It's a Tuesday evening. House producer and DJ Ryan Raddon (aka Kaskade) works on his latest high-profile studio project. But when he tries to describe it, he bursts into laughter. "I'm working on a Britney Spears remix," he finally admits with a sigh. "I was thinking to myself, 'Am I embarrassed to say that?'"
It's an officially sanctioned reworking of Brit's supposed comeback single, "Gimme More." (Y'know, the tune she performed to universal mockery at this year's VMAs.) But Spears isn't the only pop artist to be fed through Raddon's "house machine." His remix of Timberlake's "LoveStoned" reached no. 12 on Billboard, while Nelly Furtado, the Pussycat Dolls, and even Paris Hilton have gotten the treatment as well.
But Kaskade's work is definitely not handbag disco fluff. Born and raised in Chicago, he caught the dance bug during the city's golden era of house in the '80s. In 2000, after relocating to San Francisco, he started doing A&R for the über-influential Om Records, which released his first single, "What I Say." For the next five years, Kaskade embodied Om's trademark vibe: organic, funky, and shot through with live jazz instrumentation.
Last year, however, he split for Ultra Records. "Om is a boutique label that specializes in one sound, and Ultra is a much broader stage," he explains. "I used to describe myself as organic-sounding house music, and I think it definitely still has that flavor. But recently the stuff's been getting a bit more epic-sounding."