We ask 'America's best DJ' whether he lives up to lofty title
Back home in the States, Kaskade is huge: one of a handful of DJs to rise to notoriety following America’s belated love affair with electronic music. The 41-year-old father of three was recently called the ‘new face of electronic dance music’ by The New York Times, and voted ‘America’s Best DJ’ last year by readers of US music tome DJ Times.
Often mentioned in the same sentence as the likes of Deadmau5 and Skrillex (both of whom he’s worked with), Ryan Raddon is yet to enjoy the same success abroad as many of his American contemporaries. But he’s set to conquer the Middle East when he headlines at dXb Music Festival at Festival City on Friday October 5.
Why has electronic music suddenly exploded in the US? Was it the music that changed, or the public? Both. The music matured and became more palatable, and with hip-hop owning the airwaves for so long, the public was ready for something new.
Where can it go now? How long do you think electronic music can stay mainstream? I think it will continue to grow and expand. I’m not sure how the music will change, but this hasn’t gone mainstream yet. Not even close. Outside of one or two artists, this music is not played on the radio at all. I’ve never had a song of mine on the radio. We still have a way to go. Radio is the final frontier.
You were lucky enough to grow up in Chicago’s suburbs, near where the house music scene kicked off. Do you think you’d be a famous DJ today if you’d grown up in another city? Probably not – the city of Chicago had a profound effect on me as a child. I was really into what was going on with the music at a time when I was really forming my own taste and style.
Describe your personality? Relaxed.
And your greatest vice? Loud music.
How do you like to enjoy your new-ish wealth? Ha! Ummmm… I haven’t been at home long enough to spend any of it, so right now it’s just sitting there waiting for the day I go deaf.
Modern DJs get a lot of criticism for playing the same set night after night. How much of your set varies at each gig? I’m all over the place, constantly changing my sets. When I did my ‘Freaks of Nature’ tour this summer, I played similar sets a lot because it was more of a concert and I was playing all my own material, but when I’m DJing I go all over the place.
How do you write? On planes and in cars? Do you need the studio? I prefer to chill in the studio and take my time. But these days I’m short on time, so I write more on the road. I like to have a solid idea before I go into something, but that doesn’t happen all the time. Basically there’s no set formula.
Who’s the best-known musician you’ve turned down the opportunity to work with? I’m not a ‘decline and tell’, but I have been hit up by a lot of major pop acts that are relevant right now.
Where will Kaskade be in 2020? Chilling on a beach somewhere. Kaskade plays dXb Music Festival on October 5, 5pm-2am, Dhs350-500. Festival Park, Dubai Festival City, www.dxbfestival.ae.
Also at dXb Festival…
AfroJack While he may be best known for dumping Paris Hilton earlier this year, Dutch superstar DJ Nick van de Wall – aka AfroJack (pictured above) – has enough commercial clout to go it alone. Breakout hit ‘Take Over Control’, featuring Eva Simons, is still a dancefloor fave. Old Jack is also credited on Pitbull’s 2011 chart topper ‘Give Me Everything’, and worked with the decade’s most consistent hit-maker, David Guetta, on ‘Lunar’.
Far East Movement Silky-safe hip-hop quartet Far East Movement are best known for the honour of being the first Asian-American act to score a US Billboard number one, with 2010 hit ‘Like a G6’. Since then they’ve gone on to work with Snoop Dogg, Roger Sanchez… and a certain Justin Bieber.