Cassettes Won’t Listen is the solo brainchild of Jason Drake. The New York-based multi-instrumentalist and producer created Cassettes Won’t Listen in 2004, complete with fictional personas for each instrument he incorporated into his new endeavor, the latest in a heap of musical monikers he has realized over the years. He introduced the “band” (Kid Lucci on vocals/ lead guitar, Doc Torchaos on bass, Jeh Walker on vocals/ guitar and Drehke on synth/ programming) to cyberspace via the label he co-founded, Dope Lotus Records. Drake amassed a fan base and critical acclaim upon the release of Cassettes Won’t Listen’s EP Nobody’s Moving, convincing all that the sound was the workings of a full band. He reasoned that the live show was put on hold as the band was tucked away in the studio, hard at work on their debut LP.
Being that CWL was a complete new direction in Drake’s artistry, it was natural to want to put a twist on the project. While Drake was a self-taught multi-instrumentalist beginning at the age of 12 when he met his first guitar, he had more recently focused on instrumental hip hop. As Director of Marketing at the famed independent label Definitive Jux, it was easy to fall into the box of beat production. He’d spend hours on end producing beats in his Tribeca studio, combining raw 808 drum hits matched with lo-fi grimy bass samples and driving organ solos. For these recordings he was known simply as Drake. Some years back, while studying Music Technology at New York University, his disguise as a full band, also called Drake, garnered him nomination by Tommy Hilfiger as one of New York’s best unsigned bands.
Cassettes Won’t Listen was born out of Drake’s desire to bring live instrumentation back into the mix. He realized that his self-consciousness towards making music, together with the crowd by which he was surrounded, made it easy for him to limit himself to beat production. He also was coming out of a break up with his girlfriend at the time, which added the desire to let loose and delve into more musical styles for which he was passionate.
The meaning of the name Cassettes Won’t Listen is two-fold. On one hand, it was Drake’s experience of going through hard times and pouring emotions into recordings on tape, but finding it to be a one-way street. The medium wasn’t listening and giving back, but rather only absorbing the thoughts. The name also touches on the attempt to get music into the hands of executives in the industry. In actuality, these said decision-makers are getting played like a cassette, lacking the real power to determine the musical landscape and failing to truly listen to much of the music sent their way.
Cassettes Won’t Listen is the latest alias of Jason Drake, a seamless forging of his diverse musical talents and influences. Originally born in Los Angeles, Drake has lived in the Bay Area, San Diego, New Orleans, New Jersey and New York. When he was 14 years old living in New Orleans, he “borrowed” his parents Sony turntable when he was given a Warped 12”, the title: “Mentirosa”, the artist: Mellow Man Ace . The scratching and sampling began, and piano experimentation soon followed. His ultimate goal was to combine beat production with guitar, piano and synthesizers, underneath singing and rhyming. He and video artist/ graphic designer Mike Low started up Dope Lotus Records in 2001, founded as a purely digital operation, then ahead of a troubled record industry approaching the crossroads into a more digital existence.
The live Cassettes Won’t Listen show features Drake jumping around from turntables to electric and acoustic guitars, drum machines and keyboards, alongside guest instrumentalists on drums and saxaphone, as well as guest MCs, while Loboy of the Dope Lotus crew manipulates video live.