Ryan Raddon, best known by his stage name as "Kaskade," is a D.J. and producer who has reached an astounding level of success, while remaining true to his faith and values. The famed 40-year-old, who may make as much as $200,000 per night, was recently voted America's best D.J. for 2011 by D.J. Times and Pioneer D.J.
While Raddon's success continues to grow, some would be surprised to learn that he's deeply religious, doesn't drink and is the father to three small children. After all, when one considers the influences present in club life -- drugs, alcohol and incessant partying -- it's easy to assume that someone with such intense prestige in that arena wouldn't hold stringent views on God and recreation. But he does.
The D.J., who grew up in Northbrook, Illinois, began delving deeply into the house-music scene during his teen years. According to a profile in the New York Times, in 1989, Raddon enrolled at Brigham Young University in hopes of meeting other Mormons. While he was taking the steps needed to get his education, his began acting upon his sincere love for music.
He was so devoted that he even had a turntable in his dorm room. “Everyone was like, ‘Who is this weird kid from Chicago?,'” he explains. Little did they know, though, that the "weird kid" would soon end up dazzling fans around the globe.
At 19, Raddon went to Japan as a Mormon missionary and then transferred two years later to the University of Utah. It was there that he met his wife, Naomi. Interestingly, his love for music continued to sprout in Salt Lake City, where he ran a record store called Mechanized. It was here that the true roots of his music career began to take shape when he started D.J.-ing a weekly, Monday night party at a hangout called Club Manhattan.
Raddon and Naomi then decided to move to the San Francisco to be near her family. It was here that Raddon got a job as an A&R director at OM Records, which is a house and electronica music label. In his position, he helped kick-start the careers of new artists. But eventually, he also became an artist.
In 2003, the label released his first album, called "It's You, It's Me." And after looking at a nature magazine, as the Times reports, Raddon decided to go with the name "Kaskade" -- a namesake his wife feared would remind fans too much of dish detergent.
Recently, the famed club D.J. released his seventh studio album called, "Fire & Ice." For those who aren't familiar with club music or who don't know Kascade, his success may be somewhat odd. After all, he's not a household name, but he's increasing in popularity every day.
His album, which recently came out on iTunes, debuted at No. 4 on the overall album chart (right behind artists like Kelly Clarkson and Michael Bublé). Below, listen to "Eyes," the first single off of his new album:
Raddon, whose love for music clearly drives his success and passion, has lofty goals for his career. Rather than simply making music to turn a quick buck, he's devoted to churning out quality.
About his new album he says, "I don’t want to make a record that can only be listened to at two a.m. I wanted it to say more, to be musical, to stand up on its own so somebody who might not know about dance music or might not listen to it all the time would still be able to put it on and be like, 'Man, this whole thing is interesting.'"
Billboard has more about Raddon's growing success:
Kaskade is one of dance's true road warriors, regularly playing more than 100 DJ shows per year. In 2011, he headlined the 19-date Identity Festival, playing for 140,000-plus fans at venues like San Diego's Cricket Wireless Amphitheater and the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, N.Y. He has the only double-residency in Las Vegas: Wynn's Encore Beach Club and Cosmopolitan's Marquee. His two-night, Halloween-themed stint at Roseland was a sellout.
It's interesting, considering all of his fame and club influence, that Raddon appears to be so grounded. While his audience, which is clearly infatuated with both his music and his presence, may engage in drug and substance use during his performance, Raddon remains straight edge.
“I’m not promoting drugs or anything,” he says. “Club culture is about leaving your cares behind, and I am trying to create that environment. I honestly don’t think you need to be high to enjoy that.” Clearly, Raddon is aware that others don't share this sentiment, but he's willing to look past that.
“Are people taking drugs? Yes. I’m not naïve,” he claims. “I know that there are people out there who are high. Yeah, I wish they wouldn’t do that. You can still enjoy this performance and have a great experience sober.”
Considering his faith, it's interesting to hear him discuss what it's like for him to discuss his faith and career with those who are less-than-comfortable with the club lifestyle. Other Mormons, he says, sometimes confront him and claim that he's promoting a more negative lifestyle and culture. This, of course, he denies.
For Raddon, it's all about the music. His straight-edge nature and intense personal faith mixed with his pumping club beats, make him quite an interesting character.
(H/T: New York Times)