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The Grand experience

Acclaimed electronica DJ/producer comes to Whistler armed with material from latest mix album



Who: Kaskade

When: Monday, April 13

Where: Garfinkel's

On Tuesday, Ryan Raddon, better known to lovers of electronica as Kaskade, was in balmy Orange County, hot off some of the biggest industry events of the season: South by South West, the Winter Music Conference, and Ultra Music Festival.

"I kind of knew the show Friday at Bed was going to be 'the one' and, sure enough, that was the most fun, the best event," he said. "It's a smaller room - like a 500-person capacity room - and if you pack 1,000 people in a room that's only supposed to hold 500, you know it's going to be a good party!"

Kaskade is getting ready to head out on tour to promote his latest album, The Grand , which was released just a week ago. Since last June, he's been on the road touring 12 countries to promote the release of Strobelight Seduction , which was met with high acclaim and topped the charts. One of the singles, Move For Me, a collaborative effort with Deadmau5, earned a Juno nomination this year for best dance recording. And unlike Strobelight Seduction , which is an artist album, The Grand is a mix project.

"An artist record, I sit down and spend a few months in the studio writing songs, coming up with lyrics, all the instrumentation - it's a totally different process," he explained. "When I'm doing a mix CD, I'm like, 'Cool, what's going on, what tracks do I really like now, what's leaving an impression on the crowd, what's new?'"

He even contacts producer friends to find out about exciting new projects on the horizon, looking for the freshest material to add to his compilations.

Though he takes a very open approach to all mix projects, Kaskade is also very conscious of how all the pieces fit together.

"I think when people buy a mix CD, they want it to sound similar to the performance they would hear if they come out to a club on Friday or Saturday night," he said.

But whether it's a mix or artist album, Kaskade tries "to capture the essence of the big room sound" that he plays, live, and show that this sound still has an incredible amount of heart and soul. And it isn't an easy feat to capture the energy and essence of a live performance on a recording.

His two older brothers, who brought a whole host of music - everything from the classic rock of Led Zeppelin to the Cure and New Order - into the house, introduced Kaskade to the world of music. But from the time he walked into Medusa's, a club in Chicago, in the mid-80s he was hooked on electronic music.

"That's when I really realized that house is out there, this is more of a movement," he recalled.

Kaskade has released five artist albums, three mix albums, and countless remixes of material from a wide range of talented artists - everyone from Britney Spears and LeAnn Rimes to Seal - over the years, which was a daunting experience, at first.

"When Justin Timberlake asked me to remix, it was just like, 'uh, are you sure? Do you really want to put that responsibility on me? Because I have a lot of respect for his voice and his songwriting ability."

But he soon realized that these artists aren't looking for him to make the sounds better, they just want to a new take on their music, to hear a fresh, different approach.

Kaskade's success has been hard earned.

"I always tell people to figure out really what they love about it. Do you love writing and creating music? Do you enjoy time in the studio? Do you enjoy performing? And whatever it is that you really like, maximize that."

He added that aspiring DJs need to put in the groundwork to truly learn the trade.

"At the beginning, everyone was like, 'dude, your stuff sounds different,' and I think I was scared of that... then I realized that's what's going to set me apart."