ASUW Arts and Entertainment set up a successful UW On Campus Fan Activation event today in Red Square for artist Mondo Cozmo. The event was a banner signing for their new single, “Shine”. The banner read: “Everything Will Be Alright If You #LETITGOMC” and had space for passersby to write what they wanted to let go. By the end of the signing, the banner was full of a variety of responses, from “Harambe”, “chem” and “Nickleback” to more serious things, like “fear”, “stress”, and “doubt”. During the event, people commented that writing down what they wanted to let go was “therapeutic” for them. Finding the banner seemed to be good timing for many students currently feeling the stress of midterms and the nearing end of the quarter. Several people posted to twitter with the hashtag #Letitgomc and took photos with their contributions to the banner.
“Shine” has been gaining praise and popularity since its release in September. Republic Records posted an artist spotlight on Mondo Cozmo on September 16th, 2016. The article included praise for “Shine” and said, “Mondo Cozmo challenges everything we know about music and genres, while creating music that everyone can enjoy.”
You can find more info on Mondo Cozmo on their website.
Supermodel is the second full studio album by L.A. based band Foster The People, released in 2014. Their 2011 debut studio album, Torches, was an indie pop hit that first allowed the band to gain a following. This album produced the popular songs “Pumped Up Kicks”, “Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls)”, and “Helena Beat”.
The band began stirring up hype for Supermodel in July 2014 with the creation of a giant mural in Los Angeles, depicting the album cover art. There was a legal hitch though, and the band was eventually forced to paint over the mural and restore the building to its original state only a few months after its creation. They featured one of the songs from the album, “Coming of Age”, which was also released as a single before the album was released, in a timelapse video of the mural being painted. Since the mural was painted over, there was talk of creating another mural in L.A., but as of yet nothing has come to fruition despite support from the Los Angeles mayor.
Supermodel comes across as a slowed down version of Torches at some points, especially with “Nevermind” and “Pseudologia Fantastica”. These songs have the distorted, busy noise of “Helena Beat” and “Houdini” from Torches, without the catchy tunes. The album is homogenous throughout for the most part, which is consistent with a distinct Torches-esque sound. However, it ends with a change of pace, the stripped down “Fire Escape”. The lyrics in songs throughout the album are full of meaning and drama, but “Fire Escape” is one of the few that matches the emotional themes of the lyrics. The line “I see the seasons change, and all the young faces come and replace the dying ones”, goes flawlessly with the slower, quiet guitar and haunting vocals from lyricist and singer Mark Foster. The beautiful background vocals come through and are emphasized by not matching the timing of the lead vocals in the lyrics “Save yourself, save yourself” during the chorus. “Goats in Trees” is another slowed down, distorted, vocal-heavy track, which includes the lines “No I never wanted to be like them / I thought I was just too clever to be brought down to their level / Of misfortuned chagrin”. These lyrics reflect some of the themes of the album, including Foster’s outlook on consumerism and self worth through media.
Foster The People have been mostly out of the spotlight since the end of their Summer 2015 tour for Supermodel. The band released tracks “Ruby” and “The Unforeseeable Fate of Mr. Jones” in December of 2015, teasing a yet-to-be-named third album in the works. Their sophomore album has not made as big of a splash in the mainstream as Torches, which put the band on the map in the first place, but fans are definitely waiting eagerly for whatever they put out next.
Notable tracks from Supermodel include “Are You What You Want to Be?”, “Coming of Age” and “Best Friend”.
Foster The People- “Coming of Age” Mural Time Lapse Video
Fellow Huskies, do you have a case of the winter blues? Are you already using sunbreaks as an excuse to skip class? Feeling an overwhelming urge to go south? As The Mamas & The Papas famously sang in “California Dreamin’”, “All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey… I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A.”
Bad news: There’s more rain in the forecast. Good news: I’ve compiled a playlist that might help you mentally escape the drizzle! This playlist is made up of some rad songs and artists that take their inspiration from early 60’s surf bands like The Beach Boys and Dick Dale. I hope it invokes memories of sun and sand and water that doesn’t fall from the sky. Cowabunga, dude.
With the year winding down and no huge pop-punk releases on the radar in the near future, I thought I’d go through my top 5 albums of the year for the genre. Let’s do it to it.
5. The Story So Far – Self-Titled
I’ll be honest, this record had to grow on me. The
Story So Far’s third offering sounded like it was too much of the same, like
the band didn’t show enough growth from their previous albums. I still do think
that to a certain extent, but eventually the album just kind of clicked with
me. The lead single, “Nerve”, and songs like “Heavy Gloom” will get your blood
pumping with vocalist Parker Cannon’s machine gun-like delivery of scathing
lyrics. Hopefully in the future they’ll mix it up a little bit, but for the
time being you can still count on The Story So Far to make you feel a little bit
better about that breakup you’re probably going through.
4. Knuckle Puck – Copacetic
Copacetic is a solid release from Chicago’s Knuckle Puck. After a string of excellent EP’s, the band finally released their
first full-length this year. Relatively new to the scene, there’s no doubt the
band will see a rise in popularity due to killer tracks like “Pretense” and “Disdain”.
The songs are angsty, emotional, and hard-hitting. The one criticism I have is
that I don’t love the production on the album. I think it’s a little
over-produced. Nonetheless, it’s totes worth a listen if you love pop-punk with
a hardcore influence.
3. Neck Deep – Life’s Not Out to Get You
This is about as “pop-punk” of a record as you
can get. I like the message in the album title. Maybe it’s the demographic, but
sometimes it seems like bands in this genre are in a competition to see who can
feel the sorriest for themselves, so it’s nice to see a decidedly mature
message from Wales’ Neck Deep. They’re definitely the UK’s flagship band in
the pop-punk scene, and that won’t be changing any time soon with this fun
2. The Wonder Years – No Closer to Heaven
I’m biased because I think The Wonder Years are
far and away the best band in the pop-punk genre this decade, but this is
definitely one of my favorite albums of the year. No Closer to Heaven is their 5th
album and you get the sense that the boys from South Philly have grown up quite
a bit. Vocalist and lyricist Dan “Soupy” Campbell yet again crafts incredible
lyrics, showcased on songs like “Cigarettes and Saints”. This is not a
feel-good record, far heavier than their previous releases in both lyrical
content and instrumentation.
1. Turnover – Peripheral Vision
I feel like it’s cheating to put this album on a
pop-punk list, but Turnover started out as a pop-punk band, so we’re going with
it. Peripheral Vision, the band’s third album, is just fantastic. There’s no
other way to say it. What’s amazing is that it’s such a huge departure from
their previous work. It’s almost as if The Cure and Title Fight had a baby. Haunting lyrics
and swirling dream pop-esque guitars combine to make one of the most
interesting records of the year. Do yourself a big favor and give it a listen.
RAC lights up with a live band at ShowBox SoDo on Tuesday, Nov. 24th
Light keyboard filled the air and a soft beat emitted from the over-leveled speakers. With only half the room filled, the music blasted through the Showbox, piercing the silence until the crowd settled into the sound. The first opener, filouspulled out his guitar, bowed his head slightly and riffed over a reverberating female vocalist. The two instruments together, a midi setup and fx-ed guitar sounded like a chorus of chilled-out house music.
“Hey Seattle,” the beanie-sporting artist spoke before returning to his instruments. A faint cheer could be heard from the bar in the back.
Not phased by the crowd’s lack of enthusiasm, Filous strummed along to dance-worthy tracks. Smiling all the while, the casually-dressed multi-instrumentalist switched between MIDI controllers, keyboards and his various guitars. As he slammed on the bass, the crowd swayed and lights flashed before us.
Filous introduced himself as an artist from Vienna. Over a few spouts of laughter, he further explained his adventures at Jack in The Box before playing his next song, “Coming Over” – a synth-heavy sound featuring the same summery guitar riffs that had been heard frequently throughout the set.
Light lyrics sprinkled throughout the song and the line, “All I can think about is coming over” repeated into a somewhat-tropical instrumental chorus. The hook brought many to the dance floor and the strobes shimmered among us. With all of his talents, I got to wondering why the microphone was placed so properly as if it’d be used whilst playing. All my questions were answered in a single breath as Filous pulled out a harmonica for his last track – blowing us away with his breath-induced harmonies.
filous wowed us with flawless multi-instrumentalism
After a short break, two musicians approached the stage. Both on drums, the two multi-instrumentalists represented the Portland-based Karl Kling. Arpeggios filled the air and a dimly lit duo sang indulgent lyrics over two sets of electronic instruments. A light up set of tools stood adjacent to a traditional drumset as the two musicians harmonized with one another.
We moved our bodies back and forth and a few other audience members joined us. Although I wasn’t there alone, I couldn’t help but notice the sheer amount of standing that took place during this show. Of course, I could chalk it up to the fact that we were watching an opener, but since this is my last post for Rainy Dawg Radio, I thought I’d mention something that’s been bothering me since I moved into this city and began participating in the music scene:
Why don’t Seattle Concert-goers ever dance during openers?!
Their music is good. The dance floor is ready! If anybody has an answer to this question, myself and all of the touring artists in our area would like to know… Synced beneath the falsettos as the two men expressed themselves among a sea of careless Seattleites. Catchy riffs soared beneath existential lyricism as the band showed off their chops, from drums to loops and electric guitars, the multi-talented Portland band never ceased to amaze us.
Yet most of the audience remained unfazed while my date and I swayed just the same. Harder now. Deeper now. The harmonies seemed to strike nearer than before. Perhaps the volume kept increasing but something about the atmosphere above us kept me present as the fog filled the air and the band requested a dimming of the lights.
“Alright Seattle. This is dance time,” Karl attempted to work the crowd. But only a few cheers could be heard in response as many audience members lingered in the back – bobbing their head to the rhythm instead of shaking what their mamas gave them.
“So dust of your regrets” Kling sang, “Cus there goes the day again. Born into this world.”
Karl Kling sported two drummers and a sounded like Death Cab in a dance club
80s melodies and melancholy choruses led from one song into the next as the opening set came and went. During their last song, “Careful” the duo smiled as they witnessed some energy beginning to emit from the evening’s underwhelming attendees. As Big Data prepared their set, I prayed for a miracle that the dance floor would pick up.
Fog filled the air and screams rang out in support of the surreal visuals that began to appear so subtly behind a coordinated set of electronic musicians. A robotic voice could be heard from the pumped-up speakers and the band members began to move in tandem to a static beat. Almost inaudible, a set of muted vocals began to sing the opening lines of “Dangerous” and the crowd finally moved in-tow to the enthralling rhythm.
The two vocalists played off of one another flawlessly. Each computerized run ran into the next as the lights glimmered among us. The music enticed us to engage as Big Data entertained with alluring visuals above driving drums and guitars; all the while the two frontmen acted as conductors of the crowd below them.
Bobbing their heads back and forth to the ephemeral sound of their own creation, the crashes and clangs of the live instrumentation filled the set beneath layers of enchanting lyricism. All the while, the audience followed along in a daze, drunk in the sound of a presented simulation.
References to a computerized system filled the breaks between songs until the word, “Imagination” broke the sequence, “Your simulation is now complete.” The robotic voice complimented our enthusiasm as the lights reflected off the band-member’s florescent sunglasses.
As the lights continued to dim, the combination of the visual and musical performances pulled us in to a videogame-like trance – complete with the sounds of dial-up modems and mid-2000s internet references. Throughout the set, Big Data did nothing but entertain as our eyes reflected the shimmering stage above us.
With flashing lights and surreal digital visuals, Big Data drew the crowd ever-closer in a existential haze
Members of the other bands and backstage crew joined the band as they repeated their hit track, “Dangerous”
The crowd cheered and familiar faces replaced the physical places of Big Data’s digital revolution. Karl Kling and André Anjos (RAC) stood left and right of a headband-wearing frontman. Behind them, Pink Feathers (aka Liz Anjos) rocked out on a keyboard while a full-sized drumset stood lit and elevated above.
We moved in waves as the live band played covers and originals frequently associated with RAC’s collection of (re)mixes. Hiding behind a telecaster, André occasionally sang along and smiled all the while Pink Feathers and Karl Kling led the upbeat performance. The collection of Portland artists did not disappoint as the crowd sang along to their favorite tracks. From Odeszato The Postal Service, local hits were met with more energy from the audience as the four-piece band reworked popular songs with their disco-inspired beats.
“Hollywood” and “Let it Go” were met with thunderous applause as André stepped out into the center to wail over the beat with his electric guitars. The foursome played off each other splendidly, cracking jokes and smiling along to the energy brought from playing their songs live.
André Anjos leads his live band, shredding along with a pulsating performance
After seeing RAC in the past and wondering when he would break out from behind his turntables, I was inspired and impressed by the entire performance! Altogether, the variety of bands made for an excellent combination of Portland sounds that was able to break through the ever-famous Seattle Freeze.
This week I’m super excited to talk about two of my favorite
things: music and books. Seattle’s own Bushwick
Book Club is like nothing you’ve ever heard of before. The premise is that
different musicians write a song inspired by a book and then the songs are performed
live and compiled onto albums.
The first version of the book club actually started all the way
over on the other side of the country in Bushwick, Brooklyn. A woman by the
name of Susan Hwang came up with the idea in 2009 and Geoff Larson, current
executive director of the local branch, brought it to Seattle a year later. I
spoke with him a little and he explained to me that the Book Club is a mainly
volunteer-run organization. This year
alone, more than 100 volunteers worked hard in order to connect artists with
authors, make music, and put on shows.
If you want a taste of what they do, check out The Bushwick
Book Club Seattle Volume I, a compilation of songs that you can download
for free right here.
One of my personal favorites off the album is “Zombie
Reagan” by Mike Votava. It’s inspired by People’s History of the United
States, and if that sounds familiar to you, you’ve probably taken a history
class in the past five years. The book is known for debunking American ideas and
flipping what we know about the past on its head. It’s also known for stressing
out students and prompting essay after essay after essay. If the book (or history
in general) still haunts you, this song can soothe your soul, or at least make
history a little bit funnier.
Some other really good songs are “Little Boy” and “That’s It” by Tai
Shan. They’re inspired by The Shining and contrast the images of horror with an
easygoing, folksy vibe. Never has The Shining sounded so peaceful. They’re both on Room 217, a separate album devoted
entirely to The Shining, and it’s definitely worth a listen (or ten).
If you have ever wished that your books came
with a soundtrack, the Bushwick Book Club is the thing for you. Not big on
books? That’s totally okay, listen to a couple songs anyway. All of them are
pretty good at standing on their own. Take “Queen of Hearts” by Debbie Miller for example.
Luckily, they’re big on events and the next one is coming up on December 11th. It’s being held at the Hugo House, right here in
Seattle, and some great new music is bound to come out of it.
Overall, the Bushwick Book Club is a really cool
idea and I’m a little upset I didn’t come up with it myself.
If a new American Pie
movie were to be made today, Canada’s up-and-coming Seaway would write the soundtrack. Colour Blind is the band’s sophomore album and their first full-length
release for Pure Noise Records, and
it’s definitely one of the year’s best pop-punk releases.
Pop-punk exploded in the mid-to-late 2000’s and, like most
of us, you probably got sick of it. But in the past few years the genre has
seen what could almost be called a re-birth. You’ve got everything from bands
like The Story So Far and Knuckle Puck combining the grit of hardcore
with pop-punk to groups like The Front
Bottoms who put a folk-esque twist on the genre. While the music’s great,
it seems like so much of it lacks the fun
that used to be such a staple of the genre.
That’s where Seaway’s got you covered.
What makes Seaway unique is that they harken back to the pop-punk of the early
2000’s. Remember the days when you’d hear blink-182
and Sum 41 at the mall? From the
start of Colour Blind you’ll
instantly feel like you’re back in that mall jamming to “Fat Lip” over the PA. These
songs aren’t out to make you sad. They’re for blasting on your way to a party
where you hope you don’t hurt yourself doing a keg stand. A few of the standout
tracks are “Best Mistake”, “Still Weird”, and “Turn Me Away”.
The lead single for the album, “Freak”, is the best of the bunch. It kicks off with a beautiful guitar riff and leads into an intro that will make you want to
stop whatever you’re doing and find the nearest available mosh pit.
For some, the nostalgia-factor may come across a little shtick-y,
but I enjoy it. The video for “Best Mistake” bombards you with everything it meant to be
a Canadian kid growing up in the late 90’s. Some of the video’s references
might be lost on Americans, but those of us south of the border will still eat
up the Drake/Degrassi cameo and the old videogame references.
The lyrics, while undoubtedly catchy, aren’t exactly
groundbreaking. The subject matter for most of the songs is your standard
pop-punk fare (girls, not fitting into the crowd, etc.). Sometimes a strong vocal delivery
can make up for less-than-innovative lyrics though, and I think this is where Seaway
really shines on this record. When Ryan Locke, the vocalist with the deeper register,
belts out the chorus to “Airhead” or the outro of “Stubborn Love”, you can
really feel the raw emotion behind the words.
In a style similar to Taking Back Sunday or Four Year Strong (Alan Day of Four Year
Strong was actually one of the producers of the album), the band features two
vocalists who often trade lines back and forth throughout the songs. “Turn Me
Away” is the best example of what can happen when the dual vocals are used
right, and when it works it sounds great.
While this record doesn’t exactly push any boundaries musically or lyrically, it’s just so damn fun. Look for Seaway to make a big splash in the pop-punk scene with this solid release.
recently came across this track through a good friend of mine, and I’m in love
with everything about it. It’s dreamy, airy, and a lyrical trip. “Alien” dips
deep into a world of fantastical possibilities, swirling around the concept of
a futuristic lover, something that the singer Raye found, well, alien.
spoke about how she came across the idea for the song in an interview with WeAreGoingSolo: “I have such a cold rational way of thinking about love and
sharing happiness, but this song is almost like a dream I would have. Someone
coming along to redefine my perspective. Alien had to be the perfect word to
describe this whole feeling, because the whole idea is so alien to me.”
thought process really shines through on the track, taking the listener on a
journey; the smooth production transports you to a foreign landscape, but the
lyrics make it feel familiar.
“Cause I, I do not know this place But why do I feel so safe out here… I’m feeling so lost in space round here… I think it’s gonna be OK When I see your face, when I see your face”
is a rising underground London artist, with both “Alien” and “Bet You Wish”
slowly gaining traction in the electronic R&B scene. She recorded her first
EP “Welcome to the Winter” when she was 17, and shortly after signed with
Polydor Records. With no intention of stopping, Raye is bound to make waves in
the near future, and I hope to hear more of her music soon.
Last month when I
went to UW’s Fall Fling, a concert to welcome students to the university, I had
never heard of the three artists set to play. Armed with a couple of friends
and the excitement of a first-week college student, I went anyway. Seattle
locals Brother From Another had the show off to a great start, and Cashmere Cat’s
blasting electronic beats had people screaming for more; but I have to say that
the second act of the day, Ryn Weaver, completely stole the show. Her
folksy-pop vibe got people standing up and swaying while her banter between
songs made it feel like she was an old friend just visiting you at college.
The first song
that really got me paying attention was “OctaHate”, which you may have already
heard of when it climbed both the Billboard and Twitter charts in June 2014. It
can only be described as a “classy dance song” that’s bound to impress people
of any music taste.
I also have to
mention “Sail On”, which will for sure be stuck in your head for the rest of
the day but you won’t even mind it. If you ever have the chance to hear it
live, just go and don’t question it.
And like any
great artist, she has a solid tear-jerker in her repertoire. “Traveling Song”,
dedicated to her grandpa, is the perfect track to listen to if you ever feel
like wallowing in your homesickness. Just make sure you have a box of tissues
at the ready.
is the seemingly impossible combination of a more chill Blondie, a less
punk-rock Hayley Williams, and Florence (minus the Machine).
If you love the
songs as much as I do, check out her full-length album The Fool, packed with eleven songs destined to make it on to your favorites playlist.
It’s 10 minutes before the interview and my phone rings to my dismay. The basement of Winkenwerder was not where I wanted to talk shop with one of my favorite musicians. But there I stood, with a piece of TP in one hand and a buzzing cell phone in the other.
“Shit,” I mutter – fully intending my pun as I answer the Texas caller ID.
“Hi, I’m calling for your interview with André. I know it’s not for another ten minutes but he’s ready now and we’d love to get started.”
“Of course!” I grin as it starts to feel real. Standing with my pants half-pulled up, I remember my situation. “Erm… Can I call you back in 5 minutes? I just need to get everything set up.”
“Yeah sure. I’ll call you then.” Click.
I fasten my belt, swing my pack over my shoulder and head out into the hallway – frantic to find a spot to sit in relative silence. Behind a giant stump that looks like it was cut from a forest a millennia ago, I slump over and attempt to set up my audio recording equipment before my phone rings again.
“Ready?” He asks.
“Ready as I’ll ever be,” I respond with slight hesitation as my recording fails to start. A familiar voice is heard on the line and some light indie rock can be heard in the background.
It’s about time Portland grew up
From his home studio in Portland, Oregon, André Anjos talks about the last six years of his life living in the eccentric city. “I feel like a local,” he states first off, “and I love it here.” He goes on to explain that the city has been changing “like crazy” just like the Bay Area and Seattle. Referencing a recent trend in real-estate listings, he laughs about seeing “No California”-stickers, “as if that would dissuade people from moving here.”
Photo courtesy of Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
“People are complaining,” he goes on to mention. “They’re saying that a lot of things that made Portland unique is getting lost.” Although he really has appreciated the “amazing food” and “interesting things” in the city, André wants Portland to grow up a bit. Hesitating, he puts off the rest of his answer – stating that he might have a better opinion in a couple of years.
Portland, prisons and college
“Everything post-college has been here in Portland,” André goes on to say. “Well, sort of. I spend more time at the airport than at home.” We laugh.
“A couple of friends moved here.” His buddy, Karl Kling, had a girlfriend out here in college and they had a place to move. Rent was “cheap” – at the time it was $500 a month. Coming from a life at Greenville College in Illinois, this was quite the change.
“Three thousand people in the town were prison inmates and they counted that as part of the population,” he laughs. “It was a very small town and a dry town!” He had never heard of something like that before, especially since coming from Portugal, where the drinking age is fourteen.
When asked about his major, André couldn’t help but make a few jokes. “I got a music business degree, which is hilarious.” Greenville college was in the middle of nowhere and the Portugal native decided to learn about music from a bunch of old Illinoisans. “Maybe some basic knowledge came in handy,” he continues, trying to give some credit to his education. “But the music industry changes every year and you’re learning information that’s five years old in college.”
So, in school, he learned how the music industry used to work. “I guess you could say I earned a music business history major,” we laugh again.
The idea of RAC, what happened to the collective
“From the beginning, we wanted to be a group of people that all do remixes under one name,” he explained. “We could gather some talent and do it as a group as opposed to an individual person doing on your own.”
“How did that work out?” I asked, already knowing the answer.
“You know when you’re in a group project and you’re the one person doing it all?” He asked rhetorically. “Well, I was doing it all. A lot of people had jobs and real obligations – I was just in school.” So André took over the project and started doing everything under the same name, Remix Artist Collective.
“The name stuck and I kind of ignored it. When I started touring, I brought Karl who started DJing with me.” The definition of the name, he went on to explain had started changing during those tours until it stopped meaning anything. As he moved into producing original music, it ceased to make any sense but, “at one point,” he explains, “I decided that I spent six years of my life building this brand… I’m just gonna stick with it.”
“It’s called RAC,” he concludes. “It doesn’t mean anything – it doesn’t matter.”
Now that things have developed and he’s become a writer of original music, the name has unintentionally become a point of confusion. He’s now writing with other people, covering tracks with his wife and has even produced original music for the HBO series, Entourage.
Independence, album woes and staying relevant
"I feel like I put out a track every week,” André says. “A lot are remixes but… it’s just easier to focus on a song at a time and just put [that one] out.” Since recording his album in 2011 and having to wait three years for the record label to approve the content for legal and distribution reasons, RAC has taken a step back from the traditional record deal.
“After the album came out, I didn’t really feel like it was relevant to do that in 2015,” he says of the album’s long release schedule. As of June 2015, a month after getting out of his contract, André has been dropping music at least once a month with a staggered release schedule. From single tracks to lyric videos, these regular releases are his way of “keeping [his] head above the noise.”
“There’s a lot of amazing work, and a lot of mediocre work out there… [the internet] is so incredibly saturated [with it]. Fortunately, a thing I got used to with remixes is getting to do things very quickly.” Despite the constant work, André is satisfied with this new methodology as, “with a waiting period that was once three years is now two months at the most.”
When discussing the success of his album, he reminisced but responded contritely, “the music doesn’t represent who I am anymore. You have three years of built-up expectations and when they don’t go in [the way you want], it’s so frustrating.”
Making music, with new singles and successes
Last month’s single, “3AM feat. Katie Herzig” (embedded below) has been quite the success – garnering almost half a million plays in the weeks since its release. When I asked him how he felt about this, André answered estatically, “I feel like we’re gaining momentum and people are catching on to what we’re doing. We compare numbers a lot since we’re doing things independently. Keeping my eye on it [lets me] make sure things are going well. I think it’s been a very fun game to get into that that, [especially] in these last couple of tracks.”
With all the data analysis that he and his team had been doing, I followed up by asking why he still makes music. Despite a somewhat-programmatic release schedule and metrics to understand their success, RAC manages to keep the soul in the music.
“So who do you make music for then?” I asked, “Your numbers? Your fans? Yourself?”
“Myself,” André answered, “Absolutely.” Stating that he continues to make music “purely for [his] own entertainment,” the man just wants to be happy with what he does. As it turns out a big part of him being happy is making others happy!
“I’m not just stroking my beard, happily listening to my own music,” he says. “For one, I don’t have a beard and I see it as kind of a game and it’s my job and it’s something to have fun with.” His goal is to “keep going” as he’s noticed the music is “creating an outlet for this weird desire [to] ‘have to make music’ and want[ing] to keep that going.”
“Part of growth is being heard and having people listen to your music,” he says. For André it seems that this is the core of the game. “Artists that say it doesn’t affect them are lying,” he continues. “If a lot of people are stoked about your song, it really affects you.”
In regards to his fans, he said “it feels good when sometimes people will leave really kind messages like, ‘hey this helped me out during this time of my life’.” He hears me smile through the phone and continues, “I don’t sit down and write songs to help people in that way, but it’s a really nice validation.”
Building a synth and making some music
In addition to his solo work as RAC, André still finds time to record music with his wife, Liz. “There was this goal on the surface to release [them] as a free track to celebrate when we hit milestones on social media,” he says of the covers (check them out on soundcloud). “There’s obviously a selfish side of it and it’s a fun project.” Aside from the benefits of recording for fun, he also has been grateful for the opportunity to be creative in a way he hadn’t tried before. “Working with Liz is also really fun,” he sums up, “even though we live together, we rarely collaborate.”
In his home studio in Portland, the electronic musician mostly uses physical instruments, “whether that’s a synth, drum machine, guitar, bass… I have a lot of toys and I just work [here],” he says. “It’s a really nice balance with the touring and, when I’m not touring, it’s good to be home.”
When it comes to his own production, André just “feels more comfortable” playing an instrument rather than programming music on the computer. “You can create exclusive items that you just can’t make on a computer since most people don’t have [the same] instrument,” he explains. “You create a unique sound that’s impossible to replicate.”
“The problem is that I can’t work when I’m travelling,” he continues. “I can’t fix a mix or something when I’m on the road, which can be frustrating.” Despite his long time spent on the road, the remix artist still finds time to come home and write original music on his modular synthesizer. “I’m a building a modular synth,” he says excitedly. “It started with one box and now I have five. It’s so much fun and it’s so nerdy!”
Yet the synthesizer has been more than a toy in André’s creative process. With it’s inspirational aesthetic and pleasantly unique sound, the modular synth has become a “magical machine”:
You turn the lights on and it’s blinking. It gets really heady sometimes when I have to think about every wire. But it creates a situation where a lot of unexpected things can happen. Most of the time they’re very positive things, like happy accidents – you can stumble upon a sound. It’s a magical machine. There’s so much potential that sometimes it’s too much… but it’s great because of that.
After geeking out about gear, it’s easy to become existential in describing the sound of an instrument. So André concludes, “I’m very into the studio and that whole process. I’d say I probably enjoy recording music just as much as I do writing it.”
Inspiration and dedication, some advice for new artists
The PR rep’s voice came over the line, “Hey guys. We’re running kind of behind so this could be the last question or so.” Looking at my notes, I grew excited as I read, “Which relatively new musicians have you been listening to or enjoying lately?”
Immediately, André answered, “A decent amount of people know Pomo. He’s a guy from Montreal and it’s just a breath of fresh air compared to the EDM, droning military march stuff. I really like it. His remixes are really top notch and I always check them out and add them to our set.”
I followed up by asking what advice he could give new electronic artists. He answered:
I think it’s important to learn how a lot of these sounds are created, specifically for electronic artists. If you learn the basics and understand synthesis, it’s going to go a long way. You can’t do the production tricks if you don’t know it. Learn the basics of recording and avoid presets. They are an easy way to get a specific sound that sounds good but then there’s everybody else and they’re using the same thing. If you can distance yourself from that and try creating sounds from scratch, [you’ll find] you’ll especially know what you’re doing.
Another line could be heard coming into the phone call and André began to quickly finish up. “Musicians need to beat themselves,“ he said. "You don’t want to be somebody else since they already exist. You can be inspired by other people, but try to do something that, personally, you’d be.”