After weeks of preparations, I finally arrived in Miami early this morning all red-eyed but ready for Miami Music Week, the annual dance music fest in Miami that encompasses Winter Music Conference, Ultra Music Festival and lots of parties across South Beach. I checked into the breathtakingly beautiful W South Beach at 7 a.m. and started my final prep for my keynote Q&A at Winter Music Conference with Kaskade. (For all you music fans out there: There are lots of great things happen at W this week. Make sure to follow W on Twitter and Instagram for updates and behind-the-scenes photos.)
I've interviewed Kaskades a few other times over the years starting back in 2006 to talk about his fourth studio album Love Mysterious. It was great to sit down with him in person this time around and talk in-depth about his rise to fame, creative process, the EDM movement, balancing the music and visual aspect of his live performance and being an independent artist.
What truly strikes me about Kaskade is that in a world that is getting saturated with commercial, run of the mill house music, he has been able to stay true to his own sound. Deeply influenced by the Westcoast house sound of the late '90s, the Chicago-born DJ, producer and songwriter carved out his own unique niche by combining lush house grooves with acoustic instrumentation. Most notably on "It's You, It's Me" that truly launched his career as a musical artist.
What makes Kaskade different compared to many of his peers is that he approaches his creative process first and foremost as a songwriter. I went back to our 2006 interview and read him a quote from our chat back then. "It's not the style that people are connecting to, it's the song," he said. Seven years later, that point of view still rings true for Kaskade.
It's important for him to also drive the creative process entirely by himself. He doesn't like to let people hear what he's working on early. He also prefers not too work with a troop of topline writers unless it's something that is organic and not forced. He specifically mentioned his work with Skylar Grey on "Room for Happiness" as a collaboration that happened naturally and grew into a friendship for both.
Authenticity was the lingering theme throughout the keynote. He also advised many aspiring DJs and producers in the room to work towards something they really believe in - a sound that they feel truly passionate about without compromising. It's a powerful message that fits the true original Kaskade is.
If you're in Miami, make sure to catch him play one of his signature Redux shows in downtown Miami on Thursday, Ultra Music Festival on Friday and a club show in South Beach on Saturday. He's also launching a Pop Up Shop for fans to scoop up some limited-edition merch.