With so many remix artists out there today, it’s hard to weed out the good ones from the bad ones. RAC(Remix Artist Collective) are one of the artists who are blowing-minds. André and Andrew from RAC came by The Calcutta last week to talk about what they do and how they do it.
What is RAC(Remix Artist Collective)?
Andrew: Quite literally a remixing company. At first it was a pro-active scenario where we’d do a lot of mixes for free of bands we liked, but it has really turned a corner. I feel like all the mixes I’m working on now are because a band, artist, or label put in a request for our work. Most importantly though, I like to think RAC is a sonic brand of remixing. There’s so much out there, but you know a RAC mix when you hear it.
André: The intent was really to create a platform that would hopefully gain notoriety for doing things differently. We could use this to work as remixers, producers, designers, etc..
Can you describe how RAC was formed?
Andrew: André’s brain child. take it away.
André: Basically, I had been doing remixes unofficially for a while. I was remixing stuff like Madonna, Nelly Furtado and other pop artists. Like so many others, I had always dreamed of a career in the music industry and in my early college years I took some more serious steps in that direction. I simply made a website and started emailing and calling people. I decided to call The Shins manager, and luckily he answered. Somehow I convinced him to give me a shot at remixing a song off their new record. I didn’t even know, but they had never had any remixes done before. To this day, I believe only us and Peter Bjorn & John have ever remixed a Shins track. There was an underlying idea behind RAC, which was to be as creative as possible with remixes, to try to break the mold of typical remixes.
When did RAC start to get recognition from the public?
Andrew: André had been doing work for a whole year before I got involved, so it started back then. But even since I’ve joined a whole year after it started, I still see an increase in the blogging of our tracks. They also manage to catch the ears of some big names, like Stereogum, Pitchfork, Brooklyn Vegan, I Guess I’m Floating; stuff like that. Those have been major outlets for people hearing our work.
André: I’ve never spent a dime on publicity, so blogs have kind of been our way of getting our music out there. We’ve been in traditional press too, but the bulk of people that have heard us have done so through blogs. Things really starting picking up after The Shins remix and when some of the Bloc Party remixes started to pop up.
With so many remix artists out there today, did you find it difficult to separate yourselves from the field as a quality remix company?
Andrew: The remix artist is a relative term. You’ve got everything from the 12 year old with his new MacBook and Garageband, to people like André and myself, to renowned groups like Justice and MSTRKRFT. Notoriety varies. But there’s something about the chemistry of RAC mixes that I believe is inherently unique. I’m actually not very in touch with the “remix community” at large; but I feel like we have something special. Whatever we’re doing seems to be working with ease.
André: I believe a remix should be complementary to the original. As long as we keep that in mind, there is nothing to worry about. I’m much more worried about the band liking the remix, than defining a sound, and I tailor that to how I put it together. Most remixers probably try to adapt their sound to forcefully make it work with the original. There isn’t much thought put into that.
Were you guys involved in music before you started to remix?
Andrew: Always. I’ve been playing guitar in bands since 5th grade. I got into recording and sequencing in college, but I now realize how important the experience in a music-filled life really is to this field.
André: I lost count of how many bands/projects i’ve been involved in over the years. However, like Andrew said, it’s crucial to what we do today.
Besides remixing are you involved in any other musical endeavors?
Andrew: Since I graduated college and am no longer in a band, I am currently not performing. I’d like to play in a band for fun I suppose, but I’ve really got my eye on entrepreneurial recording/producing/remixing work. I also am working as a front-of-house sound engineer for Ra Ra Riot when they are on tour. Started doing that in the fall of ’08 and will be with them more for their March dates coming up.
André: As of last week, I have completed my college career, and am now doing this full time. I also play in a band called The Pragmatic. We’re playing SXSW and we’ll be on tour very soon. I also do some TV work for HBO‘s Entourage and some random commercials.
Say I’m an artist that wants a remix of one of my songs. How do I go about getting my songs to you? Or do you contact the artists you want to work with?
Andrew: We usually do it all by email at first. Once we check out the song they are interested in having remixed, we’ll decide if we want to take it on. From there, bands (or their producer) will usually mail a disc with all of the isolated, individual studio tracking for a song. It is either burned on a DVD or uploaded to a server online for us to download.
André: Nuff said (RIP Bernie Mac)
Any advice for young remixers out there who are just getting into the art?
Andrew: There are so many easy ways to get “good” sounds with all this software out there. But try your best to stay away from relying on it too heavily. I can’t tell you how much more fun, creative, and rewarding the process is when you record real instruments, or find interesting ways to create sounds. Use an electric bass, use an acoustic guitar, shake a tambourine, and run things into crazy pedals. Quit Reason, let go of your mouse, and get your hands dirty. I used to use the softsynths all the time, and cant stand them anymore. I love doing things more naturally. As a result, my entire income is now allocated to music toys…woops.
André: Well.. don’t expect money right away. It comes, but it takes a lot of work. I second what Andrew said, forget software, it’s not at the point where it’s better than the real thing. It’ll get there, but in the meantime use your hands.
Don’t have a Valentine? Come back tomorrow for part two and The Calcutta will be your valentine. :)