|Origin||Brixton, United Kingdom|
|Genres||Electronic music, Turntablism, Plunderphonics|
|Labels||Barry's Bootlegs, Spymania, Antidote|
Cassetteboy are an English electronic music and comedy duo. The pair have achieved success with their cut-ups of celebrities such as Alan Sugar and David Cameron to make parodies of their subjects. Several of the duo's videos have gone viral, with up to 5 million views on YouTube. Despite their success, Cassetteboy made no money from their videos due to their questionable legal status, until a revision of UK copyright law in 2014.
Cassetteboy is a duo of Michael Bollen and Steve Warlin, though the pair prefer to remain anonymous. Bollen has worked writing audio captions for the blind, while Warlin has worked in an art gallery.
The duo's name comes from the use of audio cassette in their early work. Their musical approach can be traced from the origins of sampling, musique concrète and Plunderphonics. Most pieces are constructed from numerous audio and video snippets taken from TV, radio, film and popular music; The Parker Tapes was constructed using the laborious, primitive process of manually splicing segments of audio together via a two-deck tape system, or ghettoblaster; later albums are constructed digitally using sound editing software.
The duo formed in the mid-1990s as a hobby, making mixtapes for friends. They started adding humorous material between music, which ultimately took up so much time that they moved over to comedy full-time. Their initial appearance was on the Di and Dodi Do Die 7" Record released in 2000 on the Spymania offshoot Barry's Bootlegs. As well as producing two albums of their own, they have appeared on an album with DJ Rubbish entitled Inside A Whale's Cock Vol 1, which includes humorous cover versions of songs by Alanis Morissette and Jennifer Lopez (a skiffle cover of Jenny from the block), along with a parodical take on a song by The Streets. Their 2008 album, Carry On Breathing, was a concept album that "tells the story of human life through the medium of Eastenders samples".
In 2008, Bollen released Earth Inc., a satirical novel about consumerism. The book took six and a half years to write.
In 2008, the duo progressed to using videos and the internet, in order to teach themselves video editing. They initially struggled with new technology; the "Cassetteboy" page on Facebook and feed on Twitter were owned by other people. The first video uploaded to YouTube was a mashup of then Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
In 2009, they released Cassetteboy vs The Bloody Apprentice, a parody of the UK version of The Apprentice, primarily featuring the mashed-up dialogue of Alan Sugar. As of October 2014, the video has had over 5 million views on YouTube. Sugar says he has watched the video, while Apprentice judge Nick Hewer declared himself to be a fan of it. In 2010, a video clip by Cassetteboy appeared on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross using further clips of Sugar. In December 2014, the duo created a sequel to the video from later series of The Apprentice.
Cassetteboy contributed some of the video clips for spoof clip show 2009 Unwrapped with Miranda Hart, and is credited on at least one episode of BBC Radio 4's spoof clippings show Listen Against. In 2010, the duo helped judge entries for London Recut, a project to encourage amateur filmmakers to produce their own work about the city.
In October 2014, Cassetteboy released "Cameron's Conference Rap", featuring cut-up clips of British Prime Minister David Cameron speaking at the annual Conservative Party Conference, set to Eminem's "Lose Yourself". During the following week, the video was viewed 3.5 million times, while Cameron's official speech video only had 44,000.
The duo have started to perform live concerts, which feature a variety of video mashups and other satirical material. They favour performing pop hits with additional voices for humorous effect, such as 50 Cent's "In Da Club" with Jeremy Paxman overdubbed. They have made several appearances at the Glastonbury Festival and appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with DJ Rubbish.
The context of their work is often political, but always maintains a humorous aspect. The duo describe themselves as left-leaning politically and think that "it’s good to have a point of view and too much comedy these days is bland and inoffensive". They are opposed to copyright law, saying that they could only have ever achieved popularity by creating works that violate copyright. The legal situation means that they have made no money from their videos despite millions of views. The duo have been approached by advertising agencies to make videos, but have been forced to refuse due to the resulting work being illegal.
In 2014, Cassetteboy welcomed a change in UK law that allows portions of works to be reused for satirical or parody purposes. In an interview for The Guardian, Cassetteboy said "There’s obviously public demand for our videos, but it was more or less impossible for people to pay us to actually make them". The duo compared themselves to Harry and Paul's parody of Dragon's Den, noting that the content was similar but the legal status significantly different. They take an ambivalent attitude towards copyright infringement as it prevents them from being paid while also allowing them to create work for free, and believe it cannot be effectively controlled.
- The Parker Tapes 2002, Barry's Bootlegs/Spymania
- Festive Christmas 2002, Barry's Bootlegs
- Inside a Whale's Cock Vol 1 2003, Barry's Bootlegs
- Dead Horse 2005, Barry's Bootlegs
- Mick's Tape 2005, Antidote
- Carry On Breathing 2008, Barry's Bootlegs
- "Cassetteboy Discography at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-05-01.
- Jones, Alice (9 October 2014). "Cassetteboy interview: How I upstaged the Prime Minister with 'Cameron's Conference Rap'". Retrieved 27 January 2015.
- Perraudin, Frances (10 October 2014). "Cassetteboy: 'David Cameron won't be pleased by our video'". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
- Pellatt, Corey (4 December 2013). "Interview : Cassetteboy". SQ Magazine. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
- "Inside a Whales Cock, Vol. 1". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
- "EARTH Inc". Picnic Publishing. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
- "It's the blaady Apprentice: Lord Sugar's best boardroom moments". The Daily Telegraph. 22 October 2014.
- Barrell, Ryan (12 December 2014). "Cassetteboy Takes On 'The Apprentice'... Again (NSFW)". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
- Listen Against programme with Cassetteboy credit (Quote: "Listen Against ... Camera supervisors were ... Gareth Gwynn, and Cassetteboy" @ 28:30)
- Milazzo, Franco (11 June 2010). "Music Interview: Cassetteboy". The Londonist. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
- "Cassetteboy vs DJ Rubbish". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
- "Cassetteboy: 'Copyright mash-up law could go further'". BBC News. 29 September 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
- "Cassetteboy – Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
- Dahlen, Chris. 2002-12-06. The Parker Tapes. Pitchfork Media (Retrieved 2008-10-20)
- Horan, Tom. 2005-04-28. Pop CDs of the week: Mariza, Nitin Sawhney, José Gonzales, Cassetteboy and Teenage Fanclub. The Daily Telegraph (Retrieved 2008-10-20)