Last year, while trying to get my sea legs back, I made a mental prep list for the upcoming summer pool season: Buy a new Speedo, have my Captain’s hat cleaned and find some new songs to make the incoming crowds of party people splash.
I considered that last bit of business the most important, and as I scrolled through the slew of MP3s in my inbox, I came across an e-mail from the central DJ wrangler for the Tao empire, Omar Galeano. The message contained a decree from Tao Group owner/partner/shot-caller Jason Strauss that commanded all resident DJs to work Kaskade’s “Move for Me” into their sets, in all venues, on all days, effective immediately. A short list of disc jockeys was attached on the message and, as the Saturday resident at Tao Beach at that time, I went about securing said track.
Produced in collaboration with Canadian electronic artist Deadmau5 and featuring vocals by Haley Gibby, “Move for Me” proved to be a turning point in a music career that already spans more than a decade.
“I really tried to make a marriage between lyrical content and production style,” says Kaskade, speaking over the phone. “Although it’s a fun and simple song about going out and dancing, people connected with it. It’s me speaking to the crowd: Move for me, I’ll move for you!”
This DJ has moved quite a bit himself, starting off playing for 600 people in a basement in Utah before commanding millions of party people at Carnival in Brazil. Now, as Encore Beach Club prepares to open its doors Memorial Day weekend, he is assigned to oversee Sunday afternoons at what is promised to be Vegas’ hottest pool destination.
Kaskade was born Ryan Raddon and was raised in Chicago—a hotbed for the American house scene over the last few decades—yet it was his move to Utah for college (a relocation that was perfectly aligned with the Mormon belief system that his parents had instilled) that became to be the gestation point for his trajectory in music.
Multitasking as a radio show host, a record store employee and a party promoter in Salt Lake City proved to be sufficient boot camp and prepared him for his next move, a self-reassignment to San Francisco. He gained employment at Om Records, and moved quickly from intern to artist, completing three albums for them before signing in 2006 with Ultra Records. Billboard charts and Grammy nominations soon followed, culminating with the release of his fifth album, Strobelite Seduction, and the single, “Move for Me,” which brings us here.
“With every album, there’s always one or two tracks that really boost visibility,” Kaskade says. “’Move for Me’ was one of those. Timing, the lyrics, the melody, the production style—it just resonated with people.”
To call Kaskade modest would be a modest statement in itself, as he is quick to give shine to his collaborator from the Great White North for the track’s success: “I don’t necessarily feel like I did anything different,” he says. “It was collaborative with Deadmau5 and he’s on some crazy rocket ship to the moon. Some of that fairy dust sprinkled on me, and the track just connected with people. It was a whole other level that I knew existed; I just wasn’t aware of how out there it was.”
They say success has many fathers and failure has none. I certainly played patriarch last summer, and “Move for Me” got prime-time positioning from the likes of DJs Vice, Crooked and Five. Then what do you know? Just one year later, the Beach Club at Encore invited Kaskade to move in.
I jest, of course. Kaskade’s Sunday party will launch this Memorial Day weekend simply because a core group of nightlife impresarios realized that Kaskade was the man for the job.
“Up until now, Las Vegas hasn’t had a premier venue, a venue that rivals where I’ve played in Europe or South America or Asia,” he laments, then launches into a wax-covered sonnet describing his plans for Sunday afternoon at Encore. “They wanted me to be involved and make the party mine—Kaskade Sundays—to curate it, be here all the time, design the sound that will match the party, and elevate it to a new level. I want to build something here in the U.S. that rivals what’s going on in some of these other places. This is the right time to do it. … I knew I wanted to be involved when I saw the plans and the sound system. The Wynn is being really brave by building a world-class venue that no one can touch.”
Still, some may find it hard to believe that the mastermind curating the booze-fueled party from the booth maintains his long-held Mormon values. I asked him about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ doctrine against alcohol and how he balances the service he provides with the inebriated environment this service is bound to promote.
“Encore is trying to do something different; it’s a sophisticated party,” he says. “My whole existence is music. … ‘Let’s get fucked up dude!’—that’s not my thing. My gig is about love and passion and music. And I think we can create that party with a lot of cool people having a great time to some wonderful music.” Visit kaskademusic.com for more audio philosophy, or pick up Kaskade’s new record, Dynasty, before checking him out at Encore Beach Club.