Deejay Ryan Raddon is a pretty laid back fellow. A stark contradiction to the current idea of a rock superstar. However, with the release of his current 12” Its You, Its Me, with an album of the same name on OM Records, this deejay/producer has found himself thrust into the limelight and is currently touring around the world, playing in such exotic ports as Spain, Ireland and even the British Kingdom of London. Becoming a household name, however, was never the intention of the Chicago native. “ I never imagined [putting out] more than a few 12,” he states in his soft, yet sure cadence.
Raised in Chicago, Raddon was weaned on the native House music by many of its pioneers. “I was listening to WBMX and the Hotmix 5, you know? There were a lot of crews doing stuff, original stuff, and it grabbed my attention.” Sometime during the mid-eighties, Raddon happened into Gramophone Records—the first house record store—and never turned back. He started digging in the crates, grabbed a set of turntables and a deejay was born. It wasn’t long before he and fellow disk jockey’s Derrick Carter and Mark Farina were making the rounds and putting in their own work.
Eventually this easygoing lifestyle was replaced by a move to Utah for a higher education. However, the music of his youth called to him to spread the gospel. Raddon founded and started promoting Salt Lake’s first and only house night at the Manhattan Club. The night became so successful that he was able to pay his tuition and start a record store—Mechanized Records. This would also be the name of the imprint that first launched his production career. Talking about his transition from just rocking turntables to making his own slamming tracks, Raddon says, “People started hitting me for remixes, then I started buying studio equipment…and soon I was writing my own stuff. Before you know it, I had a makeshift studio. I think for a lot of DJ’s it’s just a natural progression.”
It wasn’t long before this unassuming lad had garnered a following outside of his realm of influence. Early records like the 12” “Magnificent Mile” and later “What I Say” were being played in clubs, getting positive critical attention, along with making it into the crates and playlists of higher profile deejays. It was then that the DJ-turned-Producer started hearing groups like Everything But The Girl and Portishead, as well as Morcheeba and others. “I saw that the future wasn’t sampling old disco records. It was in melodies. So I wanted to do some ‘next level’ thing.” Packing his bags, the venerable musician made a beeline to San Francisco. Here, the rich house and ambient scene inspired Raddon to greater heights. Getting in touch with his favorite record label, Raddon started sending them demo’s. Eventually, they were so well received that he was offered a three record deal with OM Records. But then the question became, what to do?
“They dug my stuff, which was cool. I got to put out the 12” and it appeared on a couple of compilation albums…but I wanted this project to be bigger than me, so I couldn’t see calling it Ryan Raddon. That’s when I came up with the name Kaskade. The first single, “Its You, Its Me”, the mixture of deep grooves and melodic vocals, became a hit. “It started doing really well on the West Coast, Frisco and Seattle…all up and down, ya know? People started calling Om to book the group and, so, I had to put something together.” That something included three young vocalists, Joslyn (a hot R&B crooner), Rob Wannamaker (pure soul) and Amy Michelle (ambient jazz siren). And, working from influences as likely as Groove Armada and Solstice, and as unlikely as, say, Justin Timberlake, Kaskade crafted a record that was rooted in House, “…you know, the raw, gritty, soulful stuff,” but very much harmonic, Jazzy and playful. The result – a pleasurable ride through the mind of its creator, complete with positive messages and head nodding grooves.
On the strength of the lead single, Kaskade was being booked like crazy. For now, though, the group remains in the studio while its mastermind stays true to his turntable beginnings: Playing a DJ set on the current Om Tour, and wherever he can man a set of tables and a mixer. “I think the live show would be great,” he says, giving a nod to fellow Om group Afro-Mystik. “But I love deejaying!”
And the world apparently agrees: For the last six months he has been constantly touring, playing clubs and shows and promoting the record. But don’t fear, Raddon doesn’t plan to be on stage forever. “Touring and playing live is great,” he says, “but I want to do more in the studio.”
To that end, he has a compilation album Soundtrack To The Soul, which is scheduled to drop in late October. He is also ready to start work on the second album, which he assures will have even more vocalists—like Terry Walker (Def Jam)—and more of that really good, soul busting music that soothes the gut. “The material is getting stronger, I think. The fans are going to be really surprised. ”
In an industry where even the most jaded of individuals can become overwhelmed, it is good to see that a low-key and honest personality can do what he wants and survive. “Yeah,” agrees Raddon, “People try and take advantage of you all the time, but its cool. Ya know? Its a business. But that’s why I’m on Om. Its a good fit for me.”
And this show is a good fit for the Boulder Theater. Grab your dancing shoes and a couple of dollars and head up next Thursday to judge for yourself.
Kaskade, or rather Ryan Raddon, appears alongside Mark Farina and Afri-Mystic for the second Sounds of Om World Tour on July 17th, at the Boulder Theater. Check local ticket outlets or Omrecords.com for more information on Kaskade and their other artists.