Two of dance music's biggest acts talk to each other about their art.
Interview conducted by Joshua P. Ferguson
Originally published in Time Out Chicago magazine | 08.02.12
Though this interview originally ran back in August, it didn't get as much attention as we think it probably deserved, seeing as how two of dance music's biggest names chatted on the phone for an exclusive interview. So, to give it a bit more traction we're re-running it here for anyone who might have missed it this summer. Enjoy—JPF
San Francisco’s Bassnectar resides in a very different place, musically, from former Chicagoland native Kaskade. His headbang-worthy locks at the ready, Bassnectar (né Lorin Ashton) boasts wild bass-and-breaks freak-outs that sit comfortably at the center of the dubstep craze, while Kaskade (né Ryan Raddon) has enjoyed a decades-long career focusing almost exclusively on euphoric house music since discovering it as a teenager hanging out at legendary Lakeview club Medusa’s. Yet, on today’s dance-music landscape, both are breaking attendance records with overlapping fan bases.
With the summer of 2012 having been electronic-music's biggest yet in the U.S., we patched together 34-year-old Ashton in San Francisco, shortly after a recent European tour, and Raddon, 41, who was rolling into South Carolina on his tour bus at the time, to chat about the state of a scene that’s suddenly the biggest musical movement in America. Ashton was cool enough to tap his Twitter followers for topics, and it turns out the two share more fans than even they realized.
Bassnectar I think the people who are concerned with the differences between house and dubstep are the DJs. Other than that, I think the fans are just [looking for] big, loud music, lights and a bunch of us all in a room. The vibe I get is that a lot of kids call it dubstep, but they mean you or deadmau5. I don’t think you guys are technically quote-unquote dubstep artists, but that term has come to mean EDM, at least for North American partygoers.
Kaskade Dude, when my European friends come over to North America, they’re so freaked out because it’s so new here and this generation isn’t so concerned with the subtle differences of what the genres are. It’s cool. They just want to have a good time and enjoy the music. I think the sophistication and snobbery will come later.
Bassnectar I think potentially the death of a scene or a movement is when people get too close-minded or confined.… I think some of the innocence and cross-genre open-mindedness is part of the reason that [EDM is] booming. People are capable, like you said, of getting down to all these different styles.
Kaskade Don’t you feel that’s part of the reason that electronic music is working so well now? It’s more about the actual song. Electronic music has incubated long enough, and the artistry is there and the technology is there that we can focus on the songs and do the cool sound design afterwards. Ten years ago the depth wasn’t there. It wasn’t artistic enough for Americans to latch onto, but now the music has gone so much further that it appeals to a lot more people.
Bassnectar We had our rave scene in the ’90s, too, but it never burst. The fact that it’s bursting now, so far after everywhere else, is making it more intense than anywhere else. There are countless DJs from overseas who come over here and are blown away because they think of America as rock and hip-hop. I don’t think this is a fad or something that’s just a strange glitch in the matrix. I think it’s going to be a game-on scenario for the evolution of every style, incorporating this new enhancement.
Kaskade Now that it’s getting bigger, I think we surpassed what’s going on in Europe. It’s interesting to see [European DJs] come over because now half of them are residing in Los Angeles or coming to Vegas every other month because there’s so much happening over here right now. It’s just done a 180.
Bassnectar One thing that keeps blowing my mind is how unclear a lot of people are on what exactly the difference is between a producer and a musician and a DJ. Whether you’re a DJ on the radio playing back music or whether you’re getting stoned in your car and playing back music for your friend or you’re in some 1970s Jamaican dance hall, whatever the fuck it is, it’s a legitimate thing and only when you judge it in comparison to playing in a rock band does the credibility suddenly become suspect.
Kaskade This is what the mau5 was talking about. He got a bunch of flak for what he said in Rolling Stone, just like, “We all press play, this is what we’re doing.” The term DJ doesn’t bother me. The art of DJing as you and I know it, it’s a very subtle art. Blending tracks and weaving and manipulating prerecorded music to create this mood, some people do it much better than others.