Since his first appearance at EDC in 2005, Kaskade has become a central figure in the Insomniac family. He consistently plays some of the most talked-about sets at our festivals. He’s also served as somewhat of a resident DJ with us: providing the soundtrack for our feature-length documentary, Under the Electric Sky; putting up his own money for a special surprise Redux set on the Sky Bridge at EDC Las Vegas 2016; and DJing at the wedding of Insomniac Founder and CEO Pasquale Rotella. He also kindly honored the life of mama Irene after her passing with a special set at her memorial in 2015. The beauty and heartfelt emotion he gracefully lays into his music has soundtracked our highest highs and brought us out from under our lowest lows. There are so few top-tier artists whose music and performances can induce such a visceral response.
In addition to his welcomed omnipresence within the Insomniac team, he’s been an essential member of the global electronic community for decades, with a discography that has become part of the dance music DNA. And as we embark on an Adventure for the Ages with the launch of our newest experience, Middlelands, we couldn’t think of anyone more fitting to help us create a new type of festival magic. Kaskade is leading the medieval revelry this May, as we guide Headliners on a brand-new journey back to the time of lords, ladies, knights and dragons.
Ahead of his performance at the inaugural Middlelands, we caught up with Kaskade to chat about his plans for the festival, his special relationship with Insomniac, and his deep connection with his fans.
The Middlelands theme and aesthetic offer plenty of chances for extra creativity from our music conductors. How will you be enhancing the spirit of the event through your music?
Insomniac is known for going completely bananas with themed-out, tricked-out events. There’s always an implied challenge to at least meet the bar they set—or to see if I can bring it all home and blow minds with a complementary barrage of music. I’ve got my ways, but ultimately it comes down to striking that balance between epic music, plenty of volume, and new designs for those who love to be sent to the moon visually.
“Any time I play an Insomniac event, it’s like meeting up with a childhood friend.”
You have a long history and close relationship with Insomniac. Can you talk about how it feels to join us as we start a new adventure with Middlelands?
Any time I play an Insomniac event, it’s like meeting up with a childhood friend. We’ve come up together; we know how to make all the pieces fit together. I’m looking forward to seeing what the Insomniac team has dreamt up for the newest adventure, and I look forward to throwing my own spin on it as well.
Last year, you said in an interview with Billboard that dance music still feels underrepresented in the awards circuit, even though it is filling arenas and clubs all over the world. With the Grammys now passed, how do you think the industry can correct this, if at all?
The industry isn’t going to be able to “correct” it. Dance music is absolutely everywhere; we are a multibillion-dollar industry, and still there are those who think it’s “up and coming.” That’s funny. After decades of stirring up music and shaping brains, opinions, commercials, soundtracks—and, most importantly, dancefloors—electronic music is simply just going to remain where it started: underground. Even though your dentist might be humming a song by an electronic artist, he’ll probably be hard-pressed to [name them]. That’s okay—some things are better staying true to their roots.
You’ve always been just as much of a songwriter as a producer. Do you see the tide turning in dance music toward more “traditional” songwriting as a new crop of producers begins to come up?
Music is liquid and always has been. It goes from highly organic to highly synthesized to a coalescence of both. My core has always been lyric and melody. I’ve always been a huge fan of the stem of a song, its heart. I do see this depth being explored more by newer producers. That speaks to me; I enjoy seeing that flow coming our way.
Do you think part of your strong connection with your fans has to do with the fact that, like many of them, you got your start in dance music as a young kid going to undergrounds?
I’m connected to my fans because we love music. I’ve been inspired by it my entire life, and I continue to be [inspired] every single day. Hopefully this connection just grows, because it is everything to me.
Catch Kaskade at the first-ever Middlelands, taking place Friday, May 5, through Sunday, May 7, at the Texas Renaissance Festival Fair Grounds in Todd Mission, TX. For more information, visit the official website.
Alexander Dias, too, has been with us every step of the way. Follow him on Twitter.