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Kaskade Talks About New Music, Creative Process and His GRAMMY Nomination

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Songwriter/producer Kaskade (aka Ryan Reddon) is celebrating his very first (and long overdue) GRAMMY nomination this year. He is up in the Best Dance/Electronica Album category for "Fire & Ice," his most recent LP that was released in October 2011. Featuring collaborations with Skylar Grey, Haley, Neon Trees, Dan Black and Skrillex, the album is a bit of a concept album that includes two versions of each album track. The "Fire" disc contains ten original songs geared firmly toward the dance floor, while on the "Ice" disc (which is truly terrific), Kaskade delivers the perfect down-tempo post-club experience by remixing all ten songs.  

One of the things that gets too often overlooked is that Kaskade is not only an iconic DJ and producer, he's also a gifted melodymaker and lyricist who approaches all of his work as a songwriter first. With the explosion of new DJs, new tech and production tools in recent years, Kaskade is a true trailblazer who ruled the house scene long before the big American EDM revolution came along.

In a recent Q&A at The GRAMMY Museum in downtown Los Angeles, Kaskade spoke in-depth about his songwriting process and rise to fame. He spoke frankly about "Steppin' Out," one of his first hits that was an inspiration for  "Fire & Ice." "['Steppin' Out'] was a great dance track, but it seemed that people really connected to the lyrics and the melody," Kaskade told GRAMMY Museum director Bob Santelli. "I played the song and put it in my sets and I realized that the song is really something special. I've remixed it, changed the tempo and almost turned it into a ballad, I thought that was so much fun to do. It was a totally different take on the song and I realized I'd love to do for an album. Just look at each song in two different ways."

It turned out to be an eye-opening experience for the GRAMMY nominee. "The experience proved that it’s not about the style or production of the song, but it’s the actual song that people are connecting to," he explained. "People in electronic music, especially in its infancy, would always argue about all the different sub-genres, house and trance and techno, but let’s get over it – it’s about good music. If you write a good song it can be classified in so many different ways."

During the chat in the Clive Davis Auditorium at The GRAMMY Museum, Kaskade played snippets of some of his hits, plus he shared a very rough (and very promising) demo of a brand-new track on his laptop that had the sold out crowd excited.

Showcasing some new work brought up the question about his creative process and how he goes about validating new music. Kaskade explains, "Early on my career, new music didn't go far outside of the studio. I didn''t feel to have it validated by anyone else for whatever reason. When I first started writing music, it was for a very selfish reason. It was because I wanted to write and create."

He adds, "As I’ve gotten older and written more music, I play it for friends, but I feel if there’s too much outside influence it messes with my confidence. I know when a song is done when I sit down and it takes me to a place."

The 55th GRAMMY Awards will take place on February 10 at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. Tune in to CBS or follow @TheGRAMMYs and @arjanwrites for live updates from the show.

January 20, 2013 | Permalink