Photos: Kaskade receives America’s Best DJ award at Cosmopolitan

2011 America’s Best DJ winner Kaskade at Marquee in the Cosmopolitan on Oct. 9, 2011.
Photo: Al Powers/Powers Imagery

By Mark Adams

On Sept. 9, DJ Times magazine and Pioneer DJ announced that Las Vegas regular Kaskade had secured the top spot in the 2011 America’s Best DJ competition. Exactly a month later, the DJ celebrated his win with an exclusive ceremony at The Library in Marquee at the Cosmopolitan. The location was fitting, as Kaskade, birth name Ryan Raddon, is a resident DJ at Marquee and even played a set at the nightclub after the ceremony Sunday night.

“I’ve done nine shows here, and I don’t know, they’ve all been crazier than the next,” Kaskade said of Marquee. “It’s just been an unbelievable ride.” That ride the L.A.-based DJ speaks of also includes another residency right down the street; for the past two summers, he supplied his sensational sounds under the sun at Encore Beach Club at Steve Wynn’s Encore. His decision to secure a more-permanent show space in the city led the way for nightclubs to invite big-name electronic acts to play rather than celebrities to host.

With June’s first Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, the city has become an electronic dance music destination, something Kaskade supports. “Las Vegas is a great city, and they deserve to have electronic music as unbridled as it is now,” he said. With three other DJs in the competition’s Top 10 also holding residencies here this year, EDM here is anything but restrained. Steve Aoki (No. 5) and Wolfgang Gartner (No. 7) have residencies at Encore nightclubs, and Diplo (No. 6) served as a resident for the Palms’ weekly Clash! party at Rain.

2011 America's Best DJ: Kaskade at Marquee

Rounding out this year’s Top 10: Skrillex (No. 2), Z-Trip (No. 3), BT (No. 4), A-Trak (No. 8), Bassnectar (No. 9) and Designer Drugs (No. 10). DJ Times Editor Jim Tremayne said that the race was close for the Top Three. “We had a pretty good idea it was going to be one of three people even by the Fourth of July. … We kind of had an idea who was going to win a month later, and we were right.”

As for how Kaskade took the title, Tremayne believes it was a few factors. “He’s built an audience really gradually over the last few years, and he has a very dedicated fan base,” he said. “He’s an energetic DJ, he creates his own music. … Ultimately it comes down to his talent.”

Also present at the ceremony was former Palms resident DJ Z-Trip, who took the title in 2009. After being ineligible in 2010 for winning the previous year, the mash-up/hip-hop DJ shared that he was excited to be back in the Top Three.

“The fact that I’ve won it once is great. People can’t stay on top the whole time, but to be in the same pool and be recognized as one of the greats is the flattering part,” he said. “That’s the part I’m stoked about.”

Kaskade’s win is more than a title and bragging rights; a 24-karat gold-plated Pioneer mixer was given to Kaskade at Sunday night’s soiree, a fitting way for the DJ to remember the year that put him on top.

Editor’s note: Thanks to Al Powers for his photo gallery of Kaskade.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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