, some of them modified by friends. I have a normal MacBook that I do all my tracking on. My software of choice is Steinberg Cubase SX, although I recently got into Ableton Live and I'm trying that out as a remixing platform. I couldn't work without my Juno-60 and my cavaquinho, a Brazilian instrument similar to a ukulele. I also have a TEAC tape machine that I run everything through. For bass I use an old Guild from the '70s and run it through my VOX amp. I'm a terrible drummer, so I have to rely on software to program drums but I'd love to only use analog gear someday. I just got hooked up with a Moog endorsement, so I will probably be adding a Voyager to the mix. I can't possibly pick only five, I need everything in my studio.
When I look at the list of artists you''ve remixed, they seem to have a lot in common, musically, being the innovators of electronic, hip-hop rock music. What criteria do artists have to fulfill to be considered for a remix by the RAC?
I have an incessant need for music, and that tends to translate into either writing new songs, or discovering new bands. Along the way, I find something new and interesting and I reach out to offer my services. I've tried to build RAC on emerging/cutting-edge artists because those are the easiest to get to. A band that is just starting up is a lot easier to talk to then a major-label act with several managers, personal assistants and label people in the way. When that baby band blows up, I get carried along, not only with the relationship, but also with the exposure and hype. My affiliation with those artists is one of musicality and practicality. When it comes to already-established artists, like most people, my criteria are that I have to like the song and the band. I would be lying if I said that money isn't a factor, but I'm definitely a lot more focused on creating a portfolio I can be proud of.