Riding a wave of 80’s nostalgia, French start up We are Rewind have decided to bring the cassette player back……we caught up with Founder and CEO Romain Boudruche to explain………
Before We are Rewind, I was a copywriter in advertising and my partner Matthieu was a project manager in the music industry. We have been friends since high school and wanted to start a project together, something that would really inspire us. We are both fans of music, so it is quite natural that we focused our research on this sector.
Having grown up in the 80s and 90s, we, like many people of our generation, have kept a fairly nostalgic memory of that time. So when we came across this article which said that the sales of audio cassettes had gone up again, it “tilted”.
Driven by the success of the film Guardians of the Galaxy and its soundtrack sold in cassette format, sales have exploded. The problem ? Difficult to get a walkman worthy of the name. The only ones that really have style (like the very first portable player Sony TPS-L2) are sold at a high price on ebay (up to $ 1000 !!!). And the other cheaper ones are of deplorable quality. So this is it ! We said that we should redo music players … But as it should.
The renewed interest in cassettes has so far mainly affected England (where they created the Cassette Store Day some years ago), the United States and China. We are currently talking about a niche market but driven by successful series with an 80’s atmosphere like “Stranger Things”, sales have increased every year since 2016.
A bit like vinyl, the idea of having an object that you can see, that you can touch and hold in your hands is good in the digital age. The relationship with music has changed. But nothing can replace the romanticism and the magnetism of an audio cassette.
Contrary to what most people think, analog sound is not bad. It is also “warmer” than that of MP3 when you listen to it on good speakers. And then, audio cassettes have lots of advantages: they cost less than vinyls (around 8 € / unit for a new cassette), they are more practical to transport … Imagine after a concert you lug around your vinyl bought at merchandising all evening … not very practical! While an audio cassette fits in the back pocket …
Not easy to find a company that still manufactures walkman. Most have closed their doors (the Sony Walkman factory closed in 2011) following the overwhelming arrival of the CD. So we started by turning to a French manufacturer of high-end audio equipment called AV Industry who immediately understood what we were looking to do.
This manufacturer informed us that their subsidiary in China had found a factory capable of producing good quality walkman. We would have preferred to make “Made in France” but hey .. as we can not always do as we want we will be satisfied with a “Designed in France” because the company still has talented designers. We were therefore able to work with them on a design that was both sober and elegant, between “vintage” and “modernism” in the spirit of what Braun did in the 50s and 60s.