Kaskade (aka Ryan Raddon) is having a pretty good year. The DJ and producer just released his ninth full-length LP, “Automatic,” after spending the summer headlining festivals like Lollapalooza, Chasing Summer, and Nocturnal Wonderland.
But it was back in April, during Coachella’s successive weekends, that he actually made history.
As this year’s only electronic artist featured on the main stage, the progressive house DJ drew the two largest crowds the music and arts festival has seen in its 16 years of existence.
Considering he even topped acts like Madonna, Prince, Paul McCartney, and Kanye West, the accomplishment is almost unfathomable.
In anticipation of Kaskade’s Oct. 2 stop at Sleep Train Amphitheatre (the first night that he will use the massive Coachella stage set-up since April), DiscoverSD recently spoke with affable performer from his Los Angeles home.
Kaskade, with CID and Galantis
When: 8 p.m. Cot. 2
Where: Sleep Train Amphitheater, 2050 Entertainment Circle, Chula Vista
Q: So let’s just get Coachella out of the way. Is it even possible for you to articulate what those two shows were like?
A: I’ve been trying to articulate what it meant to me, and what that moment was like, since it happened. And I’ve been unable to do it. I just tell people to watch the drone footage. I was standing there and experiencing it for myself, but I really just couldn’t even believe it.
Q: How does it rank among all of the special moments of your career?
A: It changed things. I’ve honestly been floating on cloud nine for the entire year because of those shows. It set the tone for me. And let’s put it this way - there was a version of “Automatic” pre-Coachella and there was one after. It changed everything. Not only was it personally validating, but when so many people have panned this music, thought it was a flash in the pan, or just couldn’t be bothered with it over the years, those shows made it all melt away for me.
Q: And you’re using the same set-up in San Diego?
A: Yes. San Diego is first place where the full A-stage rig is being used since it was seen at Coachella with 100,000 other people.
Q: Do you enjoy that side of things?
A: I do. But there’s been a huge learning curve for me. Thinking back to my first shows in San Diego, they were in a basement piano bar on the main avenue of the Gaslamp District. So going from 100 kids there, to 20,000 in Chula Vista, is a big change. But I’ve learned. It’s an enormous amount of work to get that element right - to get it to a point where you can entertain that many people. When I play a venue like Staples Center, or I’m down in Chula Vista, it’s a humongous stage. Just me up there on a card table wouldn’t work. It wouldn’t translate.
Q: In recent years, the presentation of electronic music has gotten so large and cinematic. Is it possible to get even bigger?
A: It is. And that just shows that electronic music is the music of now. Although we’ve gotten our place in pop culture, I think some people are still fighting that. But it really is the music of now and the entertainment of now. And the shows reflect that so much. Even five years ago, people were still having a hard time believing that this kind of music could fill arenas, sell out amphitheaters, or that these festivals could grow to the size they are today. It’s pretty unbelievable. But I think that’s exactly what’s added to these new levels of production taking such an important role.
Q: And you’re comfortable with that?
A: I’ve been doing this for a long time. So I’m extremely comfortable with that side of things. For me, I look at it as an opportunity to grow, learn and expand the show. I’ve got the audio element down. I know how to do that. But it’s been great to add a visual element to it as well. I feel very at home in front of these massive LED walls because the music calls for that kind of look. They really do work hand-in-hand.
Q: “Automatic” just came out. After more than a decade of doing this, do you still get anxious when you release a new record?
A: I still get really excited and anxious. And in part, that’s due to the fact that I really want people to hear it. An album is a process. It takes a really long time to put together. And I put my heart and soul into it - no matter how many times I do it. That’s just part of the process for me.
Q: So it’s all just business as usual?
A: I’ve never been on the radio. And I’ve never really had any kind of pop-crossover success. But it’s still very exciting for me to play new music for people. That’s the part I really love about what I do. It’s cool to sit in a studio, pump my fist, and think that I might have something. But when I can see the reactions when I play it for people, and I can enjoy it with them - that’s what it’s all about for me.
Scott McDonald is a writer, on-air personality and consultant with 15 years of experience in the San Diego music scene. He has interviewed hundreds of artists, from the legendary to the underground, for print and television. Follow McDonald and his melodic musings on Twitter @eight24_ or Instagram @scotteight24. Send your music musts to email@example.com.