By Jacob Katel
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By Jacob Katel
Ryan Raddon is the DJ/producer known to audiences as Kaskade. He admits he's a really bad surfer, though he wears flip-flops. It's soon reinforced that, aside from his inability to ride a barrel, there is plenty that's undeniably Californian about the San Francisco native, who has produced wistful, melody-swathed house music for the past decade. This continues with the recently released Dynasty album, editing together collaborations with a half-dozen vocalists (including Haley and Dragonette's Martina) as well as trance behemoth Tiësto.
Reflecting on Dynasty — "the most dance-related album I've done," he says — Raddon declares his intention to provide "a euphoric, trippy experience... it's music about letting go." And that certainly sounds like a Left Coast attitude. It's a harmonious approach that has been a great success, especially anywhere there's surf, sun, or sand — not just the beach clubs but also the desert, following a triumphant set at Coachella and a recently launched summer residency with the Encore Beach Club at Wynn Las Vegas. What has propelled the Kaskade releases are Raddon's increasingly adept skills at furnishing dance music with more song-based structure than just abstract momentum.
"Maybe it's because [Dynasty] is the sixth record that I've finished, or maybe my attitude has just changed with time, but I just don't care as much as I used to about whether a recording session has the most pristine signal chain, or to spend all my time doing sound design. Now it's more about capturing the emotion of the song," he says. "Lyricism and a good tune have always been as important to me as a cool track, and I feel club music in general is getting more universal and is coming around to what has been my sound. At the same time, I'm presenting more energetic music, and it's funny to see people on the Internet arguing about whether it's a progression or a departure.
"Ten years ago, playing a big room to me was 350 people, and now a big room can be tens of thousands," he continues. "I still feel like my songs emit the same vibe and try to connect on that emotional level, but I do produce differently. The subtleties and the methodology is still there — I'm just going for a more epic sound."
As the name Dynasty is meant to indicate, dance music and Kaskade have become a larger presence across America. Inspired by all he has experienced in the past ten years, Raddon plans to continue tweaking electro-pop love songs that make people dance. The success of Kaskade shows that regions no longer matter, but Raddon loves to carry on a San Francisco tradition of simultaneously soulful, bangin', and serene productions.