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A Happy Xmas with Cassetteboy

Posted 15 Dec 2009 by Cassetteboy

Our old friends, Cassetteboy are a secretive duo from Chelmsford, who re-edit and manipulate 'found' material. That's 'found' as in "I found it behind the back of a lorry, honest guv, I never nicked nothing." As said by Mark Cassette, who has been talking to us about combining words and music, while Steve Boy has been preparing some extra special Christmas treats for the Hear No Evil Guest Mix.

Cassetteboy have been going for about 15 years now. They started off making compilation tapes for friends, mainly of the best instrumental early to mid 90's electronica and techno tracks. Interspersed between the music were funny vocal sound bites, taken from the TV and radio, shows like Chris Morris's 'On The Hour' and 'The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy'. These samples helped give the tapes personality, atmosphere and eventually a weird kind of narrative and grammar. If they'd have been listening to guitar music around that time, Cassetteboy probably would never have happened, but because they liked tunes without lyrics, there was room to add something.

Over the years, the tapes got more and more complicated, and they broke many a cassette deck through over-use of the Record, Play and Pause buttons. The music all but disappeared as the vocal samples became more and more heavily edited, until they were creating pieces with an edit after every single word.

They soon started writing their own music and putting their own tracks beneath the funny samples was a revelation. When it works (which takes a painfully long time) the mix of music and spoken word is incredibly powerful. A dull-ish track is filled with life and attitude, while a so-so joke can be hilarious if the rhythm of the music supports the punchline. There's a reason why naff comedians had that little 'ba-dum-tish!' at the end of their jokes. When Cassetteboy layer speech and music they're basically just adopting a more sophisticated version of that technique. Putting vocals over music and tweaking the position of the vocals until both elements benefit is, for both Mark and Steve, the most enjoyable part of the whole process.

Eventually they abandoned the tapes and went digital. However, their background in linear tape editing still influences what they do and it's very much with a 'Musique concrète' sensibility that they now layer their satirical yet hysterical media commentaries.

And so, our good, old friends have kindly crafted a special Christmas podcast for us to give to you this year. It's a silly, smutty, festive extravaganza so find your headphones, and enjoy!

Look out for more from Cassetteboy in 2010.
Til next year.

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