Exclusive Interview: Shamon Cassette's Hockey Spirit
Los Angeles-based performers, Shamon Cassette & Zamboni Zound Zystem, are a collision course between analog media and raw expression that's perfectly consumable for a digital world.
Photo by: @dancefloormurder
Originating in Kanagawa Japan, Shamon Cassette is an LA-based audio/visual designer and CEO of Rad Safari Tapes. With a passion for cassette culture and hockey, Shamon fuses elements of hip hop, punk rock, and acid house to create an atmosphere we've never experienced before.
Currently crushing the Los Angeles underground scene with the Zamboni Zound Zystem, we first witnessed their performance at No House with Kent Osborne earlier this year. Decked out with his iconic hockey helmet, Shamon Cassette raged among the crowd while the Zound Zystem supplied constant grooves. The pit was nonstop with the exception of a couple of house tracks that had everyone throwing down. We were sucked in, to say the least, let alone a rare Spider-Punk spotting gave the show a genuine underground feel.
Flash forward a couple of months...
We had the opportunity to catch up with Shamon Cassette after their recent appearance with Spaceface at the Resident.
Shot by: @spaceyyvibess
Q: When did you start making music?
A: The week I got out of the hospital at 5 from an accident that happened from breakdancing, I took the interest in fear of the future of the physical. During my rehab stages, I'd lay on my uncle's back while he laid his 6'8'' body on the floor w headphones on writing raps on a note pad creating this massive curiosity of a universe for me that would carry on my whole life.
Q: How did the current lineup of Shamon Cassette and The Zamboni Zound Zystem come together?
A: This lineup simply came together after a call from Sean (The drummer in Surfbort). They were organizing their first show post covid and they asked if I could be the opener. Knowing Surfbort for years and mostly just going on gig trips for the fun, I was just coming off the back of touring in an acid house act and living in Ireland for the previous years. I didn't have anything in place as for band elements and also wasn't fully sure what Sean was asking for, so it was a bit of a fun, loaded question.
From that point, I reached out to Eko the guitar player, who is the younger brother of one of my best friends Skyy and we started playing my album tracks (Blades of Steel). From that stage we felt we needed more players, so he reached out to a childhood friend who ended up being Nate our drummer. We played a few gigs as a 3 piece and then realized it would be wicked if we added another section, so Nate reached out to his cousin who he grew up with like a brother and he had a tryout. From the first day, it was on, so now we have Camboni on the Bass and the rest is history
Q: When did you start performing? From your experience, how's the LA scene?
A: I started performing professionally when I was 15. Growing up in Tokyo there were always loads of opportunities for a hip-hop kid.
The scene in LA is a total blessing. It's something I'd always dreamed about but could never imagine it would ever be a real thing. The scene is like the epitome of a free world. Mostly, if not all of the friends and family I've made have come from the scene here in LA. It's an inspiring, beautiful, protected, sacred thriving thing. One of my biggest motivations is cultivating our scene here.
Q: You all performed at SXSW earlier this year, how was that experience?
A: SXSW was our first time playing outside of LA. We got invited to play before Surfbort on the main night at Hotel Vegas. It was a very memorable experience. I've never seen so many people of so many different scenes just having it.
There was lots of dirt and dust kicked up and people jumping everywhere and losing their shit. I think even at one point someone got chucked in the head w a cassette tape. It was definitely all love and in the spirit of hockey.
Q: How would you describe your connection to cassette culture?
A: My connection to cassette culture is truly all in the name ;) I've been obsessed with cassettes since I was a kid. My grandpa had a reel to reel in the garage and he also had this motorized fat burner strap thing in the garage he'd turn on and burn calories. I'd click around on his reel to reel enjoying the way it sounds when the tapes spin and the metallic clicks of when the tape stops etc.
I always had a deep obsession for cassettes. I have at least 2 tape players in each room at all times and always hunting for more. I started my own cassette label (Rad Safari Tapes) to feed the obsession. Now I'm able to release all my own music on cassette as well as bands of friends I adore and other discovered gems on the scene.
Q: Are you open to collaboration?
What're some of your favorite projects you've been a part of?
A: My last album was me facing collaboration. In my past, I've never really done collaborations at all outside of my crew. I wanted to experiment more this time around and also challenge my social anxiety and fear of rejection.
Blades of Steel has 17 collaborators on it. It was a bit rough at times and I definitely experienced loads of rejection in the process but in the end, I was able to make the exact album I envisioned making.
Some of my favorite projects I've been a part of this year so far have to be,
1. GLOK "Pattern Recognition" which is the solo project of Andy Bell (Oasis,RIDE,Beadyeye).
It got released on vinyl and had a UK number one chart position so that was really fun experiencing that. It never made it over to the U.S., but that's a different story lol.
2. "RUA 29" was a vinyl release that came out this year in Italy with Maxwell Simons and one of my best friends Big Space in South Africa. It's one of the most sonic mind-bending records you could hear a really global sound that mixes up everything from all of the 3 cities we live in.
3. "TOKYO TIME MACHINE" was recently released on Cassette and Vinyl. It's a record I made with my childhood friend Memph Reigns. We lost touch after high school and then got reconnected through social media during the pandemic. This record was trails of us catching up and reminiscing about all the times growing up in Japan and running amuck in Yokohama and Shibuya and underage drinking and what not and sneaking off base and being rebellious youth and all and then re-getting to know each other again as adults in this new world with families and putting it all down on wax.
Q: Any upcoming releases or shows?
A: Next shows... July 9 at Church of Fun and July 29 at Highland Park Bowl w/ Duderella. Currently in studio finishing up Zamboni Zound Zyztem recordings for an upcoming
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