Kaskade: Mormon DJ
Ryan Gary Raddon known professionally as “Kaskade,” is a multi GRAMMY® Award-nominated singer, songwriter, producer, and remixer. Kaskade is a titan in the electronic dance music world, and a groundbreaking innovator in the music industry as a whole. He has kicked down doors and pushed boundaries in genre- defying “firsts”. He was the first DJ to conceptualize and hold down the now Pop-Star littered landscape of the Las Vegas residency. Kaskade also has the distinction of being the first ever solo electronic dance artist to sell-out both the Barclays Center in NYC and the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Billboard Magazine declared that Kaskade’s 2012 Freaks of Nature Tour was “the only successful national stadium tour undertaken by a solo electronic music artist.”
Kaskade has nine full-length chart-topping albums, a standout in the dance music industry. His latest, Automatic claimed the #2 spot on the Billboard Dance /Electronic Albums Chart. Automatic commanded a Top 15 placement on the U.S. Digital Chart, as well as amassing over 50 million streams on Spotify in less than a year’s time. Rolling Stone asserts that “Kaskade represents an intensely positive side of dance music culture”, another cornerstone in the foundation that sets Kaskade apart.
In both 2011 and 2013, DJ Times voted him America’s Best DJ. He tours more than 200 days annually, and in 2015 he was the seventh highest-paid DJ in the world, with an estimated $18 million in revenue (according to Forbes magazine).
Raddon was born on February 25, 1971, and grew up in Northbrook, Illinois. "He didn’t drink or party, he loved music and was in the high school varsity choir. At 15, he didn’t have a driver’s license, so he tagged along with his older brother at night, taking the train into [Chicago].
- “My parents, they were never like, freaked out,” he said. “I could go into the city, hang out, go to shows, juice bars, see DJs.”
- Raddon found himself in the heart of a developing scene: the birth of “house” music in Chicago, a mix of alternative industrial music, disco, electronic pop from Europe and techno from Detroit.
- “Being around people that thought differently, dressed differently and listened to different music — it was cool. That was fun and exciting” . . . . “I could be who I wanted to be. I’m a devout Mormon, that’s who I am . . . I never felt judged.”
He attended Brigham Young University and after serving a full-time mission to Japan for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he worked as a tour guide in New York for a time and then graduated from the University of Utah with a bachelor’s degree in communications. During his college days he worked on his DJ skills in his dorm room, worked at a record store in Salt Lake City, and bought studio equipment.
In 1995, Raddon began DJing his first weekly Monday night party at a basement venue called Club Manhattan. In 2000 he moved to San Francisco where he worked at OM Records. During his work there, he continued to DJ and developed his alter ego Kaskade after seeing a picture of a waterfall in a nature book. His wife, Naomi, thought people would think of the dishwasher detergent Cascade. He released a single, “What I Say,” in 2001.
He was offered a three-album deal with OM in 2003. The first, It’s You, It’s Me, helped him garner a prestigious Dance Star nomination for Best New Artist. He also released several singles that gave him three consecutive top ten hit on Billboard's Hot Dance Airplay Chart. He was nominated for three Grammy Awards: Best Dance/Electronica Album for Fire & Ice (2013), Best Dance Recording and Best Dance/Electronica Album for single “Atmosphere” and album Atmosphere (2014), and Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical for “Smile” (2015).
Kaskade left OM Records in 2006 and signed with Ultra Records. He has headlined at a many music festivals, including the Ultra Music Festival in Miami, Florida; Coachella Valley Music Festival in Indio, California; and Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a major reason why Las Vegas became the electronic music capital of the West, by "pioneering a residency program and helping bring in talent." In 2021, Kaskade was the first concert in the newly constructed SoFi Stadium. In 2022, his L.A. Coliseum concert with Deadmau5 broke the record for the largest single-day electronic music concert in North America.
In a 2012 article titled “The 25 DJs that rule the Earth,” Rolling Stone wrote, “Kaskade represents an intensely positive side of dance-music culture.”
Raddon and his wife, Naomi, have three daughters and he says he has a “nightclub guy” and a “dad” mode. He also says he does not participate in many of the activities that surround his vocation. “I don’t party at all!” “I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I’m a bit of a freak that way because I’m completely different from what you would think.”
He has also said, "Put the important things first. Prioritizing. What's important to you? I know what's important to me. I'm married and I have a beautiful wife, Naomi, and three kids, and making time for them is top of the list. Obviously, having a great career and supporting them is important too, so juggling those things and finding a way to make it work."