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Lord of the Dance

Evanston DJ and record producer Kaskade, a fave of Lady Gaga and Justin Timberlake, hopes to score his first Grammy this month. 

Kaskade’s Hots
The Field Museum, Lou Malnati’s, Garrett Popcorn (“Every Christmas I order a tub of it”), the Bears


Kaskade’s Nots
Winter, the Kennedy expressway from the airport, August (“because it’s 105 degrees and 90 percent humidity!”)

DJ, record producer and now 2013 Grammy nominee Kaskade knows what you’re thinking. Yes, he’s well aware that his stage name is that of a detergent. “My wife said the same thing,” he laughs. So he switched the Cs to Ks, and explained that it came from a picture of a waterfall he saw in a nature book while trying to come up with a hip moniker years ago.

Obviously it worked for the Evanston native and Glenbrook North alum, 41, whose real name is Ryan Raddon. Currently nominated for his first Grammy for best dance/electronica album for Fire & Ice, it’s icing on the cake for what has already been a very sweet journey, thanks in big part to his hometown. “I discovered electronic music because of it,” he says of the Windy City. “Chicago fostered that music and culture for me early on.” He’s been named America’s No. 1 DJ by DJ Times and Pioneer DJ, and The New York Times called him ‘the new face of electronic dance music.’ But explaining what that means, exactly, can be tricky.

“When my mom thinks of what a DJ is, she thinks of Dick Clark or a radio personality,” he admits. “I think the term DJ misrepresents what’s going on in electronic music, but nobody’s come up with a better terminology for it.” 

What is going on is that Kaskade composes his own music on a laptop, acting almost as a one-man band. “Instead of strumming a guitar, I’m composing it on the computer.” That talent has led superstars ranging from Lady Gaga to Justin Timberlake to trust Kaskade with their own remixes—if he has time, of course. Married to wife Naomi, and father to three daughters ages 3, 7 and 9, Kaskade is a family man first. “They listen to my music and get a kick out of it,” he says. “But sometimes they’re like, ‘Dad, can’t you just get Katy Perry on a song?’”