Meet the Man With A Van Crew: Zak Degenhardt
Zak ‘Turbo’ Degenhardt AKA Cassettes For Kids
Zak Degenhardt has been working for The Man for five and a half years, first donning the all-black lifting kit when he was 20. Like many at Man With A Van, Zak works as a mover to support his main gig as a muso - his dancefloor-focused project Cassettes For Kids. Zak is having a boom year with his music, playing an increasing number of festival slots and getting a lot of press coverage.
We thought it’d be a good time to sit down for a yarn with Zak and discuss his music, how he balances his creative work with a physical job, and what he has coming up over the next year.
How did you decide on Cassettes For Kids as your stage name?
My brother used to give me mix tapes when I was growing up. That, coupled with the fact that there were four of us siblings growing up together, gives Cassettes For Kids.
How would you describe your performances?
High energy and funky. I want everyone to have fun on the dance floor so there’s always an element of happiness with a little dashing of taking the piss.
What genres do you play?
My sets are very house-y with a huge focus on sexy vocals and belting percussion. I love disco and garage as well, but I love to throw in electro and breaks to watch everyone fumble trying to dance to it.
Are you focused primarily on the decks or producing your own stuff?
It’s honestly 50/50 now. My djing used to suck so bad but I’ve been working hard at it for the last three years now that it’s just as important as production. If I have a gig, I’ll spend the two weeks prior to it getting so excited for it, but then I spend my weekdays having therapy sessions in my studio (read: bedroom).
How does working at MWAV fit in with your musical career?
It’s fantastic. I work around my gigs, I get to listen to mixes and play demos in the trucks to my unassuming partners and the physical aspect means my body isn’t completely distorted from being slumped over a laptop all day.
How’d you hear about the job originally?
My sister ranted and raved about the company when she moved and I thought it would be a cool job!
Funniest moment on a move?
When I first started, me and this guy were working together in a horribly-designed building very late in the day. We were struggling to take literally anything up the stairs of this place and we finally got to the couch. The customer was hell bent on it going up, so we heaved and hoed to no avail before I had a moment of frustration and asked, “who designed this stupid place?”. To which the customer very sheepishly remarked, “I did…”.
Funniest moment onstage?
When I was first playing out, I was playing a lot at Bimbos (R.I.P.). It was around Christmas time and someone put a Santa hat on my head while I was playing. It was super hot and I was so sweaty in there, so I only had it on for maybe 5-10 mins before I noticed the hat wasn’t helping my heat situation. I reached to grab it off me and discovered the whole thing was covered in someone’s pee.
What does the next year hold for your music?
I’ve got a tour in the works around Australia over April, my first vinyl EP, a vinyl single and then just knuckling down over winter before I go to Amsterdam Dance Event in October to make a fool out of myself in front of all my dance music idols.
You seem to be having a breakout year with lots of festival shows and some great coverage. What’s made the difference for you?
I have an Instagram account where I shed a few gym selfies after I’ve been smashing the Man With A Van gym at the depot. So the chronic narcissism along with the fact I have a vaguely good idea of what works on a dance floor has really helped me recently. Oh, that and I'm incredibly good at social climbing. If you’ll get me somewhere, I'lll manipulate you!
Do you get more respect from your colleagues when they realise you have a truck named after you?
They respect me more when I tell them how I got the nickname. [Zak’s tribute truck is ‘Turbo’, a nickname he received after repeatedly being the driver at the time of turbocharger failure on The Man's trucks].