The veteran house DJ showcases his more intimate side at this weekend’s electronic dance music festival.
Since its debut in 2015, CRSSD’s bi-annual weekend of electronic dance music has played host to an impressive roster of headliners and special guests.
Alongside a consistently consummate lineup of the best beat makers in the biz, the two-day fest has given top billing to the likes of Flume, Odesza, Rüfüs Du Sol and LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy. CRSSD promoters can also brag on the fact that they booked international teenage superstar Billie Eilish back in 2017 for what she told the crowd was her “first festival.”
And while this year’s list of scheduled performers is once again filled with should-be highlights – from Fisher and Kaytranada to Portugal. The Man and Richie Hawtin – it also features a special set from none other than Kaskade.
The L.A.-based, seven-time Grammy-nominated producer, DJ, and songwriter (aka Ryan Raddon) is undeniably one of the most recognizable names in electronic music today – and has been for much of his nearly 20-year career.
As Kaskade, Raddon has headlined festivals across the globe, twice been voted “America’s Best DJ,” collaborated with artists like deadmau5 and Skrillex, and counts Imagine Dragons, Beyoncé, Britney Spears, and Lady Gaga among the long list of artists he’s officially remixed.
In 2015, as the only electronic artist featured on the main stage, the progressive house DJ made history by drawing the largest crowd Coachella had ever seen in its 16 years of existence.
Sine then, however, he’s scaled things back a bit.
He debuted his first-ever Christmas album in 2017, and in May, Raddon released the third installment in his ongoing throwback series, Redux 003. Preceded by a pair of Redux EPs in 2014 and 2017, the 18-song collection is the first full-length entry in the anthology originally conceived to eschew pop trappings and elaborate production.
The Kaskade shows accompanying these releases have also taken a back-to-basics approach, swapping amphitheaters and massive production budgets for warehouses with little more than a sound system, becoming a fan-favorite in the process.
And now, Raddon brings his latest Redux set to CRSSD.
“I do these shows because I love them,” he said recently from his home in L.A. “It’s a bit indulgent on my side. I like playing stuff that is inspiring me and not being locked into such a routine. A big percent of the shows I do now are these massive festivals where the production is humongous. And I feel like that can be a bit inhibiting.”
Although the Redux shows started as a more intimate yin to the yang of playing to the blur of 50 thousand fans, in recent years, that gap has started to close.
“There’s just been more and more interest,” said Raddon. “Things started selling out instantly. We were going to the biggest warehouse spaces we could find. And it was still selling out instantly. But the idea with Redux was always to go into these smaller spaces, throw it back, keep it really simple, and keep it just about the music.”
The thought that a beloved, veteran DJ could continue to keep his smaller shows, well, small, was perhaps a bit of a stretch. But no matter how many tickets these Redux shows continue to sell (almost every date on the current tour is already sold out), Raddon is trying to keep things in line with his original idea.
“There’s a way to bring this experience to more people,” he said. “And we’re not always going to get it right. But this CRSSD show marks the first time I’ve played a Redux show at any kind of festival or weekend party and not a warehouse or theater. But in the sprit of what Redux has become in 2019, I’m trying to bring that to a few more people. And for me, it’s all harkening back to how I fell in love with this scene in the beginning.”
It’s also showcasing the fact that Kaskade is an artist who seems completely comfortable in his own skin and career. Whether it’s playing for tens of thousands of fans washed in the bright lights of opulent production, or a couple of thousand fans bathed in nothing more than what’s coming out of an on-stage fog machine, the veteran house DJ is still ruled by something more than the next big thing.
“When I started,” said Raddon, “the LED screen technology didn’t even exist yet. It was a much simpler time. It was more about the music. And that’s why I’ll always carve time out to do this. I’ve just been making music for so long now, there’s going to be different facets to what I do. Taking it back into some warehouse or grimy club and playing records that are not overly produced and just move you – that’s what keeps me going. And this CRSSD show is in the spirit of that.”
Kaskade, Sunday at the CRSSD Festival. Waterfront Park, 1600 Pacific Coast Highway, downtown. Sold out; crssdfest.com