Kaskade Shares His Musical DNA

The world-leading producer-DJ discusses the tracks that informed his tastes and shaped his moves

With nine studio albums and six GRAMMY nominations to his name DJ-singer-producer-and highly sought-after remixer, Kaskade is an artist whose influence is felt across a spectrum of musical genres.

The first DJ to land a Las Vegas residency, the first ever solo electronic dance artist to sell-out both Navy Pier in Chicago, and the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and the first dance artist to perform and sell out at the Los Angeles Convention Center in its 45-year history with a career-defining solo headline date in front of 30,000 fans. A three-time Coachella veteran, Kaskade made history in 2015 where he was the only electronic musician to headline the festival and drew the two largest crowds in its 16-year existence.

Relentlessly on the road, Kaskade is once again hitting the rostrum at a bunch of venues across North America – his Spring Fling tour is set to once again bring the party to the people.

ARTISTdirect caught up with Kaskade and asked that he share his memories of the tunes that shaped his approach to craft. He’s what he said…

The first single I bought…

I have two older brothers whose music I would naturally gravitate towards, so early on there were some unfortunate choices. As I started figuring out what I was really into, though, I started honing my own style with selections from the B-Boy playbook and of course the New Wave guard. Not sure what came first, but I started a great collection of wax with Breaker’s Revenge, Chief Rocka, The Cure, Nitzer Ebb and then discovered Chicago House and everything suddenly made sense.

The first live show I attended…

I was lucky to grow up just outside of Chicago, so I could hop the train into the city and see what flavor this amazing city was offering up for the night. I have a ticket stub from 1986 at the Aragon Ballroom to see New Order. I just came across the ticket a few days ago, which was pretty sweet because I’m playing that exact same room in June. It kind of plays games with my mind.

The first song I learned to play…

There was always music playing in my home. I’m not sure what type of musical foundation my parents were trying to set, but everything from religious hymns to The Beach Boys to Peaches and Herb were playing on the Hi-Fi. I would guess the first song I learned to play wasn’t actually a real song, but one I made up that had something to do with love and loss. Though the central character was a stuffed animal, who met his demise at the hands of ill-meaning dolls that came to life at night. Wow. I might want to schedule some therapy after this interview.

The song that encouraged me to learn my instrument of choice…

I was hooked on listening to “The Hot Mix 5” which was a Chicago radio show. They dished out the best tracks from a crazy melee of genres. The B-Boys were there, disco was there, the newer electronic sounds were in there. If I had to choose one song that sealed it, I’d name “Jack Your Body” because, damn.

The song that reminds me of home…

Any of the old house staples. I recently played Aly Us – “Follow Me” at a club and it was a hugely nostalgic and happy moment for me.

My guilty secret track…

I actually don’t have any shame. I’m the first to admit that some fluffy candy-coated straight-up pop can hit just the right spot sometimes. So without shame, I can proudly declare that I know all the words to, and will sing with my full heart almost all of Katy Perry’s songs. Doesn’t hurt that I live with three daughters, of course.

The song I wish I wrote…

Never have been able to get over the genius of “Under Pressure” by Queen & David Bowie. I *almost* got over it when Vanilla Ice took it, but it’s just that good that in my mind, it persevered.

The finest song from my all time hero…

Johnny Cash had such an amazing career, and always stayed true to who he was. I think his version of “Hurt” is one of the most heart-wrenching songs I’ve ever heard. It’s actually hard to listen to, because of how he just simmers under the radar of full-on despair. While I’m not 100% he’s my all time hero, his delivery of this song is heroic.

The song I’ve written of which I’m most proud…

I really do think music is fluid, songs gain and lose importance depending on where you are in life. It could change tomorrow, but for now I’d say that “It’s You, It’s Me” changed the game for me in such a significant way that it will always feel like a first love.

The song that should be played at my funeral…

I’ll never die I’m a robot.

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