Kaskade may be one of the leading DJs in dance music today – but he wants to be even bigger. "I felt empowered by the fact the scene is so huge now and so many people are paying attention," he tells Rolling Stone. "It made me feel like, 'This is the time for me to try something new. I don’t have to collaborate with the Black Eyed Peas. I can do something that’s unique and special to my sound.' I’ve always kind of gone on my own path and I don’t follow the trend right now."
Last week, Kaskade (real name: Ryan Raddon) released a double CD, Fire and Ice, that he calls the culmination of his 10 years on the scene. "It was a big undertaking to do a double disc. I think that’s why I feel like, 'Man, a decade later this is where I’m at,'" the 40-year-old says. "It’s been a wild ride. I feel like as an artist I’ve changed and grown over the last 10 years and doing the Fire and Ice concept gave me a lot more room as an artist to stretch out."
As a result, he's brought in some unexpected collaborators, like Neon Trees. "I dig what those guys were doing and I remixed 'Animal' a year and a half ago," he says. Plus, it turns out they had a mutual connection: Bass player Branden Campbell is married to a college friend of Raddon's. "We hung out, I got to meet Tyler [Glenn] and we had a lot of mutual friends, so it was cool. And I just wanted to be able to do something that was fun and unique and fit with their sound and my sound, but wasn’t as obvious."
Another guest is current collaboration queen of the moment Skylar Grey, but Kaskade says her radio success with the likes of Eminem and Dr. Dre had nothing to do with why he wanted to work with her. "I immediately gravitated towards her voice and her writing style," he says. "She could’ve been my neighbor and I would’ve been like, 'Man, this girl’s got an amazing voice. I need to work with this person."
The album hit Number Four on the iTunes albums chart last week. "I don’t want to make a record that can only be listened to at two a.m. I wanted it to say more, to be musical, to stand up on its own so somebody who might not know about dance music or might not listen to it all the time would still be able to put it on and be like, 'Man, this whole thing is interesting.'"