Last week, one of America’s best DJs/producers, Kaskade (real name Ryan Raddon) brought the house down at Zouk Club Kuala Lumpur. But prior to that, we had the opportunity to speak with the EDM maestro and he answered some of the many, many burning questions that we had for him including his current musical style, the reason behind the change, his upcoming collaborations (because we know how awesome the ones that he did with deadmau5, Skrillex, and Swanky Tunes were), and his dark K-Pop secret.
Dark K-Pop secret. Yup, you best believe it:
Welcome back, Ryan. It has been like, five years since you were last in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. What took you so long?
“I don’t know, I’m very busy. It’s hard for me to get everywhere and there are kids in Mexico screaming at me every day because I haven’t been to Mexico in three years. And Mexico is closer than you guys! It’s hard to be everywhere and no, I honestly don’t remember the last time I came here. But if I saw a picture of the club I probably would remember the night – I have a very good memory!”
So, what were you looking forward to most when you knew that you were coming back to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?
“Well, I don’t get to come to Asia very often. I only come here once or twice a year and even then I have to split it up between like, Japan and South Asia, and Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur..there are about 10 or 12 cities in Asia that are doing amazing things. So for me it’s always exciting to come here and I haven’t been here in five years so it’s awesome. I’m excited! And Zouk Singapore is a big deal, it’s probably one of my favourite clubs in the world. It’s good to come experience Zouk in a different city.”
We’ve been following your music for years now and here’s the one thing that we’ve noticed – your sound has changed. Why is that?
“Yes! I think it’s because I kept getting booked into bigger and bigger rooms. For me, 10 years ago, I’d play something that best suits a room for 200 or 300 people – not much bigger than this office that we’re in right now. But the songs were getting popular and it was hard to play that slow and that mellow in a room with 2,000 to 5,000 people. Then I started getting booked at festivals a few years ago and can you imagine playing in front of 40,000 people, a record at 120bpm you know, very slow and melodic? I think playing at those festivals affected a person and as an artiste so I started playing harder, tougher, and more energetic, and it just seemed more interesting at this pace. I just kinda like..gravitated to it. But I still think that my songs, the general theme and feel of my music, even though it’s harder now, I think it still feels very authentic and similar to the way it did 15 years ago. It’s just that the production side of it is tougher.”
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People have been accustomed to the “San Francisco house” style though so how are your fans adapting to that change?
“I’m still honest and truthful in what I’m creating but I can’t keep writing the same song over and over again. I mean, even people who are huge fans of those collaborations that I did with deadmau5, ‘Move For Me’ and ‘I Remember’, they’re like..why don’t you make stuff like that anymore? I’m like..I don’t know, you can only write one song, one time. ‘It’s You, It’s Me’, it’s there, I wrote that 12 years ago but I can’t write that song again. No matter what I do, if I go back, it’s still going to be different.”
Pray tell, are there any interesting future projects or collaborations that we should be expecting from you?
“I have an album that’s coming out pretty soon and..I don’t have too many collaborations on the album now that I think about it. Hmm (laughs). I’m sure there’s some interesting stuff around the corner somewhere. I mean, I get hit up for collaborations all the time but you know, I’m just waiting for the right thing. Like, when I worked with Skylar Grey on ‘Room For Happiness’, I reached out to her because I was like..wow, I really love your songwriting and your voice is perfect for what I do so we should try and connect! I’m always looking for people that I think would be the right fit for my music but you don’t find those people every day.”
So, we’re living in the digital age now, right, where production gear is a lot more accessible, coupled with the advent of social media. How has that affected your career as a producer?
“It has changed everything. These days, stuff is instant. I mean, my newest song, ‘Atmosphere’ is not even out yet but I played it at Ultra Music Festival in front of 60,000 people and just last week, someone tweeted me a picture of a tattoo with the lyrics on it! It’s amazing. And because 60,000 people in Ultra Music Festival heard it and recorded it and downloaded, millions of people would’ve heard ‘Atmosphere’ by now. Everything moves very fast now and the commercial side of it hasn’t even caught up. If I write a song tomorrow on the airplane, I could play it tomorrow in Jakarta and it could be out there in a week or two. So it has changed everything – the flow of information moves very quickly and artistes aren’t so tied to labels anymore. They can create their own fan base via social media and give them music directly.”
Let’s talk about inspirations for a bit. Who are the top five producers that you look up to and why?
“Top five producers hmm..who’s doing really cool stuff? There are these guys, Galantis. They actually don’t have anything out yet but they’ve been sending me music and I think that they’re going to be the next big thing. They are writing music that is incredibly, completely intriguing and fresh sounding so I’m a huge fan of them. Who else is out there? Hmm. I almost feel like I need to open up my iTunes for your question (laughs). Obviously I’m a fan of deadmau5, the Swanky Tunes guys, and even people like Skrillex is doing really amazing stuff. There are a lot of people doing cool stuff right now in fact, it’s crazy! It’s so hard to keep up.”
Last question! Do you, Kaskade, have any guilty listening pleasures on your playlist? Like stuff your fans would be completely shocked at..
“Uh, I like K-Pop. There’s some really good K-Pop that’s cool. I do like BIGBANG, they’re cool. There’s a lot of good K-Pop out there – the real stuff, not the ‘Gangnam Style’ type.”
What did we tell you? Dark K-Pop secret, revealed! Thank you so much, Ryan, for speaking to us and for being so accommodating. And of course, special thanks to our friends from Zouk Club Kuala Lumpur for making this interview happen.