Riding High with Kaskade at Coachella

Dance tent headliner meets Usher, talks collaboration with Skrillex and upcoming tour

kaskade
Mark Davis/Getty Images for Coachella
Kaskade performs at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California.
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"I did a remix for Usher and they just hit me up a couple of hours ago, like, 'Hey, we're gonna come to Coachella. Are you gonna be around to say hello? Usher wants to say thanks,'" Kaskade tells Rolling Stone while riding in his chauffeur-driven black SUV to the Coachella festival, where he will close out the Sahara Tent before thousands of rapturous fans that evening.

These days, it is good to be Kaskade. The night before his performance, he went to check out French teenager Madeon, who then dropped Kaskade and Skrillex's "Lick It" collaboration into his set. "It was really unexpected. I was gonna hit him up on text today. 'Did you play that just because I was here or did you already have that in the set must-play list?'" he says.

Either way, it was great timing. The single and video for "Lick It" drop this week. One of the things Kaskade loved about doing the track with the dubstep star was that most people wouldn't think of the two together. "That was one of the really cool collaborations on Fire and Ice just because people put Skrillex and I in such different worlds musically, and I love doing the unexpected."

It's not just musically that people wouldn't link the two; it's the way they've both come to fame. While Skrillex enjoyed a meteoric rise in the dance world, Kaskade has been DJing and making music for a decade. "The way my career has gone has been organic in nature. It's just been grassroots and grown and taken over a decade to build up to this point," he says.

The point he now finds himself is being one of the top DJs in America and about to embark on a 52-date tour that will feature several arena shows, including some reportedly prestigious gigs that have yet to be announced. The tour will feature his biggest production to date, which he debuted at Coachella this past weekend. He is excited about the new show because it reflects his music and his values, he says.

"People know my lyrics, they know the stuff I've written and it's all about life, love, happiness and these big euphoric moments. It would always bug me when I'd go to a club and they're playing some chick on a stripper pole on the monitor behind me," he says, laughing. "I'm like, 'So that's not what I do, that's the other guy.'"

Truly, Kaskade is not the crazy, partying kind of DJ. Case in point: as he arrives at his Coachella trailer, Usher is waiting there to meet him. When America's Number One DJ and the R&B superstar meet for the first time, they show each other pictures of their kids on their phones and talk about music. It's not the glamorous, debaucherous scene that some might hope for, but that's not Kaskade. This festival weekend and upcoming tour are pinnacles that Kaskade reached solely on his merits – and after a decade, others are noticing it. As Usher tells Rolling Stone, "You know, you're hanging with the best."