The New York Times may have called him the “new face of electronic dance music” in a recent profile, but Ryan Raddon, known as Kaskade, has been in the trenches of the EDM scene as an original recording artist and in-demand DJ for more than a decade. He has released seven studio albums, including his latest, Fire & Ice, scored nine Top 10 hits on Billboard’s Hot Dance Airplay Chart, created chart-topping remixes for everyone from Lady Gaga to Beyoncé, appeared at all the major summer festivals, and has performed between 150 and 200 headlining shows a year for the last 10 years, building a name for himself as an innovator of the EDM scene as we know it today, which has opened doors for the likes of Deadmau5, Tiesto, Skrillex and more. In doing so, he has helped to lay the groundwork for a titanic musical and cultural shift: a post-rock EDM revolution that has captured the imagination of a new generation of music lovers across North America. Case in point is the growing popularity of the Electric Daisy Carnival, which Kaskade has performed at since 2007, where his contemporaries are also beginning to call “home” and drew more than 230,000 people to its main event in Las Vegas just last year.
Kaskade’s own live show is a jaw-dropping spectacle that finds him performing in front of an 80-foot wide, three-stories tall LED screen that blares images synched with the music while strobe lights scan the crowd. “I’m trying to create an environment where you can lose yourself in these really big, grand, euphoric moments,” he says. “And to do that, there has to be a certain intensity. We’re barraged with so much information in modern-day culture, thanks to the Internet, social media, texting, and television. I want people to forget their worries and cares and be able to come together and celebrate life by hearing these songs that they love, with words that have touched them in a certain way. That’s what I’m trying to do at each and every show.”
Kaskade’s belief in the transformative power of dance music to uplift thousands of people at once has had a significant effect on the U.S. scene. His ground-breaking double residency in Las Vegas at the Encore Beach Club (which had not even been built when he signed on) and Marquee has elevated the city’s status as a premiere club-going destination on par with London, Berlin, and Ibiza, while his ability to attract thousands of people to mid-week shows in the middle of the country, as well as on the coasts, is another testament to his popularity. In addition, Kaskade’s commitment to exposing Americans to EDM has paved the way for such well-established European acts as David Guetta and Swedish House Mafia to connect with Stateside audiences on a larger scale, as well as helped create a community of fans for such homegrown phenomena as Skrillex and Deadmau5, both of whom Kaskade has collaborated with over the years. “People are ready for this music,” Kaskade says. “It’s incubated long enough that the artistry and musicality is there now.”
Kaskade’s current position as EDM’s most sought-after emissary and one of its most beloved figures – he was the 2011 winner of “America’s Best DJ” presented by Pioneer DJ and DJ Times – is due large in-part to his laid-back, unaffected demeanor but it all boils down to the music. The former skateboarder has been known to show up at gigs in flip-flops but that is in no way indicative of how seriously he takes creating his music:
“The first thing I think about when I make music is the melody and the lyrics,” he says. “Production styles come and go, but good songs can stand the test of time.”
“Kaskade’s signature sound is as unmistakable as it is beautiful; a combination of dewy female vocals, tough electronic underpinnings, and memorable melodies.” — Billboard