Distracting Kaskade: A Fleeting Interview

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It seems paradoxical that a man like Ryan Raddon has a hard time focusing on one thing for a long period of time. I mean, okay, he might have an inclination towards residential impermanence, a relocating itch if you will, spurring him to live in multiple metropolises throughout the world, namely New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo and San Francisco. Close friends even go so far as calling him “Big City” because of this. And alright, he admits that he gets overwhelmed easily and necessitates that messiness and incorrectly folded shirts can prevent him from getting anything productive done or even getting dressed. Concentration for him is like a camouflaged needle in a haystack of the uncontrollable and unpredictable.

Sure, Raddon has some paralyzing anxieties, but of course, that's only half of the paradox. The contentious part of this contradiction rests in his chosen career, one that requires a tremendous amount of dedication, focus and an inhuman ability to deal with constantly evolving environments and situations-gone-wrong. In fact, dearly devoted electronic music fans, you probably know Ryan by his other nickname: Kaskade. Originally hailing from Chicago, Raddon has conquered the electronic dance music world in the past decade, as well as your hearts. If anything, the title of America’s Best DJ of 2011 that he was awarded earlier this year is a testament to his command over EDM accolades and his profound skill, an amazing feat considering the Fire & Ice (released via Ultra Music) producer probably has full-on adult ADHD.

But if there’s anything that snaps Raddon into focus, it’s his family. Seeing his daughter being born was like swallowing a considerable dose of Adderall XR, streamlining his prior goals and ambitions, and sharpening his notions of what is truly important in his life. I had a chance to distract Kaskade for a moment. What follows is our brief discussion on his music, scoring movies and smuggling spider monkeys.

When I was younger I unsuccessfully tried to smuggle a spider monkey back into the US after a vacation to Peru. The monkey was cool. I’m still mad that the border patrol confiscated him.

Kaskade "Peace On Earth" (2011 Re-Master) (right click, save as to download)

Your music in one word:
Big.

What got you to where you are now?
Hard work and some good luck along the way.

And your skills? Were they innate or groomed?
I was probably born with half, but I had to work and earn the other half.

Things you would tell yourself if you could do it again?
Be more patient.

Record labels and the music industry—what’s your take?
Record labels, as we know them will cease to exist. They will become marketing groups that partner with artists in unique opportunities that include touring and branding. The idea of selling music is outdated. I realized this a while ago and it is part of the reason I tour so relentlessly.

In an interview with Blogcritics.org you talk about “a chance to bring it home,” referencing your residency in Las Vegas as a chance to bring a new movement of electronic music to America. How do you feel about the EDM scene in the US now?
That interview was done a few years ago right before I started that particular weekly event. At that time I felt like the American electronic music scene was being overlooked a lot. It’s funny to think of that now since people recognize this as the new home for EDM. A lot has changed in a short amount of time.

Your songs have been used in games like DJ Hero and even the Golden Eye remake for the Wii. Do you foresee yourself creating an actual soundtrack for any future games or movies?
I have always been interested in scoring movies and hopefully someday the right opportunity will come along.

Fire & Ice was a massive hit across the charts. Ten years ago, did you think your seventh studio album would be garnering this much attention?
I never thought that my music would reach this many people. It is really rewarding to see it go this far.

Songwriting and producing—do you follow a specific process?
Nothing is really required except an idea that can be made into a song. It starts simple and just grows from there.

Does “Angel On My Shoulder” have anything to do with maintaining your faith and religious ideals within the EDM scene?
It does not but that is a great interpretation.

Any artists or movements that particularly influenced you?
I grew up just outside of Chicago and the house music movement of the ‘80s really inspired me. There was a raw and synthetic feel to the music but yet it had so much emotion. I was intrigued right away. I found house because at that time in Chicago it was hard to miss. All anyone had to do was tune into the radio.

What about your experience as a missionary in Japan?
I am not sure that any one particular experience has directly influenced my music. It is more about the collective of experiences that is my life that has really formed who I am as a person and an artist.

Favor us with a moment that drastically changed your life.
Witnessing the birth of my first child changed me. For the first time I understood that many of the things that I had worked so hard to achieve were not as important as I had thought. It inspired me to focus on what I love and not worry about the small things.

Scariest moment of your life?
I was on a flight from London to Chicago and a fire started in the cockpit of the plane. Luckily we were close enough to Reykjavik to make an emergency landing and I am here to tell about it.

Most interesting travel experience or run-in with customs/airport security?
When I was younger I unsuccessfully tried to smuggle a spider monkey back into the US after a vacation to Peru. The monkey was cool. I’m still mad that the border patrol confiscated him.

And on a random note, here’s a video (part 1 of a 2 part installment) documenting Kaskade’s sold out 2-night Halloween Fire & Ice release event at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City