Last week, my friend and editor of Raves.com, Jennifer Warner and I had an impromtu IM session over AIM. We haven’t spoken in what seems like forever (really a year or so…has it been that long?). The conversation turned to MySpace.com the music-driven online social networking community. We didn’t realize we’d both signed up to the site but hadn’t connected as friends there yet.
Linking into her MySpace page, an .mp3 file of a house music track she’d embedded in her bio section began to play automatically. It was super hot! I had no idea who it was but it one of the best house music tracks I’d heard in a while. I furiously typed, “YO! What is that track playing on your page?” Jen quickly replied, “Kaskade! ” She explained, Kaskade, one of her favorite house music producers, is on Om Records out of San Francisco. Of course he is! I should have known.
The Om Records imprint, synonymous with quality house music, has taken over where Strictly Rhythm so sadly left off. After selling the business to Warner Brothers in search of the big payday (a decision that made it’s owner and some of the other employees a nice chunk of change), the label couldn’t produce a platinum selling artist and the WB shut it down, leaving a gaping hole in the dance music industry during a time when our music was once again taking a backseat to all other genres and being crunched by file-sharing and the post-9/11 economic slowdown. Thank God Om has survived through the turmoil. Let’s hope they don’t make the same mistake. In these days of the web and digital downloading, who needs a major now anyway. Unless you want to show up on Letterman or Leno, it’s not that big a deal.
So, Kaskade? What planet have I been living on? Sure, I’ve been out of the loop, but from time to time I’m checkin’ the latest happenings on the dance charts. I can’t believe I missed out on this choice tune! And, it was released in 2003 at that! I must have been in la-la-land.
Jen’s .mp3, a remix of the Kaskade’s, “It’s You, It’s Me” by the legendary LA DJ and Billboard Dance Chart Reporter, Marques Wyatt was what I’d been listening to. It had that soft, melodic and funky deep bassline that reminded me of Gat Decor’s “Passion.” There’s another one on my mind right now, maybe the Ital Rockers? I just can’t put my finger on, but I’ll think of it and add it to this posting when I do.
Layered over the track is a beautful piano that brought back memories of the classic house music track, “A Little Piano ” by Soft House Company. It’s smooth, warm kick drum and happy sounding snare hits have their roots in San Fran’s deep house scene, but also sound like something you’d hear in the early 90’s, Crystal Waters hit, “Makin Happy”.
With those influences, or at least the one’s I hear anyway, I wanted to find out more about the cat making this melodic, funky and soulful dance music. Who is Kaskade? I set out on a web search to satisfy my own curiousity and hopefully hip you to some cool music I didn’t even know about myself.
33-year old Ryan Raddon aka Kaskade, is a Chicago native and former production assistant to Om Records head of A&R, Chris Smith. He worked his way to San Francisco after spending his college years in Salt Lake City where he attended a Mormon university. While in Salt Lake, Raddon put together a long-running, successful house music night, opened a record store and did a two-year stint as a mix-show DJ on a local radio station.
According to the Om Records web site, released in 2003,”It’s You, It’s Me” (OM-120vlp), received “strong support from Billboard Magazine, Radio One (UK), KCRW (LA), BPM Magazine and URB. Touring through over six countries in 2002, Kaskade is now poised as a break through artist following in the foot steps of Zero 7 and Miguel Migs.”
For more on Kaskade, see this interview on the VirginMegaMagazine.com web site. I also didn’t realize that Amazon.com is offering free downoads of some of the tracks from albums. Click on this link to download the .mp3 of “Call Me Wise” by Kaskade from the album, It’s You, It’s Me.
In 2004, Kaskade released a his sophmore album, In the Moment (OM-157). The Om Records web site wrote:
A busy year of non-stop International touring after the release of “Its You, Its Me” – Featured in “What’s Hot this Summer.” Kaskade brings forth a sultry soundtrack of powerful HITS with In the Moment. The opening track “Steppin’ Out” will heat up dancefloor’s everywhere. Kaskade teams up with the illustrious Collette on “I Like the Way,” and “Sweet Love” features heart-stopping vocals by Joslyn. Voted “Best New DJ” by URB Magazine last year – This release is proof that hard work has finally paid off for this DJ-Producer: In the Moment is a dancefloor journey into soul, harmonies, pop & funk – An album that will make all music-lovers groove. Kaskade brings you In The Moment.
With single remixes of “Steppin’ Out” by BT, Jason Hodges & Greenskeepers commissioned by Om, Kaskade supported the album during a brief International tour in May and June of 2004.
Jen and I started IM’ing each other about tracks we liked and music making it East, but not West, and vice versa. I told her a must have is a track that I’m really feeling right now; the Jacques Lu Cont, Thin White Duke remix of The Killers, “Mr. Brightside.” The remix hit the top of the Billboard Club Play chart a few weeks ago. I can’t seem to get it out of my head.
I downloaded a 128-bit version, but the quality was horrible. So I went to the iTunes store and sure enough, it was available in Apple’s proprietary AAC format. I love the song so much, I spent the change to download it and have been gleeful ever since. It rocks my headphones most days as I ride the big grey caterpillar through the dark subway tunnels under this dreaded city.
If you come across it, make sure you also listen to my friend Jonathan Benedict’s version he remixed for radio. The Lindberg Palace Club Mix was featured on the same 12″ and is more DJ friendly, with an extended 64-beat intro and a catchy 80’s synth pop feel. It got a ton of play at alternative radio.