Formed in 2007, the international group RAC was born from the vision of Portugal native André Allen Anjos. His mission was to concoct true to form re-interprative mixes from some of today’s most popular musical acts. Now a three man outfit consisting of Anjos, Andrew Maury, and Karl Kling, the Portland-based crew has engineered the creation of over 180 remixes and originally produced tracks. Sifting through so many records was no small task, so to get us started we asked Anjos to identify a few of his favorite works.
“I know you were asking for my favorites, but these are more like my favorite remixes that kind of went unnoticed.” he explained. “They all kind of mean something special. They were all kind of transitional songs where I changed the writing style up.” The five he listed, in no particular order were:
The Violens – “Spectator & Pupil (RAC Remix)”
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – “Janglin (RAC Remix)”
Hesta Prynn – “Can We Go (RAC Remix)”
“Natalie Walker’s – “Cool Kids (RAC Remix)”
Rubblebucket’s – “Silly Fathers (RAC Remix)”
We started there and continued on a long listening spree to pick out the 25 best RAC remixes.
Hit “next” or click the pictures to read on…
25. The Shins – “Sleeping Lessons (RAC Remix)”
“Sleeping Lessons” should be a credited college course. Everyone I know would have taken that shit and the world would no doubt be a better place because of it. On this one, RAC puts a Postal Service-like spin on The Shins’ hit, trading in an extended guitar thrashing towards the last 1/3 for a more relaxed attitude that keeps the groggy song gliding along from start to finish.
24. Bloc Party – “Hunting For Witches (RAC Remix)”
This is a song with a message, one that’s been debated since the track was released on Bloc Party’s 2007 album, A Weekend in the City. Some believe the it was written as a reaction to the 2005 London bombing, others claim the band was taking shots at the government and media for fear mongering. Whatever the purpose, Bloc Party laced together a venomous piece of music, one that RAC tinkered with to create this fittingly chaotic remix.
23. Depeche Mode – “Enjoy The Silence” (RAC Remix)
Electronic music pioneers Depeche Mode are partly responsible for inspiring a lot of the artists and styles that RAC prefers to remix. With that in mind it makes perfect sense that the group would select a Depeche Mode cut to rework, and “Enjoy The Silence” is the lucky winner. Their choice to insert a brass presence at the beginning and middle portions of the update, as opposed to just the closing of the original, was a stellar move. It creates a foundation for the rest of the track to build from, and build it does.
22. The Temper Tramp – “Sweet Disposition” (RAC Remix)
It’s impossible to describe this song without using the words ” beautiful” and “climactic.” What starts off as such a simple beautiful number, eventually builds into a climatic crescendo just as Dougy Mandagi belts out the lyrics, “So stay there/’Cause I’ll be coming over.” It ebbs and flows as a series of musical peaks and valleys. In recognizing that important landscape, RAC allowed their remix to follow a similar pattern, but chose to also lace it with an enthusiastic temperament that gives the track a more playful feel.
21. Hockey – “Too Fake (RAC Remix)”
Hockey’s “Too Fake” mixes the all the movement of a dance floor cut with the delivery on par with the best rock ‘n’ roll. RAC adds a third element: some funk. The result is something with even more bounce to it, and it trades a little of that choppy edge for a fluid accessibility.
20. Empire Of The Sun – “Walking on a Dream (RAC Remix)”
There might not be a more suitable artist for RAC to remix than Australia’s Empire Of The Sun. A lot of the duo’s original material sounds like it was tailor-made for a proper RAC-ing, and “Walking on a Dream” is no exception.
19. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – “Home (RAC Remix)”
If there were ever a song that could have soundtracked the entire Oregon Trail experience during the early 19th century, this would have been it. “Home” is a dusty whistling tune—one that warms the heart and pleases the ears. RAC didn’t stretch too far with the remix, but it is nice to hear their take on this already infectiously catchy joint.
18. Theophilus London ft. Sara Quin – “Why Even Try (RAC Remix)”
Theophilus London has never been afraid to experiment with his sound. He can easily transition from a high energy rap track like “Big Spender” with A$AP Rocky to something a little more new-wavy like “Why Even Try,” which he recorded alongside Sara Quin of Tegan & Sara fame. The chiming bells are a signature piece of this tune that had to remain in place, but the prancing piano riff is a new and welcomed addition.
17. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Zero (RAC Remix)”
There is an electric current that courses through the veins of this record. Karen O and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are known for inventing pulsating, powerful pieces of instrumentation, and “Zero” is no different. Sticking to that theme, RAC cranked the voltage up a couple thousand watts and turned it into the type of tune you’d be glad to find yourself pelvic thrusting to at a hip warehouse party.
16. Phoenix – “Armistice (RAC Remix)”
Synth-pop rock band Phoenix generally doesn’t need any help getting people to move to their music. On it’s own “Armistice” is already a rhythmic upbeat track, and was just one of the many highlights from the group’s 2009 Wolfgang Amadeus release. Adhering to the thought of “if some is good, more is better,” RAC pumped this remix full of dance sauce and took the fun to a whole new level.
15. Ellie Goulding – “Lights (RAC Remix)”
This song gets around. It hasn’t been feasted on as much as some other pop tracks we know, but it’s certainly had it’s fair share of suitors. Bassnectar went dubstep with it. Lupe spit lyrics over it. And then there’s the RAC incarnation, which takes a slightly slower and less intense approach. As one Soundcloud commenter put it, “Ellie Goulding + RAC = Nuke!”
14. Rubblebucket – “Silly Fathers (RAC Mix)”
This is an André Anjos favorite. His work on “Silly Fathers,” by the eight-piece indie-dance outfit Rubblebucket, is fantastically entertaining and it’s easy to see why he’s proud of this remixed effort.
13. Natalie Walker – “Cool Kids (RAC Mix)”
Natalie Walker’s “Cool Kids” is hip, seductive, and very well conceived. It tends to pound along with an ominous tone as she sings of doing risque activities where the cool kids are. Any proper “partying in the city” montage needs a song with a pumping beat, and that’s just what RAC delivered. Their modernized interpretation pulsates with intermittent laser snaps, and has just the right level of energy to keep a late night party vibe on course.
12. Tokyo Police Club – “Wait Up (Boots of Danger) (RAC Remix)”
All it took was a proper dose of synth to move Tokyo Police Club’s “Wait Up (Boots of Danger)” from a guitar-heavy rock track to a lighthearted bouncy number. The variation between RAC’s version and the original is pretty dramatic, which just goes to show how creative the trio is able to get with the songs they choose to reconfigure.
11. Alex Winston – “Velvet Elvis (RAC Remix)”
Oh, hey there xylophone. You’re just another stunning example of how RAC can enhance an already impressive track by blending in some subtle instrumental adjustments. Alex Winston’s “Velvet Elvis” didn’t need much work, and in this particular case less is more.
10. Zee Avi – “Concrete Wall (RAC Remix)”
Zee Avi’s original version of “Concrete Wall” is stripped down and simple. Her voice is lovely and because of that you could very easily overlook the fact that there’s hardly any instrumentation in the song at all. While it clearly works as is, RAC does a wonderful job of flushing out a fuller sound that still perfectly showcases Avi’s voice and takes nothing away from the beauty of the original.
9. Violens – “Spectator & Pupil (RAC Mix)”
RAC took their remix of the Violens’ “Spector & Pupil” in an entirely fresh direction. Created originally as a straightforward rock song, the touches and sways that Anjos incorporated help to give the remix a vary open, spacey feel. The driving guitar force heard in the first version is all but entirely absent and replaced by airy synth punches that float this record to the moon.
8. Two Door Cinema Club – “Something Good Can Work (RAC Remix)”
RAC switched things up a bit with this one. They opted for a more dramatic opening that incorporates some classic piano flare rather than the single-finger chord plucking that intros the original version of “Something Good Can Work.” Something this good can work, and the addition of some varying electronic instrumentation and echoing vocal fades gives this remix a much more funky fresh vibe.
7. John Legend – “Everybody Knows (RAC Remix)”
Soulful R&B and soothing vocals are the name of John Legend’s game. On “Everybody Knows” the crooner addresses the pain caused by learning of an exes’ newfound relationship and trying to cope with that sadness.
His work is often so flawless that it’s hard to believe any remix could enhance the quality, but RAC’s use of a delicate piano intro and poignantly enhanced highs and lows help in keeping with the song’s original characteristics to make sure its emotional appeal remains intact.
6. Penguin Prison – “Worse It Gets (RAC Remix)”
Welcome to the 1980’s. You can almost hear this song playing in the background of some cheesy teenage movie as a young Ralph Macchio or Patrick Dempsey-type works exhaustively on a plan to lock lips with the most popular girl in school. Penguin Prison teed this track up perfectly for RAC. It already contained a number of the elements their remixes are known for. A few tweaks here and there and the rest is history.
5. Phantogram – “When I’m Small (RAC Remix)”
“When I’m Small” is just one of those songs. It’s a musical contradiction that pairs menacing, molar-rattling bass booms with the soft feminine oohs of vocalist Sara Barthel. The track’s dynamic heavily relies on this delicate balance of opposition, and RAC clearly pays notice to that in their remix. It may not hit as hard as the original, but the chugging electronic drum beat is certainly an apt adjustment.
4. Lana Del Rey – “Blue Jeans (RAC Remix)”
Oh, Lana. So many things could be said of this beautiful songstress. Whether good or bad, you’d be well advised to put your feelings aside and prepare to be mesmerized by the astonishing overhaul that RAC executed with this “Blue Jeans” remix. It’s so good that you’ll forget all the drama surrounding Ms. Del Rey’s ascent into the spotlight.
3. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – “Janglin’ (RAC Remix)”
The common theme among RAC remixes is the masterful subtlety. RAC doesn’t remix songs to fuck up your head or melt your face—that’s not the point. You’ll never hear an RAC remake rip out the soul of a song and replace it with a new one. With Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros’ “Janglin'” remix, everything is exactly where it should be, just spruced up and polished. It gives the song a cleaner, even more upbeat feel, and it might even be better than the original.
2. Washed Out – “New Theory (RAC Remix)”
Chillwave aficionado Washed Out is king of the laid back swag. His drippy, dreamy creations are perfect for soundtracking a nighttime under the stars or a sunset session just off the coast. RAC saw it fit to not mess too much with this mastered piece of relaxation, choosing instead to only add subtle complimentary components like a crisp plinking piano riff to contrast the hypnotizing fuzzy bongs that underpin the track.
1. Foster The People – “Houdini (RAC Remix)”
Foster The People and 2011 had a very productive and well-documented romantic relationship with one another. If “Pumped Up Kicks” was the song that bought the Benz, it’s tracks like “Houdini” that ensure the gas tank stays full. Never one to mess up a good thing, the RAC boys simply smoothed out the punching drum beat and high pitched squeaks of the original with a futuristic synth technique of their own.