Cassetteboy’s video mash-ups will be known to many, with a collective online view count of over 43 million.

The duo’s political uploads span a decade, combining satire, social commentary and electronic music, with Theresa May, David Cameron and Alan Sugar the subjects of their most viral videos.

I spoke to Mike, one of the two brains behind the Cassetteboy operation, ahead of their live audio-visual show at Abbeydale Picture House on 19 May, part of Festival of Debate 2018.

How do you decide the subject of a Cassetteboy video?

Most of the time it’s motivated by hatred. It’s someone that winds us up and we want to make them look stupid, or with the more political videos we feel we have something valid to say about someone by subverting their words, like we did with the David Cameron and Theresa May raps.

Do you have any stories about a subject responding to one of your videos?

We did a Hairy Bikers mash-up and a James May mash-up and they both took it quite well. We did a Nigella Lawson video, which is one of the only videos we’ve had taken down from YouTube. I guess she or whoever owns her footage didn’t like it very much. But we’ve never met anyone we’ve mashed up. I think it would be quite embarrassing if we did, for us and for them.

Can you talk us through your creative process?

We start by gathering as much raw material as we can. For example, The Apprentice video we did many years ago is made from four series of The Apprentice. If you just count the boardroom scenes, that’s maybe 24 hours of footage of Alan Sugar. We then gathered about an hour of stuff we thought would be useful and rearranged it, trying to make as many jokes as we could. All of that then created a six-minute video. The process took about three months. We weren’t working on it full time, but it felt like we were.

With Trump in the White House, has it become harder to do satire?

It is difficult, because Trump does and says things more ridiculous than we can make him say. The other thing with Trump is the news cycle moves incredibly quickly. You make a joke about Sean Spicer and he gets sacked. You make a joke about Trump ignoring the humanitarian disaster in Puerto Rico and the news cycle has already moved onto the Russia investigation by the time you’ve finished it.

Is it important that your work is political?

To use The Apprentice example again, in that video we are mocking Alan Sugar, not the contestants, which is the exact opposite of what the show itself does. You could say that’s political. We do stuff about politics itself when we feel we have something to say about government policies. Not everything we do has to be about politics, but everything we do is political.

If you had to pick a favourite piece you’ve made, which would it be?

Probably David Cameron’s Conference Rap. That particular video took what we had been doing and elevated it to the next level: it was political, it was timed to music, all of the words rhymed. Also, just through sheer coincidence, we released the video on the very day David Cameron changed the law to make our kind of copyright infringement legal. There was a nice kind of synergy there.

What can people expect from your live show?

People can expect some of our greatest hits, but we’ve got quite an established show, with lots of fun stuff people won’t have seen or heard before if they’ve never come to see us live. So hopefully there will be stuff you know and enjoy, but also stuff that you won’t know that you will also enjoy.

Cassetteboy have shows scheduled at Abbeydale Picture House, Sheffield on 19 May, and at Bluedot Festival, Jodrell Bank, 20-22 July.

festivalofdebate.com

Zoe Knight