Functions is our monthly interview series profiling parties from across the world. This time we meet: La Cassette.
La Cassette was born in Utrecht, just a little south of Amsterdam, originally as a multidisciplinary festival. Founders Vincent and Mees saw the opportunity to create something more enduring and fulfilling, combining their passion for hip hop, skate culture, and electronic music, with an urgency to fill a gap in the Dutch music scene. Through a trail of illegal events and maxed-out loans, La Cassette became a permanent fixture on the scene, today touring the country with club nights far and wide.
Still beckoning in a crew of hip hop selectors as a base for its parties, La Cassette also branches out into genres sitting on the peripheries of techno, bass, garage, and beyond, and now recruits people from the wider creative community to get involved in film and art projects. In the last handful of years, as La Cassette has grown, it’s expanded into movie nights, mentorship programmes, and even a clothing brand.
We caught up with Nicandro Lorenzo Visser and the La Cassette crew ahead of their next party at Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) in October to find out how they grew from illegal raves to a countrywide club night touring the Netherlands.
What’s the ethos behind La Cassette?
First and foremost, we want to create connections through all senses. We want people to find each other and make new things, from friendships to memories and work. As La Cassette, we want to play a key role in providing these people – our community – the space to fulfil their destinations.
We embrace night culture and believe that in the dark, talent develops, friendships blossom, and culture is born. Our collective visions are the stepping stones for creating our tagline: ‘Far From Done’, three words we truly believe in as we will always keep choosing the tough routes to our destinations.
How and when did La Cassette first start up?
Vincent and Mees started by organising a multidisciplinary festival. They would max out their student loans (hi student debts!) and spend every last penny on the festival – it turned out to be a great way to lose money. After three editions, they decided to pull the plug and focus on their shared passion: hip hop. La Cassette was born.
The first La Cassette party made them fall in love with the energetic crowd that showed up, and they realised Utrecht needed La Cassette as a community builder and a fresh breath of air in nightlife. La Cassette has since then grown after 4 years – a crazy journey through multiple cities, a pandemic, lots of illegal raves, and lots of very sick venues/clubs throughout the country, such as Weelde, POING, RadioRadio, Beton-T and Levenslang.
Do you remember the first party you ever threw? How was that?
We started in a tiny club in Utrecht. As a promotional stunt, we developed golden cassette tapes that we hid throughout the city in various coffee shops, vinyl bars and vintage stores. These tapes could be used for free entrance to our party. Seeing the diversity in the people that came to our party was amazing. We still see many of these day-ones at our parties and gatherings nowadays, making it even more sick.
La Cassette attracts creativity. For example, our good friend Aloïs a.k.a. Birdguy, who drew his iconic birds on sticky notes in the corner of the club, or Mart, a.k.a. MartMediaMart, who started filming at our parties at the age of 17 (he is one of our main videographers now!). We put much effort into changing our parties into a more significant experience than you would have at a regular club night… regular clubs are boring anyway.
What does a typical night look like at a La Cassette party? What genres are getting a spin?
This year, we decided to look at a more comprehensive sound range and select DJs that can bridge the musical gap between hip hop and electronic music. Because there’s an interesting similarity in the energy levels in these genres and because we like to research and experiment a lot, you can expect sounds ranging from hip hop to bass, jungle, grime, techno, and everything within.
As we have grown, we have taken a different view on hip hop as we believe it’s so much more than just rap music and rap parties. Parties with only rap music are too youthful and could learn from the mature character of electronic nightlife, while the latter could learn a lot from the community feeling within hip hop. After all, hip hop is a lifestyle and much more than just a musical expression.
You’ve hosted club nights all over the Netherlands, how do you go about scouting locations for your events?
We always book DJs from all over the country, even at our Utrecht parties. Therefore, connecting with other cities came naturally. Besides that, our team originates from all over the Netherlands, making it easy to understand each city’s differences. When we scout for locations, we find a couple of things essential. For instance, the place should be somewhat culturally invested. It also can’t be too established since we care a lot about a venue’s uniqueness, and more established places tend to be way more strict, resulting in less freedom and possibilities to show our creativity. Lastly, we really care about doing shit together. Being able to grow together, discover together, fall together and rise together is essential for us.
What are some particularly memorable moments at La Cassette parties?
Our first legal outdoor event, La Cassette Summerre, at Beton-T. This was the first time we decided to venture into different sounds, and we did that with none other than DJ Assault. After introducing ghetto house to the La Cassette musical portfolio, we expanded further by booking De Schuurman to also take in bubbling.
We can’t forget to mention our night at the Centraal Museum in Utrecht. We flipped the Museum’s yard into a living hangout with mattresses all over, pizzas by Punk Pizza and live music by Tyrone Marcio, Osman Bas, Kevin Lo and Cero Ismael.
Also, the many illegal things we did were truly memorable. From getting caught in the park by police – which actually ended up going viral on YouTube because a famous vlogger was the cop on duty – to insane afterparties at our office with more than a hundred people from our community crammed into a Boiler Room-style setup.
You run a clothing line on the side, how has that been going?
Very fucking rough. We’ve been doing some small stuff, but have yet to be able to show our full potential. Then again, how Far From Done is that?
All jokes aside, we’ve had the ambition to produce a La Cassette clothing line for a while now. We’ve been to Portugal to meet up with various production companies and are working with outstanding designers to ensure the final product will be crazy good. We want to go harder than just a tee with a logo and create clothing that complements a bigger story, adding to the whole La Cassette experience. Each expression will be a collector’s item, with its own creative campaign attached to it, unique packaging and everything. Believe us, this will be sick.
In the end, we are just a bunch of creative noobs that strive to go harder and harder and bring out the best in each other.
You also put on movie nights as well as parties, how did that start?
We always take heaps of inspiration from skate and hip hop culture. We just love the analogue aesthetic and grittiness that comes with it. Because we use a lot of video in our campaigns, videographers have become a massive part of our community. So far, we’ve worked with many incredible Dutch filmmakers such as Mart Pool, Baroeg Mulder, Lyon Pol, Lariza Zaldy and Ino van der Sande.
We wanted to create a stage for this part of our community and started La Cassette Gaat Movie (La Cassette Goes Movie). With this concept, we invited filmmakers to share their work and inspiration. We’ve had some fantastic showcases from, among others, Camille Boumans, Malika Helena de Rijke and Suzanne Koopstra.
What sets La Cassette apart from other club nights in The Netherlands?
Not being a club night. As mentioned, La Cassette is much more than just a club night. Clubbing is just one of many expressions to manifest our vision of nightlife. Everything we do is thought through and worked out with great upcoming professionals. All our creative endeavours are self-made and provocative. A round peg doesn’t fit in a square hole; you can’t fit a cassette tape in a CD player.
If you had to pick five artists to head up your next event, who are you choosing?
How has the dance music culture grown in The Netherlands in recent years?
Honestly, we are not the ones to make a statement on this. We don’t keep track of the dance music culture. Nightlife is part of our area of operations, and we can make an impact there, but stubborn as we are, we focus more on growing our community. We see a lot of cool crews doing dope stuff though, so definitely check out: Alleslifestyle, Fomo (Rotterdam), Paardenrave and Pretty Girls Like Trap Music.
What’s next for La Cassette?
Coming up in October, the La Cassette Rookie Programme will kick off. With this project, we offer an educational trajectory for those trying to grow in the creative and cultural sector. During the program, a creative starter will be connected to a well-fitted, established professional to be guided in one of three disciplines we often work with; graphic design, film & photography, and cultural programming.
After that, we will take a small break to get some things straight – we might throw a lil’ party here and there though. We want to go way crazier next year and create an even more meaningful La Cassette experience. But to do that properly, we need to take a moment to sit, relax and plan ahead. After all, sometimes, you must take two steps back to move forward. Life’s a marathon y’all, and we’re Far From Done.
Photography by Julia Huikeshoven (@jamanbroershots)
Gemma Ross is Mixmag’s Assistant Editor, follow her on Twitter
Written by: Tim Hopkins