Where My Head’s At: Kaskade
“Where My Head’s At” is a feature from Dancing Astronaut that gives readers a quick glimpse into an editor’s personal music tastes and how they developed. Subject matter will be all over the map, but we want to let you get a feel for individual editors, and where their heads are at.
Kaskade (aka Ryan Raddon) may have been crowned America’s Best DJ this summer, but he’s held the top spot in my mind — and iTunes library — for years. I was a hip-hop-obsessed high schooler until I stumbled upon Beatport and, with it, Kaskade’s 2006 album, Love Mysterious. As soon as I heard the lush, guitar-laden “4AM,” I was hooked. Kaskade’s sound and skills have grown exponentially since then, with more down-tempo tracks giving way to pounding, club-ready singles and a BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix that I still can’t stop talking about. He’s now struck the perfect balance: ethereal synths and breathy vocals supported by basslines with just the right amount of party-starting kick. I’m all for Dutch or dubstep during a night out, but Raddon’s music has the ability to transcend circumstance: “Don’t Stop Dancing” will sound just as good on a Sunday afternoon as it did the night before.
I’ve tried to explain many times why Kaskade’s songs are so special, and it comes down to this: he doesn’t make music, he creates moments. At this summer’s Identity Festival, Raddon opened his set with “Raining“ as Jones Beach seemed to shake from the lightning cracking through the night, and rain poured down nearly sideways. Everyone was soaked, but no one cared; we all knew we were part of something greater — a collective, dancing whole. Each Kaskade track conjures a different memory for me. I fell in love to “Step One Two,“ turned 21 to “Dynasty,” and I can keep going, but you get the idea. I’m taken back every time those songs play.
Kaskade the producer and DJ is incredible, but Kaskade the laid-back San Francisco resident seems pretty fantastic as well. Nearly every dance artist interacts with fans on Facebook and Twitter, but Kaskade one-ups everyone. In his weekly #KaskadeMusicMondays (or #KMM for short), Raddon releases an exclusive bootleg or rare track on his SoundCloud. Music Monday songs are frequently Kaskade’s own mash-ups that listeners have begged him to release; this spring’s “Angel On My Shoulder Reaver 76” combined a Kaskade classic and two electro-house tracks to dramatic effect. It’s a small gesture that says so much about Kaskade’s commitment gratefulness to his fans — and us fans love him all the more for it.
Fire & Ice, Kaskade’s upcoming seventh album, promises to cater to new and old fans alike. The double disc will feature up-tempo, more hyped-up versions of ten songs on one CD (the “Fire”), and low-key renditions on the other (the “Ice”). Taken as a whole, Fire & Ice will showcase the melodic underpinnings of every Kaskade song, not to mention how far he’s come since his “4AM” days. As a self-proclaimed super-fan, I can’t help but count down the days until it drops.
So, where’s your head at?