Few moments are more sacred than the reprieve Saturday night provides from the daily grind of school and work. Its importance is meant to be emphasized, and thus, a feature dedicated to “doing the night right” was born. Saturday Night Sessions are set around energizing mixes meant to get the party started. New or old, each episode has one cornerstone thing in similarity: they serve as the perfect backdrop for the weekend pregame.
The life of being a DJ and music producer blends euphoria and glamor with immense pressure under heavy expectations from fans and the industry alike. The best parts of the job are riddled with compromises, as is the case with many career paths. Ryan Gary Raddon, who is now more popularly known as Kaskade, started his journey to becoming a successful musician in 1995. It is 25 years later, and since then, he has released 11 studio albums and gone on to receive 7 Grammy nominations.
As Kaskade, Raddon has been instrumental to breaking down barriers in order to allow success as an electronic musician to translate into success as a mainstream commercial artist. He is the first electronic musician to have sold out Navy Pier in Chicago and the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and he set a record in 2015 for Coachella‘s largest crowd at a performance in history. 2020 is a world where The Chainsmokers headline arena tours and where Zedd is a fixture on the Top 40 radio, and it wouldn’t have been possible without Raddon and a few other key players in the electronic music industry breaking down barriers between global commercial mainstream success and the then-niche of electronic music.
Raddon’s success is a gold standard for music producers and artists, but with immense popularity comes complications. This is especially the case when it comes to creativity and musical output. The pressure for each new release to be a mass phenomenon is great, and many artists lose the ability to channel the creativity that gave them success in the first place. Raddon has found a way to stay true to his creative core while also channeling musical experimentation through his REDUX projects. Raddon’s Kaskade releases are feel-good mainstage hits that channel his ability to craft a uniquely catchy sound while keeping his pulse on popular cultural and musical trends. The intent of REDUX for the musician is to put his creativity and musical fulfillment first while putting the desires of fans and the industry second. It is his personal outlet to create without the pressure or expectations of others.
Raddon began to release his REDUX singles and sets in 2014, and as explained by the artist, “REDUX is approached with less math. Nothing I do is formulaic, but with anything other than REDUX, it is a point of getting the song from A to Z.” He continues, “With REDUX, I don’t feel like I have that responsibility to resolve every cadence, there can be cliffhangers. If it were a movie, REDUX might be one of those that everyone fights about the ending. It’s brilliant or awful, maybe both. But it’s always ALWAYS going to be the way I want it to be.” In a world where ticket sales and stream numbers dictate an artist’s worth, REDUX is Raddon’s own sonic world that is purely and truly his own.
Raddon has released the newest installment of his REDUX EP series with four track REDUX 004. The EP is captivating in an unpredictable way, starting with sultry “Love Like That” with instrumentals and smooth house notes and ending with “Feel It,” whose home would be at a beach club in the midst of a deep house set. “Sexy” is a true outlier within the compilation, transporting the listener to the height of a club set with its chanting vocals and pulsing backdrop. “Find Love” has a calming effect with soothing vocals, instrumentals, and building ebs and flows of the bassline in the backdrop.
Raddon discusses where REDUX fits into his personal musical landscape, stating, “REDUX is a strange beast. It lives and thrives in dark sweaty clubs and is whatever I want it to be in the moment. It’s complete freedom to vibe in the way I want, without concern for if I’ve appealed to the masses.” He continues, “Obviously I want to do the heavy lifting for my audience, make sure their night has reached the high bar they’ve set. But if it’s REDUX, it’s going to be on my terms, and I might just keep them perched on a no-drop build for six hours, depending on my mood that night.”
For those wanting their deep house fix for a Saturday Night, REDUX 004 is out now Arkade.
Photo Credit: Mark Owens
Musically, you have so many different sides of your creativity and output. Where does REDUX fit in with that? What does it mean to you?
REDUX is a strange beast. It lives and thrives in dark sweaty clubs and is whatever I want it to be in the moment. It’s complete freedom to vibe in the way I want, without concern for if I’ve appealed to the masses. Obviously I want to do the heavy lifting for my audience, make sure their night has reached the high bar they’ve set. But if it’s REDUX, it’s going to be on my terms, and I might just keep them perched on a no-drop build for six hours, depending on my mood that night.
Do you have a favorite track from the EP?
How is your creative process for the production different for your REDUX releases than it is for others (if it is at all)?
REDUX is approached with less math. Nothing I do is formulaic, but with anything other than REDUX, it is a point of getting the song from A to Z. With REDUX, I don’t feel like I have that responsibility to resolve every cadence, there can be cliffhangers. If it were a movie, REDUX might be one of those that everyone fights about the ending. It’s brilliant or awful, maybe both. But it’s always ALWAYS going to be the way I want it to be.
What are your top 3 most played songs in your music library right now?
I share my accounts with my three daughters, so it’s not going to represent anything that is meaningful to me. I would guess anything that you see happening on TikTok is in my top 3. That’s right…Lottery (everyone thinks it’s called Renegade but IT’S NOT) is probably in my Top 3.
How are you reacting to the current situation of events being cancelled and travel being limited for the foreseeable future?
I cry often. I’m crying right now. I’m doing this interview in the fetal position under my bed. Nah….I’m doing my best, same as everyone else. Trying new things out and exploring new ways to connect with my audience. I want them to feel like I’m still here, we still have that connection. And it’s kind of nice because it doesn’t have to be about streams or tickets now – it’s like, hey. I also am pretending to homeschool my kids but know they’re actually playing Roblox. It’s ok. Let’s just all do our best. Now go eat your feelings because nothing tastes better than feelings.
How is it balancing having a family and living the life of a touring artist? Any tips for other artists entering this phase of their lives?
I’ve been asked this question a million times and I’ll always give a different answer because there are moments I think I’ve nailed it, I have finally gotten the balance right. And then suddenly everything shifts and I’ve actually done everything wrong. There is no a+b = c equation to balance work and family, period. All you can do is your best, don’t phone it in. Accept that you can’t meet everyone’s needs and just try to shift around who you disappoint so it doesn’t land on the same person every time. That’s life.
What kind of a Saturday Night is your Saturday Night Session mix going to get listeners ready for?
The kind of Saturday Night where if you don’t want to go out (ha!) you can load it up on your device that’s connected to your best speakers, dim the lights, wear something that makes you feel good and turn it up. If you do it right, the police should be at your door within 20 minutes of pressing play.