The full-length documentary follows Lou Ottens, one of the leading engineers at Philips when they created the first cassette tape and is featured during this year’s Florida Film Festival.
By Patrick Jude
I curl at the word “Millennial”, but people who use the word “Millennial” are astounded by the resurgence of vinyl records. Often missed though is the comeback of cassettes. It’s not uncommon at all now to see cassettes on touring bands merch tables, but the real comeback is being made on the local level. I spoke with Florida Film Festival filmmaker Zack Taylor about the cassette craze, and he gave us an inside look at his film “CASSETTE: A Documentary Mixtape”.
The full-length documentary follows Lou Ottens, one of the leading engineers at Philips when they created the first cassette tape. Somewhat ironically, Ottens sees the cassette comeback as silly and outdated. Director Zack Taylor explained it comically when he said “Lou is basically going back fifty years of his life, trying to understand why his invention won’t die”.
Throughout the film they meet and interview countless Punk legends; Henry Rollins, Ian MacKaye, Thurston Moore…and more. What was really cool to hear though, was how Taylor got in contact with them – “I pretty much just sent out emails, and checked for messages back. Everybody was real cool about it”.
Taylor went on to say that these guys genuinely are audiophiles, and they’re passionate about cassettes. In one of the film’s interviews, Thurston Moore recalls buying a massive boom box in order to accommodate for the lack of a tape deck in his tour van.
“It’s something you can hold, something you can put on the wall as a collection”, Taylor explains. We’ve reached peak efficiency with MP3 formatting, but lost is the tangibility. The allure of album art, and the concept of listening to an album all the way through as a complete piece, are lost with matter-less downloads. Cassette’s comeback counterpart, vinyl, lacks accessibility. With most albums ranging from $20-30, it’s hard to argue value, compared to an $8 cassette.
The cost efficiency has made tapes a popular form of distribution for independent musicians, especially in the Fuzz Punk and Indie circuits.
Does it really sound better though? At the end of the day, it’s all opinion. There’s no doubt that digital formatting is the most convenient method in terms of sound quality, but it lacks the feel of the studio. It’s something indescribable.
Taylor put it perfectly when he told me… “Analog doesn’t have the clarity, but it has the war
After a successful round in Europe, and its warm reception at Dallas International Film Festival, it was clear that Zack Taylor is very excited, and humbled by the film’s success.
“CASSETTE: A Documentary Mixtape” will be shown as part of the Florida Film Festival on April 23rd, 11:30 AM and again on April 27th, 9:30 PM at the Winter Park Village’s Regal Cinemas.
Born and raised in Orlando, Patrick Jude is a recent graduate of The University Of Central Florida. He holds a B.A. in English Literature as well as an A.A. in Jazz Performance. Jude enjoys performing, and is an active musician in Central Florida. As a member of The Getbye he fills the most glorified role of any band…Bass.