Mormon, 44 and married father of 3 is more than likely the furthest description you’d give of a Grammy-winning DJ and record producer who’s made his fortune while rising to the top of the EDM world! Kaskade is one of the highest paid DJ’s in the world, getting paid as much as $500,000 a show! But how does he stay grounded and a world that can get the best of many (just think about your last trip to Vegas)?! The award winning DJ/producer recently sat down with the Daily Herald to reminisce about his childhood, playing his first show at Lollapalooza and which one of his past shows changed his life!
Read and edited version of the interview below with Jamie Sotonoff of the Daily Herald!
Q. Where did the name Kaskade come from?
A. It came out of sheer boredom. That was me looking through a nature book, and I had a deadline to come up with a name, because I’d already sold some music to people. I didn’t want to be called Ryan, so I had to come up with something. Kaskade sounded good.
Q. You’ve said the 1986 New Order show at the Aragon Ballroom was a night that “helped form who I am.” Can you explain?
A. All this music I’ve written in the past 20, 25 years, it’s really just a reflection of who I am. It’s impossible for me to overstate the importance of Chicago and house music in those early years. Chicago was home to the new wave, early electronic and house music scene. I had two older brothers and we’d go into the city to Medusa’s on Sheffield. It was a forward-thinking nightclub that catered to teens and played house music. Frankie Knuckles, a Chicago guy (dubbed “The Godfather of House Music”), was one of my heroes. I went to a lot of his shows. And New Order was probably, easily, in my top five bands as a kid — along with The Cure and The Smiths. To see these guys live was huge.
Q. Now you’re playing in that same room at the Aragon Ballroom (June 16). Does it feel like you’ve come full circle?
A. Yes. And playing Lollapalooza, too. This is so crazy. The first time I played Lolla, I got on the mic and I choked up, because it was such a moment for me to stand in front of a large audience in the city I was born and raised in, with the skyline in the background.
Q. What were your years at Glenbrook North like?
A. I look back on it so fondly. I sang for four years in the choir. Judy Moe was my music teacher. I’d love to go back and hang out and speak to the kids. Of the five kids in my family, I was the kid who complained the most about piano lessons. I’d yell, “I hate this Mom!” I don’t even think I made it a year. I love music and sitting at the piano and coming up with melodies … but someone telling me what to do and making me play certain melodies? No.
Q. What can you tell us about your current tour, “Spring Fling”?
A. I’m playing new music on the road now. I’m seeing how it goes down and plays out. That’s always really fun. I played Navy Pier during my last two shows (in Chicago). For me, to do something new, in a new space that is smaller and more intimate, is important. To fit in a show in a small venue (at the Aragon Ballroom) that holds 3,000 to 4,000 … it makes for a different show experience.
Q. On one hand, you’re a family man, devout Mormon, no drinking or drugs, in your 40s, and playing “young people’s music.” And yet you also DJ till dawn and you’re at the top of your game. Do you ever think, “I’m getting too old for this?”
A. No, I feel like I’m just kinda hitting my stride, creatively. And it seems crazy to say, because it IS a young person’s music. For me that’s fun and exciting. I’m enjoying and loving life so much. I’m in an incredible place creatively. But I stay true to who I am.