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SXSW ’08 PREVIEW: CASSETTES WON’T LISTEN

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His real name is Jason Drake. But when it comes to his music career, the New York-based singer and multi-instrumentalist goes by the moniker Cassettes Won’t Listen.

Punching the clock: Since 2001, Drake has worked for the hip-hop label Definitive Jux. His current role is director of marketing.
“A typical day is spent on the computer and on the phone a lot. Meetings are a common occurrence and brainstorming sessions are happening all the time. It really is a great job, sort of like Tom Hanks in Big. It’s very creative and we’re always coming up with ideas on how to keep the business running and on top. That’s the beauty of putting out quality music — we can stay creative and not transform into a sterile machine trying to pump out crap CDs with our fingers crossed.”

Onstage evolution: Drake continues to tinker with his concert presentation.
“It’s evolved from a solo show into a show with guest musicians and then to a show with a set DJ and drummer. Now it’s currently back to a solo show. I’m constantly changing the show partly to make it interesting and partly to push myself into new realms. With touring in mind, I’ve started working on a show that could travel relatively easily. I think my show will constantly change.”

Feels like the first time: He’s attended SXSW before, but this year is Drake’s first as a showcasing artist. He’ll be promoting the third CWL effort, the self-released Small-Time Machine, due March 11.

“I’m a pretty approachable person, so it’ll be fun meeting a bunch of new people. . . . I may have some tricks up my sleeve.”

Barbecue, beer, warm weather and, oh yeah, music: When he’s not performing, eating or drinking, Drake will be checking out other acts this week while in Austin.
“The Def Jux showcase with Del the Funky Homosapian, Dizzee Rascal and El-P. . . . (and) hanging out with all the New York cats that are making the trek down there.”

— Introduction and interview by Chris M. Junior

Cassettes Won’t Listen at SXSW ’08 (schedule subject to change):

* 1 p.m. March 12: SESAC Day Stage Cafe (Austin Convention Center)
* Midnight March 15: Lamberts Patio