Kaskade: Letting the music speak

Back when Ryan Raddon first started touring Australia as Kaskade, he was making deep, vocal-led house as part of the Om Records family. In 2013, he’s a stadium act in North America and a mainstage drawcard at festivals around the world. In demeanour, Raddon is still the chilled-out San Fran dude, but his music has amplified. “10 years ago for me, a big room was 500 people,” he told inthemix in July last year. “Now a big room is the mainstage at Electric Daisy Carnival. Things have changed and I think that’s affected my sound.”

Raddon seems genuinely awed with dance music’s Stateside boom, and he’s played it expertly. In 2012, he set off around the U.S. on the 55-date Freaks Of Nature tour, packing out the kind of amphitheatres and concert halls usually reserved for top-line rock acts. However, the progression of Kaskade from a low-key producer to a bona-fide headliner has left some fans griping.

Raddon addressed that criticism in a typically astute blog post this week, simply titled ‘You Sold Out’. “In fifteen years of making music, it should not be surprising to know that what I create in 2013 is going to be very different from what I did in 1998,” he wrote. “I think it would be more startling to have not moved in any direction in that time. I look back at tracks like It’s You, It’s Me and it’s meaningful to me still. But if I continued to recycle that one vibe, over all this time, I’m pretty sure no one would be left listening to even weigh in on if I’d sold out or not. Not only that, but when a track is finished, it’s the end of that sentence.”

Raddon arrives in Australia this weekend for the Sydney and Gold Coast Big Day Out stops, with a couple of club shows on the side. We called him up in L.A. for a quick pre-tour chat.

I spoke to you about six months ago, and you were right in the thick of the Freaks Of Nature tour. How did that all wind up?

It was awesome. It was a huge undertaking, a ton of work, but a lot of fun. It was far and away the most expensive tour I’ve ever done, but it was kind of like doing a workout: as you’re doing it, it sucks, then afterwards it’s like, that was awesome! The tour was the big deal for me last year. I really didn’t put out much music, so it was really just a lot of touring. Even outside the Freaks Of Nature tour I was just doing a lot of touring. Some of the highlights were Coachella, Lollapalooza in Chicago – I don’t know man, I played some crazy festivals!

What do you see as the potential risks in a boom like America’s?

Yeah, what’s the downside to such explosive growth…Listen, I’m sure people who’ve been into dance music for a while understand that it has been around forever. It’s been going crazy here for close to a decade I would say; it’s just really intensified these last two years. And all that is about is a younger audience being able to find the music; of course there can be problems with that, because a younger audience might not be as educated about the music. We’re just experiencing growth problems. My show here in L.A. was at the Staples Centre and they only allow a few thousand people on the floor, and the rest of the place has seats.

As far as a downside, I don’t know man, from my position it all seems like an upside! There does need to be some education. It’s like, “Cool, so you know Swedish House Mafia? Save The World? OK. There are other songs out there too.” It’ll be cool to see these people discover artists who aren’t so mainstream and right in their face. That’s the cool thing about this; it’s been cooking in the underground for over two decades, so there’s a lot of great music out there if you’re inclined to find it.

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