Chatting with newly crowned America’s Best DJ Kaskade

24-karat: Kaskade shows off his new mantel pieces.
Al Powers
Sam Glaser

On October 9, inside the Library at Marquee Nightclub, DJ Times magazine and Pioneer DJ equipment brand presented Ryan “Kaskade” Raddon with a gold-plated mixer at a private awards ceremony honoring his No. 1 finish in the annual America’s Best DJ poll. Kaskade played a set in celebration for his fans and peers, including fellow DJs Erick Morillo, Scotty Boy and last year’s winner, Z-Trip, but he’s got more on his plate than enjoying the win. As Kaskade prepares to release new album Fire & Ice, the DJ maintains impeccable balance between creative authenticity and commercial success. His immensely popular production and DJ sets blend euphoric flavors of progressive and ambient melodic-house.

Your free-concert tweet in LA incited what’s been described as a riot. Swedish House Mafia sold out Madison Square Garden in an hour. What’s the status of EDM in pop culture?

It’s so massive and nobody understands how big it really is. We are a part of pop culture right now—but since it’s mostly an underground movement, no one knows how to capture it, bottle it up and sell it. All these major labels are trying to figure out how to exploit us, but we’re all doing it on our own.

When was the tipping point?

In 2009 I played the main stage at Electric Daisy Carnival. On a bill of 50 artists, there were only two signed to a major label—Swedish House Mafia and Deadmau5. The rest of us are indie. The fact that we could all get together and draw 100,000 fans to the Los Angeles Coliseum was truly amazing.

You were one of Las Vegas’ first electronic resident DJs. How did you time the move?

I’ve really got to give a lot of respect to Paul Oakenfold over at Rain. When he did it and it was successful, I knew there was more room. I’ve been touring here for 10 years and I’ve seen it escalate year after year. I felt it was ready and I love it here.

Describe how your styles differ between Encore Beach Club and Marquee Nightclub?

At the pool it’s about keeping it very sexy, a little more laid-back, groovy and funky. Which is great because I get the opportunity to play a lot of my older music from when I was living in San Francisco. But it’s also great to come into a nightclub at 2 a.m. and really pound it out.

Tell us about your upcoming double CD, Fire & Ice.

Fire & Ice is a concept album. I have two main styles in me: I do this big-room, euphoric, melodic house music. That’s the Fire side—stuff I could focus on in my sets, up-tempo, performance-driven tracks. Then I have the Ice side. It’s more chill, more focused on the songs. It’s like a personal indulgence—deeper, melodic stuff.

How do you balance artistic credibility and commercial viability?

I don’t tweak things just to have them fit a larger audience. I didn’t have the Black Eyed Peas make a guest appearance. I just do what I do and more people are discovering EDM. I think me and my fellow artists are just in this space and more and more people are coming over here. It’s like, we’re doing our thing, wanna join in? We’re having a party.


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