Cassettes Won’t Listen

Chris Tapley 16/08/2009

Cassettes Won't Listen is the musical alias of Jason Drake, a multi instrumentalist DJ and producer from Brooklyn, New York. Under this guise he crafts hip hop infused electronica which combines memorable hooks with a deft experimental touch, which has seen him garner praise from everyone from SPIN to Perez Hilton. Cassettes Won't Listen recently released a new instrumental album, 'Into the Hillside' as well as an exclusive iphone remix application, I caught up with the man himself to find out a bit more.

How did you approach making Into the Hillside differently to your previous, non instrumental, records?

Into The Hillside was written and recorded during my recent move from Brooklyn to LA. It was quite a change in my life so it inspired me to put out a different type of record. I think it was less of me approaching the album than it was the album approaching me due to my new surroundings.

There's a big cross over of hip hop and electronica in your music, is something you consciously strive for, or does it come naturally?

It's all basically natural. I don't ever think about the genre before actually making the music. I grew up listening to a lot of hip hop so when I started making music I gravitated towards the genre. Once I learned a bit more about sampling and how I'd basically be screwing myself if I chose to sample other people's work, I gravitated to electronic music. You can hear that in today's hip hop. It's has much more of an electronic feel to it because no one can afford to clear samples anymore.

What kind of live set up do you work with?

I'm sort of in limbo right now when it comes to a live set up. I was doing a lot of shows that included synthesizers, guitar, midi controllers, Ableton Live, looping pedals, turntables, among some other random equipment. My shows are usually solo and I create the music with a lot of live looping so it usually means a lot of shit on stage with me. Right now Im working with Abelton Live, a Monome, an Akai MPK49, MPC1000, guitar and various pedals. Im heading in a direction that will be much more mobile so I can travel more than I have been.

You've done quite a few remixes, where do you stand on the debate as to whether people should be able to make something new from works they don't own the copyright for?

I'm 100% for it as long as the new work sets itself apart from the original. I love to sample and love to listen to sample based records but I make sure the original samples are cut up and effected to where they become new pieces of music. If you're not creative with your sampling then you don't deserve to sample.

You're pretty involved with Def Jux Records, but you release your records separately, any particular reason for this?

I like to keep the two separate and also like having the control over releasing my own music. Def Jux is primarily a hip hop label and I always felt my music would be an awkward fit.

What current artists do you think are making interesting music?

It's funny because I haven't been listening to a lot of music lately and when I do it is usually streaming radio. It's been a while since I actually bought a new album and been into it from beginning to end. I miss that and have been trying to get into some new artists lately. I just downloaded the new Ghostly app that allows you to pick a music stream solely based on your mood. I'm looking forward to getting into that one. But in terms of artists, the last album I bought was the latest Q-tip.

Could you tell us a bit more about the Iphone app, and what's the feedback been like on that?

The feedback on the app and my decision to go down the road of an interactive application has been great. The app features most of the tracks from the latest instrumental album and allows you to mix them together to make your own versions of the songs. I'll be using it as a platform to release new songs before they're released as singles or on albums in stores. It's exciting to be able to offer my music on a new platform and let fans actually interact with the music. It's something that has never really been done before.

You seem to be quite embracing of technology, both in terms of how you create music and then share it with people, what was the last bit of tech or website that amazed you?

I am and addict when it comes to technology. I regularly read and subscribe to Wired, Boing Boing, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Dvice, and a ton of other technology based websites. I think the latest form of technology that has really interested me has been Augmented Reality. If Apple allows programmers and designers the ability to created augmented reality iphone apps then the whole face of how people interact with their surrounding will change. For those who haven't heard of it, search 'augmented reality' on That shit will blow your mind.

What's your upcoming plans for Cassettes Won't Listen?

I just got back from an extended stay in Brooklyn and am back in LA. I have been preparing some ideas for the next record which will bring me back to singing and will have vocals on the majority, if not all, the tracks. I've also revived my old record label, Dope Lotus Records, and am in talks with a few artists about releasing some of their music. It's more of an artist collective than a record label where the artists keep their profits. So this next year is going to be a busy one.

Into The Hillside is out now