KASKADE with BLUEPRINT and MORENO at Una Mas (422 Adelaide West), Friday (July 11). $10 before 11 pm, $15 after. www.garage416.com Rating: NNNNN
San Francisco-based deep house producer/DJ Kaskade (aka Ryan Raddon) feels bad. He was one of the artists who chickened out of a Toronto date during the height of the SARS crisis. "The week we were confirming the dates, the World Health Organization came out and said, -Don't go to Toronto unless you really have to.' Of course, a week later they're like, -Oh, we made a mistake. '
"I've always wanted to go to Toronto. You guys have mad history, from what I've heard. You're so close to Detroit and Chicago, and then you have all these New Yorkers going up there for vacation. It just seems like a very metropolitan city that's open to a lot."
Raddon is touring in support of his debut album, It's You, It's Me, a project that got started thanks to his own slyness.
He was working at Om Records, where secretly he put a few tracks he'd made under the Kaskade moniker into the listening pile. Eventually, his boss started calling him wanting to hear more of this Kaskade, at which point the ruse was up.
"You never know if you'll get people's honest opinion. I didn't want them to feel any obligation to hook me up just because they knew me."
Since then, he's released a few singles for Om, appeared on compilations and mixed one. Under other names, he's produced various types of house, but when it comes to Kaskade, the focus is on real instruments, solid songs with hooks and cheerful uplifting soul.
His releases have provoked very polarized reactions among DJs. Either they find his tracks too major-key and pop or they love them to death and play them every night.
Unlike many contemporary deep house producers, Raddon's compositions aren't as rooted in melancholy and nostalgia. They're more hopeful and joyous, but not really gospel either.
He grew up in a Chicago suburb during the height of the early house days. He later moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, for school, where he started DJing in clubs and on university radio and opened a record store. While his career didn't really take off until he moved to San Francisco, he credits his success more to living in Utah than anything else.
"When I was in Chicago, house was everywhere. I don't know if people really understand just how big it was there - you had three radio stations pounding it out for a while. For any kid who was into music, house was part of what you heard. I just assumed it was worldwide.
"So when I went to Salt Lake and no one knew what I was talking about, I realized I'd have to make my own scene and get involved. If I had stayed in Chicago, I would have been just another kid with two turntables and some records."