WATCH: Kaskade talks about the future of music and his decades long journey to the top
IVY, the world’s first “Social University,” held an event last week featuring world-renowned DJ and Producer Kaskade. While the producer didn’t hop on the 1’s and 2’s this time around, he did talk about the future of global music and how to command a global audience, giving his personal perspective on the topics with over a decade of knowledge and experience in the industry.
For his unique talk, Kaskade spoke to an audience assembled at IVY, a university that specializes in arts, entrepreneurship, policy, social impact and more. The institution is virtually a breeding ground for the next generation of self-starters, bringing in featured speakers every month that are Industry leaders and entrepreneurs alike. In the past, they’ve hosted the likes of Hugh Jackman, Daniel Radcliffe, and Jack Welch (former CEO of GE) among others.
This time around, they decided to bring in producer Ryan Raddon, who has arguably become one of the most successful curators and performers in dance music history. Raddon has notably been DJing since the 90s and started making music before the EDM phenomenon (as we know it) even began.
At the event, the dynamic producer talked about everything from family, collaborations, performing, utilizing social media, making it in the industry and more. A full summary of his talk lives right here on Dancing Astronaut, but the full interview, which was streamed live, lives on IVY’s Facebook page here:
The talk was mostly a question and answer session with an acute mediator who did a great job at honing into the key elements of Kaskade’s career and getting his two-cents on where dance music is headed.
He starts off by talking about collaborating with big name artists and how he’s mostly worked with A-listers during the remix process, saying: “The big people that I have worked with is typically on remix stuff…Early on in dance music, people were trying to take singles that didn’t have a lot of traction on the radio [and saying] hey, it’s a good song, let’s have this guy reproduce or remix it and then it can be played in the nightclubs…cool people hanging out nightclubs.”
Raddon notably has remixed everyone from Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Imagine Dragons (more recently), adding in that his dream collaboration right now would be with Lana Del Rey. His remixing ability has definitely proven to be one of his best attributes, as those compositions are what usually gets the crowd moving when he’s playing the festival main stage.
Raddon also spoke at length about the future of the industry, and how streaming services are pushing the industry in exciting new directions. For most of his career, he noted, labels were broke, but now with Spotify, Apple Music and other streaming services labels have the funds to get behind the creativity of artists to help things flourish.
“Very hard to create when your stone cold broke and nobody believes in you,” said Raddon. “Over the next 10 years, we will see streaming platforms work and flow money into the artists…there will be a lot more people out there making great music.”
When asked about the current state of dance music, Raddon was candid about his strong belief that it is still in its infancy and he’s excited to see the next wave. New music breaking now, he argued, is mostly surface level.
When asked about the rigor of the jet setting lifestyle, Raddon describes his journey which, though tough at times, has never seemed “like a chore.” Towards the beginning, when he played his first small show overseas in the 90s, he was sleeping on the promoter’s floor and found himself questioning whether or not he wanted to stick to that career path.
Fortunately the two decades since have seen a steady progression for the producer making it to bigger and better shows—and hopefully more comfortable sleeping conditions. Raddon, who says he’s likely played more than 5,000 shows, is arguably one of the happiest-looking DJs behind the decks. At 46 years old, he’s probably still having more fun than anyone in the crowd.
On the topic of social media, Raddon argued that while it has allowed him to have a direct and more personal connection with his fans on a global scale, it has also had a major impact on the industry in general. “It has been bridging the gap and has changed things, where you have a lot of kind-of famous people instead of just a small amount of famous people.”
When asked about the most important thing to focus on if you’re looking to make it big as a DJ/producer, he kept it simple: “the music.”
Lastly, the producer maintained that despite the craziness of touring and what the gig requires, he’s been able to stay grounded and start a family. With a wife and three kids, family is the most important thing to him.
“My rise was very steady and slow and not overnight,” said Raddon. “I really appreciate where I am now.”