Here’s how Nine Inch Nails’ Alessandro Cortini uses a 4-track Portastudio as a performance instrument

With the DAW now king, most people have now consigned their 4-track cassette recorders to history (or maybe the loft). However, Nine Inch Nails’ keyboard player Alessandro Cortini has taken the unusual step of putting his Tascam Portastudio right at the heart of his music-making rig.  

In an interview with Reverb, he explains how he starts by creating his tracks in Logic Pro, before splitting them into four parts and committing them to cassette. He can then mix and perform with these in real-time using not only his Tascam’s faders and channel strips, but also a clutch of outboard effects.

In the video above, Cortini explains how he’s embraced the impefections of tape - such as its trademark hiss - to add character to his music. Alessandro isn’t a dyed-in-the-wool retro-fetishist, though; you’ll note that he’s also triggering samples from a Teenage Engineering OP-Z, so he’s clearly not averse to embracing new technology when he thinks that it can add something to his process.

If you want to add some cassette flavour to your tracks, you don't necessarily need to use the real thing. Plugins such as Klevgrand's DAW Cassette enable you to get similar results in software, and you'll never have to worry about head cleaning, either.

You can also download our 256 free cassette club samples, a selection of loops that were committed to cassette before coming back into the digital domain. 

Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.