A Geyser of Talent: How Kaskade Led the Electronic Dance Revolution
By Ben Mones
The stage is dark, save for an enormous LED screen slowly coming alive. In the shadows, Ryan Raddon glances at the 80,000+ people in front of him, making last minute tweaks to his mixer and turntables. A thick haze of cigarettes, sweat, and artificial fog settles over the crowd. The audience is so electric they are literally giving off heat, and Raddon can feel it. He cues the pulsating lasers and ribcage-rattling bass. Like Clark Kent, he settles into the booth and transforms into the one, the only: Kaskade.
Any Electronic Dance Music (EDM) fan knows that Kaskade is a maestro on stage, but few know him as Ryan Raddon: entrepreneur, teacher and father. KoldCast TV’s The Craft gives its viewers an exclusive inside look at the man behind the music who has paved the way for EDM mega-acts like Skrillex and Deadmau5. As an A+R director with a background in choir, Raddon brings a dynamic flair to The Craft series.
You are watching Episode 4 of The Craft, “Kaskade”
Kaskade’s music reflects his chosen DJ name. It steadily trickles down your spine, hitting all your senses, until an overflow of chorus rains down your entire body, compelling you to let go and dance the night away. This essential ingredient, the positively primal need to move to the music, is what makes EDM so special.
The genre has swept nearly every corner of the nation over the last three years, creating a new subculture of ravers and clubbers and spiking sales of neon clothing and glow sticks. This is not to say there was no scene prior to that, it was just swept under the rug. Kaskade has been rocking crowds for decades; although attendance at his early shows pale in comparison to the hundreds of thousands who’ve gathered for more than 125 shows he’s played in the past year alone. His distinct, angelic female vocals layered over heavy synth and raw bass have created a diverse, loyal fan base as well as lots of paychecks. About $8 million worth, according to Forbes.
Click to play “Kaskade: LIVE”
Born outside Chicago, Kaskade developed a thirst for house music at an early age. Bouncing around between Chi-town, Salt Lake City and San Francisco, his career finally began to take off in the Bay Area. A job offer from OM Records cemented his popularity and the subsequent explosion of EDM.
Kaskade attributes his success to a childhood spent in the choir and a fundamental understanding of pitch and harmony. Rejecting the notion that EDM is simply kids playing with their computers, Kaskade approaches his craft like any renowned painter, singer or sculptor. He draws from a wide range of influences to piece together veritable symphonies of layered beats.
Another one of Kaskade’s talents is his ability to recognize and recruit talent. It’s progressed him into a trusted A&R Director, and allowed him to continually create the EDM ecosystem by splicing his own music with others. By building the industry around him, Kaskade has been integral to the explosive growth of EDM, through the promotion of festivals, concerts and arena shows.
After the dawn of the digital download, the music industry turned to touring to generate more sustainable revenue. The inimitable, electrifying experience of Kaskade’s live shows and of DJs like him keeps listeners loyal and buying tickets. Artists have ramped up the concert-going experience, from running human-sized hamster balls across crowds to speakers ten times as powerful as the roar of a jet engine. Still, there’s no substitute for quality music coming out of those things, and with Kaskade it always is.
To put things in perspective, Kaskade was the first electronic act to sell out the Staples Center. His music is not only blasted at every frat party in America, but he also has legions of 10-year-old followers across the world. The beauty of his music is that anyone can relate. There is none of the misogynies, braggadocio, or sap found in other club music. It is simply, beats. Throw on his Coachella 2012 set and try not to bob your head.
Kaskade is not only changing what’s on your iPod, but also changing the way we define music. The parameters of artistry must now include those who lead the EDM movement. Like any musician, Kaskade pieces together portions of his experiences and inspirations to create a sound unlike any of his competitors, yet at the same time entirely representative of the genre.
His musical prowess is complemented by his role as a father and devout husband. While many associate EDM with ecstasy fueled nights and marijuana filled days, Kaskade abstains from alcohol and drugs. He assures the same purity in his music – delivering clean, layered synths over rhythmic bass.
Check out The Craft to dive into the inner world of the man changing electronica forever.
Ben Mones was imported to Brooklyn from the west coast in an egg transport truck. He claims to have come up with the idea for the League of Nations, although the League’s rise and fall was well before his birth. He likes to use big words like “egg transport” and “truck.”