After growing up in Chicago and passing through New York and Salt Lake City, Ryan Raddon — better known to his thousands of fans as Kaskade — came to San Francisco. It was here, among the city's flourishing early-2000s house scene, that Raddon came into his own as a DJ/producer of electronic dance music.
Now, Kaskade, like many of his peers, is huge. He's been named America's Best DJ. He's been featured in Rolling Stone. The L.A. stop of his Freaks of Nature tour at the Staples Center this Friday night (July 27) is sold out, as is his show the following night, July 28, at San Francisco's Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. We recently spoke to the former S.F. resident about what it's like to come back to the city, his thoughts on why dance music had to evolve to become popular in the U.S., stereotypes about drugs in the dance scene, and what he's really doing onstage during a live show.
You basically got your start here in S.F. Do you see the city as having a particular influence on your style?
Most definitely. When I first moved there in 2000, Naked Music and Om Records were really getting so much national and international attention. It was all this kind of huge wave of electronic music that was more vocal-driven. 'Cause really vocals and songwriting had played a really small role in electronic music up to that point, and I feel like San Francisco is one of those cities that kind of helped make it more song-based again, make it more musical, and I really just understood that. And San Francisco's where I made my mind up: Okay, instead of doing these kind of Chicago Boompty records I need to really focus more on songwriting and trying to make my music be something that, if I pull it up and listen to it in 10 years, it'll still be relevant. Maybe the production style will have moved on, but the song will still be able to stand on its own.