Kaskade, the multi-Grammy nominated, DJ, producer, singer/songwriter, was welcomed to the BYU campus with cheers and applause of faculty, students and Utah Valley visitors before his Q&A conference in the Varsity Theater on Sept. 4.
Ryan Raddon, also known as Kaskade, became interested in house music at a young age. Raddon grew up in Northbrook, Illinois, and he and his brothers frequently attended teen nightclubs in Chicago, where house music began in the early 1980s.
Artists such as Kraftwerk were frequently being played, and it pushed Raddon to start collecting vinyl of his favorite artists and begin DJ’ing at the age of 15.
Raddon headed to BYU in 1989 with crates full of records, and he began to DJ parties with his friends. “I didn’t consider myself a DJ back then. I was more of a novice music enthusiast,” Raddon described.
He left BYU to serve a full-time mission in Japan, and then returned to Utah and transferred to the University of Utah where he purchased his first pieces of equipment. This included a CD burner which at the time cost around $2500.
Raddon moved to San Francisco in 2000 with his wife and realized at the time there was “a music renaissance” with new labels, studios and sold-out shows. During this time, he was cutting together songs to make tracks and realized that there was an ebb and flow in music and that to create something lasting, he needed to change his style.
“If you can couple something that is sonically interesting with lyrics that are captivating and a melody that is unforgettable, that is something that is going to last,” Raddon said.
Based on that fundamental idea, Kaskade has spent almost 30 years producing nine studio albums and touring the world. His first show was in Seoul, Korea and he got paid $50 to play in front of a 30-person crowd. Each time he played, the crowd grew.
“There’s something about his sound that hits home for me and I really connect with,” said Stephanie Hathaway, who heard about his concert through Twitter. Hathaway met her husband when selling her ticket to the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas after learning that Kaskade was no longer playing.
Kaskade flew between his job in San Francisco and Utah to meet with artists and work on tracks. He has featured many Provo artists on his albums over the years, such as The Brocks who opened for him at Provo’s Rooftop Concert Series and were featured on his track “Summer Nights.”
Many at the Q&A conference sought advice as to how to “make it big” as a musician. Raddon bluntly said that “(he) was willing to work hard to get people to hear his music.” He admitted that he would have played for a cheeseburger.
Raddon said that Soundcloud is one of the best music-promotion tools on the Internet.
BYU student Coulsen Phillips learned about Raddon’s hard work. “While so many people in the music industry get a quick big break into stardom, Kaskade told us how he earned his place through extremely hard work and sacrifice over more than 20 years. It’s hard to not respect that,” Phillips said.
Raddon’s family attended the BYU conference, and Raddon talked briefly about how he is more prone to perform shows that he can take his whole family to. Raddon described taking his family on the road with him for eight weeks during the “Freaks of Nature Tour,” a tour that spanned 43 shows, many of which sold out.
Kaskade headlined the Rooftop Concert series with thousands in attendance, singing his mashup track “Something Something Champs,” which kicked off the final night of the summer. Kaskade will be releasing his ninth studio album, “Automatic” on Sept. 25 under the Arkade Label.