Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Interview with CassetteBoy

The questions I ask here may not be very relevant to people but I wanted to highlight the type of amazing people we get to contact through various projects. This is an interview for my dissertation with the infamous 'Cassetteboy', 04/01/12. The title of my essay was 'YouTube Poop; A new form of Cultural Capital?' (see YTP post for more details)

Have you heard of 'Youtube Poops'? would you consider your mashups one / Why?

I first heard of youtube poops this year I think, when someone referred to one of our videos as one.  It's not a term I like and would never use it myself.  I thought I hated the term Mash Up until I heard youtube poop, it's so dismissive and belittling - I mean it's got the word Poop in it.

Your work originated from audio mashups, do you feel the visual remix is just a manifestation of the audio mashup? What inspired you to start remixing?

When constructing a video, we still start with the audio, collecting words and phrases that might be useful.  So the audio is the most important element, because most of our jokes are still verbal.  often it's a case of "patching up" the visuals as best we can, trying to hide the edits in the soundtrack with reaction shots and so on, although of course this does give rise to some additional jokes.

We started cutting up audio when we used to make compilation tapes for our friends with funny little bits of dialogue between the music.  Eventually the funny little bits got more complicated and took over.  The move from there into video was a natural progression, a new challenge after years of audio-only work.

Why do you think Remixes are so successful these days?

I think there are various reasons.  Our type of remix has only become widely available recently - before the internet there was no real outlet for an artform that infringed copyright so blatantly, so there's still an air of novelty to the whole thing.  Because of the copyright issues, they feel a bit 'naughty', which is always popular.  Also, I think there's nice 'David vs. Goliath' aspect to them - people like the idea that a massive Hollywood franchise like Harry Potter can be taken apart by a normal person on their home computer.

Clearly your Nick Griffin mashup had an element of political drive in addition to humour. Do you aim to communicate anything with your other subject choices ie. Harry Potter/ Dragon's Den? and why do you think these characters work so well?

With our non-political work we're mainly celebrating celebrities we enjoy, or attacking those we don't.  We don't necessarily have an agenda, we focus on the jokes first and foremost.  As a whole though I guess there's an attempt to prick the pomposity of the rich and famous.  The people who take themselves too seriously are often the best targets, and the Dragons are a good example of that. 

You've progressed from 'mates just having a laugh' to owning a fan-base of over a million. As with many internet phenomena's it begins with a degree of rebellion & anti- commercialism. Do you feel collaborating with the BBC has taken away an element of this?

It is strange when something that started as a hobby becomes something approaching a job.  It's true that some creative compromises need to be made, although often limits can be good for creativity.  For example there used to be much less swearing in TV comedy, so the writers had to be far more creative and imaginative with their use of language than they are now, when they can just say "fuck" as much as they want.  Ultimately the commissioned pieces are a chance for our work to find a larger audience, and money that we earn this way can support us while we're making our own material, so i don't really see it as a bad thing.

Viral techniques, remixes & use of memes (created by the public) are used a lot in marketing tactics today. Do you feel there's a switch from a 'top-down' cultural production, or will it ultimately always be dictated to by higher powers?

I'm not sure if I have an answer for this one.  Our own work is reliant on 'higher powers' creating TV and movies that are widely recognised so we can subvert them.  I guess I think there will always be large TV and movie studios, and advertising budgets, but they will increasingly have to compete with stuff made by the public.  But people will always want to watch movies, and it's hard to make something feature length with no budget.

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