Kaskade: A Dance of Ice & Fire

source: Kaskade

Ryan Raddon aka Kaskade has been in the gutter of the EDM scene as an original recording artiste and in-demand DJ for over a decade. Having released plenty of albums, singles, remixes and mash-ups, Kaskade stands out as one of the successful American DJs in the scene’s pre-EDM explosion days. His last album, Fire & Ice, was nominated for the 2013 Grammy’s ‘Best Dance/Electronica Album’ category. Not bad for someone who served 2 years as a full time missionary at a church in Japan before his DJ activities. Did we mention he is also fluent in Japanese? During his recent gig in town, JUICE managed to steal a bit of time from the house legend to talk about his journey as DJ and producer… in English, of course…

Being musically influenced by Tears For Fears, The Cure, and The Smiths, who would you pick if you were given the chance to work with, and why?
Aw, that’s a very, very hard question. I don’t know, Morrisey perhaps? They’re all amazing, I love The Cure and The Smiths, but Morrisey from The Smiths just because he’s still around doing it. He’s amazing and still creating excellent music. Definitely still a cool guy doing his thang.

Word. Morrisey from The Smiths can come off as quite the opinionated artiste, don’t you think so?
He’s maybe a little bit arrogant, but it’s alright. That’s what makes him such a great artiste. In my opinion, he creates what he wants to, and is not swayed by public opinion. It’s awesome that he just does what he loves to do. The fact that he is able to make such an impression on many people is amazing, I mean I’ve seen him play live about 7 to 8 times, and each show was fantastic. He’s not only a great songwriter, but a great performer too.

Some pioneer DJs think house and electronic music produced today is total bullsh!t…
The old guys? Yes, well I’m an old guy.

… and that makes you the perfect guy to tell us about your opinion on it.
I still appreciate the new stuff. Listen, there’s always good music bound to be found. I think now it’s exciting for electronic music because there’s so much being made. I know guys were saying that there were so much music 15 years ago, but now with the popularisation of the genre, there really is a lot being made. There’s great music out there, all sorts of stuff. I’m a huge fan of Skrillex and what he does, Boysnoize, A-Trak, and all these newer guys. A-Trak’s not new, but much newer compared to me. So I’m a fan of new music, but it’s just about finding what’s good. Every once in a while something I don’t like surfaces, but it’s all cool.

Speaking about Boysnoize, he came down and we were flippin’ tables!
I know, he’s amazing!

You’ve played tons of gigs at clubs as well as music festivals around the globe, tell us your best and worst experience you’ve encountered so far.
Well, I’ve done thousands of shows, but it’s gonna be hard to think of the absolute best. A monumental show for me was my concert that I did in Los Angeles last year at The Staple Centre. That was just a big moment for me because it was a huge arena filled with my fans. It was the largest audience I’ve ever played to that was strictly there for one of my shows, so it was an awesome moment for me. As far as worst moments go, I try to forget them. I have had many bad moments along the way from private parties to weird shows where I have driven hours. I remembered I drove to one show in Central America. I flew in and drove hours to somewhere on the beach. It was just terrible.

Kaskade used to deliver softer, chilled out tunes back then. Your recent tracks include more bass and synths. Did you change your style to appeal to the younger crowd or was it part of your growth as an artiste?
Yep, less organic stuff at the moment. I’d say it was part of my growth, I think touring affected me a lot because I was out on the road playing to bigger audiences. I couldn’t play at 120BPM, cause I kept getting booked in bigger and bigger rooms because the sound was really popular. I noticed myself pitching up the records, and I noticed, “Man, I should just make records that are faster instead of pitching them up!” I think my music stylistically is still very much the same though. I had to ramp it up production-wise, but I still make a lot of deep house.

You’ve got a lot of acclaim in the last few years like America’s Best DJ by DJ Times in 2011 and Top 30 on DJ Mag in 2012, does that put any pressure on you when you’re creating, or when you go into the studio to start a new project?
Hmm, not really. Most of that stuff is just phony anyway. It’s just what it may seem like from the outside, which doesn’t affect me much. I feel more pressure answering to the fans if there’s anything. Since I have such a close relationship with my fans through Facebook and Twitter, where I’m always speaking to them, I’m just striving to do the best that I am capable of and I hope they can accept it.

If you were to suggest a track to a person who knows nothing about Kaskade, what would you recommend, and why?
I’d probably say ‘4AM’ or ‘It’s You, It’s Me’. I think those are very quintessential songs that I wrote, which is much older. ‘It’s You, It’s Me’ is over 10 years old now whereas ‘4AM’ is 6 years old. I think if you listen to those songs, you’ll understand what I’m about. They’re about me and my life and the sound and style is very unique.

Anything new from Kaskade this year?
I have a new album coming in the fall, which is pretty soon. I’ve got a new single, ‘Atmosphere’ that I debuted at Ultra Music Festival. I’ll be playing a version of it tonight, and that’s the first single coming out in 3 to 4 weeks.

Over Twitter, you recently had a Q&A session with your fans to see how much they know you. The latest question was about your favourite cartoon character as you were growing up…
Woody Woodpecker! Nobody guessed it.

Exactly, we wanted JUICE to be the first to hear it!
I try to do stuff that my fans can’t find on Google. I have a lot of favourite cartoon characters though. I was a Spiderman fan. It shall be Woody Woodpecker for now and who knows, probably He-Man tomorrow.

Kaskade played at Zouk Club KL on Friday 10 May 2013.