Kaskade talks early DJ career, new music and his stance on drugs


DJ Kaskade performs onstage during day 3 of the 2015 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival (Weekend 1) at the Empire Polo Club on April 12, 2015 in Indio, California.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Meet Ryan Raddon, a 46-year-old Chicago native whose love for dance music has granted him with a golden ticket to travel the globe and earn millions. Better known as Kaskade, Raddon has been DJing since 1995 and shows no sign of stopping anytime soon. 

While in New York City for his "Spring Fling" North American tour, Kaskade stopped by the CBS News Broadcast Center to chat on our "CBS This Morning" Podcast

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"I love writing music. I love going on the road and performing so none of it ever seems like work. Right? I'm doing what I love. I would do this for free. That's kind of a secret, right?" the DJ said.

Raddon said he fell in love with house music when he was just 15. He began his career inside his dorm and spent much of his time at his local record store. 

"I was out there collecting all these records, going to shows and just experiencing music. Maybe more than most kids, but I really loved it," Raddon said. He later graduated with a bachelor's in communications from the University of Utah. 

"I totally didn't know what I wanted to do," he said. After saving money from club bookings, he bought into a pre-existing record store since he was "hanging out there all the time."

Raddon then started buying equipment to build his first home studio. 

"It was quite expensive. My first sampler was $3,000; that was a lot of gigs," Raddon said.

While in the early stages of making his own records, Raddon says he had little success. "It was a passionate hobby. I was doing other things on the side ... I was a design director for a marketing agency for a while," he said.  

In 2000, he moved to San Francisco with his wife, Naomi, for her new job.

"[She] was kind of just like, 'What are you going to do?' I'm like, 'Uh, why are you putting all this pressure on me, man? I'm just having so much fun doing what I'm doing,'" Raddon said.

He describes the timing of his move as the beginning of the tech boom. "Loads of money was being poured in. It was like the gold rush," he said. 

Raddon began to see a resurgence of house music. "This is magical," he said he remembers thinking as his career took off.

Now, Raddon gets so many bookings he needs to make sure he strikes balance between his work and family life. 

On his off time, he enjoys being with his wife and three daughters in Santa Monica, California while staying active by surfing, running, biking and camping.

"Being gone 10 or 11 days, it's a challenge for sure being on the road and trying to have a family," Raddon said. 

Raddon also devotes time and energy into cleaning up the dance music scene: He has always been vocal about the use of drugs at shows. 

"For me, this music and this scene was a place of safety that I went to stay away from all that stuff ... I'm not stupid," Raddon said. "I know people are at my shows and are taking drugs and they're high at some of these shows. Not everyone is, there's a lot of sober kids out there that are experiencing it and loving it as sober as I am."

Raddon recently partnered with Chegg and Truth for an anti-tobacco event that Brooklyn Technical High School won in a contest. 

"There's going to be people out there smoking pot, doing drugs, whatever. I think it's important to talk to your kids and that's why I talk to my fans ... it's not necessary to be high to enjoy these shows," he said.

When Kaskade Konnect was born into existence by Colleen Burns it was a small family of friends who shared musical taste...

Posted by Kaskade on Monday, May 15, 2017

Raddon believes the culture of dance music has received negative attention due to incidents at dance music events.

"I feel as electronic music has become more popular, become part of pop culture, has really gotten a bad rap. I've been one of these guys that's been speaking out," Raddon said.

He recently re-launched a fan-driven club called "Kaskade Konnect," which allows local fans to connect and meet up. The creator of the fan club suddenly died in 2016 after an incident at Grand Canyon National Park.

Live from Kaskade Konnect meetup at Shake Shack!

Posted by Kaskade on Wednesday, May 17, 2017

"It took some time to heal … we're honoring the legacy of what Colleen built and it's been a beautiful thing," Raddon said.

What's next for Kaskade? He revealed to us that he's working on a new album. He said, "I think really what's next for me is a lot of touring behind that and going out there and trying to connect with as many people as possible."

Kaskade is scheduled to perform at Chicago's Lollapalooza this August.