Get Familiar: La Cassette
Photography by Julia Huikeshoven
La Cassette is far from done and if you ask them it seems like they still got ways to go. Already with 4 years of community-building projects in their home base of Utrecht, they are about to start the next leg of their adventures in culture, music, arts and events so we sat down with Mees to get familiar with the crew.
How did La Cassette get started?
At first, Vincent and I were organizing another multidisciplinary festival but losing money every edition. We would max out our student loan and spend every last dime on organizing the damn thing. After three editions we were done and wanted to focus on our common passion which was hip hop. Right after the first edition, we fell in love with the crowd and noticed that Utrecht could really use us as community builders for a new group/crew/collective. Call it what you want. Starting a new era in the party scene. We decided to quit the festival once and for all and went on with our true passion - La Cassette. We’ve been doing it for 4 years now with a group that has been growing and growing, each member being passionate and caretaking. It’s awesome.
You have a relatively young squad, what is it about that youthful energy that makes La Cassette what it is?
As our vision suggests we’re ‘Far From Done’. Just a crew of youngins, one step on the right track, not really knowing which way we’re going but doing it together. Connecting musicians, writers, fashion designers, filmmakers and fellow organizers to create a creative and energetic community.
We, as La Cassette, will keep on generating spaces, and our community will fulfil the destinations. La Cassette embraces night culture, In the dark talent develops, friendships blossom and culture is born.
Did you also dub your own cassettes?
At the start, we did. Nowadays we use guest lists for our parties, but back in the days, we used to paint cassettes golden and hide them in local coffee shops, vinyl bars and vintage clothing stores. In that same era, we used to host a radio show over at Stranded FM with DJ’s like Mofro, Elvilia and Yung Furich. The recorded set would be dubbed on tapes. It would take hours to make like 50 tapes because the duration of the sets was around 90 min. 45min on Side A and 45 on Side B. At the office, we have a Technics Stereo Double Cassette Deck RS-B33W that can dub tapes with double speed so one tape would only cost 45 min to dub. That times 50 or more tapes… y’all do the math. Fun times.
What are the movie nights like?
Our goal for 2022 was to diversify the places where the community meets. A lot of the people who we’ve worked with (or still want to work with) are filmmakers, writers, directors, the whole shebang. With each movie night, we invite one of these talents and let them host/curate a night full of stuff they like and/or stuff they made. During the night Vincent, one of La Cassette's founders, sits down with the maker and asks all about the making process. With these nights we try to focus on the drive that these creatives have to offer. For example our most recent movie night with Camille Boumans. At 22 years old she decided to drop out of school to work on projects for companies like Nike, Adidas, UEFA and Young Capital. You can really feel her hunger to thrive. We want to endorse that hunger and take that energy she (and many other creatives) provides with us on our journey.
Entering the world of apparel back in 2021, La Cassette has now grown, how has your team grown and what can we expect from upcoming releases?
While we’ll keep on generating a place for our community, we’ve been busy creating our own clothing. Last May, Vincent and I went on a trip to Porto to visit factories and meet the people behind the manufacturing. The trip taught us that timing is key. To produce clothing you need to work 2/3 months ahead before the actual drop takes place. Totally different from organizing parties which usually takes 3 up to 5 weeks tops. The crew has been growing also. For example, Thimo - our graphic designer who does all of our flyers, posters, basically our whole visual identity - has spent many hours perfecting our T-shirt graphics. Next to Thimo we recently started working with our new clothing designer Neale… We’re trying to hit September for our first official drop. It’s all new to us, so we’re destined to make mistakes along the way. Which is fine, we are used to that. Growing with each step.
How does the design process work for you?
At the moment, most of our designs are inspired by nightculture. Meaning the free spirits and individual expression in the youthful peeps. But also its idiocracy in the way of drunk youngins, hopeless romantics and extravagant fashionistas. We believe the night opens up possibilities for creative expression, unifying people, escapism and of course, lots of fun.
How was it for your collective during the peak of the pandemic, what were some challenges that you faced?
In the beginning, it was very tough. Before the pandemic started it felt like we were on top of the world and were finally getting somewhere. The community was getting closer, people were collaborating and most importantly: they were having fun at our parties. Covid shook up our world and it felt like we were losing everything. Until we started to get invitations to parties from all around the city. Illegal raves were popping up. That was the moment we said: “Fuck it, we’ve always wanted to organize illegal parties!”, so we rented a power generator, borrowed some DJ gear from a friend and took it to suburban Park Transwijk. It was awesome. We invited our friends, DJs such as: Jade Soul, Nala, Velez, Kalaba, Sandor Dayala and many, many more. Two police helicopters, 3 motorcycles, and two cop cars shutted down our party around 2am. Felt like a 5 star wanted level in GTA. For sure the wildest night of La Cassette.
You recently hosted at Woo Hah x Rolling Loud Festival, how was that experience?
With La Cassette, we’ve never really done hosting before. It just wasn't us. About two weeks before the festival took off we got a DM on Instagram from someone from the organization with the question to close down Sunday night at the Lil cube stage. It felt like an honor. To be clear; this is the biggest hip-hop festival in the Netherlands. Kinda cool right? So this time, of course, we’ve said yes and without knowing who's going to DJ we’ve announced it to our crowd. Immediately Damy from BlackAcid DM’d us and offered him and Ley’s (DJ/Producer) help. To make it even bigger we’ve asked our good friend Simon (DJ Velez) to join our mission. To end it, our own photographer Julia (Jamanbroershots) was selected to be one of the five house photographers of the festival. The whole crew went up.
We decided we wanted to do something special that day… something people would remember us for. As big fans of the visual identity of (illegal) rave culture we came up with the idea to make flyers inside of plastic zip bags.
And now the world is open again you seem to be growing and growing, what are some upcoming events that you have coming?
Like last summer we’re saying goodbye to the club and are taking the party outside. This time without police helicopters (probably) because Utrecht has a new event location called Beton-T, a concrete playground next to SPU, Utrechts’ local skatepark. This summer we're organizing three big block parties called La Cassette Summerre. The first edition is coming up Saturday the 23rd of July. We’ve got Marith taking it off, followed by Velez, Passion Deez right after and De Schuurman closing the festival. 13th of August it’s time for DJ Assault, our first international booking. Big one, very proud. At last, we’re ending the Summerre with a bang. Molly&Ollie skate edition.
Both this new location and La Cassette seem to be breathing in a new life to Utrecht, what do you think makes your city unique in the Dutch landscape?
So, let me answer this question by explaining how we, as La Cassette, are trying to make cultural Utrecht more diverse and unique. One of our most important strategies lies in connecting young talent from all over the country and unifying them within the central and easy-to-visit Utrecht. By doing this we try to expand our community to be borderless. As said earlier, we generate a space, our community fulfils the destination, this is exactly what’s happening with our collaboration with Beton-T.
Whenever you look at the history of cultural Utrecht you will find a big gap between the rise of legends like Kyteman, Guido de Boer, Café het Hart and Tivoli Oudegracht till now. For about 10 years Utrecht didn’t really provide anything culturally invested, we try to change that by investing in Utrecht.
Most of the time you see creatives moving out of Utrecht, we want to make the creative culture more interesting and promising so people will stay and even come here.