“America’s Best DJ” Kaskade starts a new winter residency at XS on Friday — without wearing a mouse head, or throwing pies at fans’ faces, unlike other star DJs.
“I’ve never been a dude for gimmicks,” Kaskade told me.
“I don’t have a mouse head,” he said, referring to DJ Deadmau5, who wears a big mouse head.
“I’m not a pie-thrower,” he said, referring to DJ Steve Aoki, a master pie-thrower-at-his-happy-fans’-faces.
“My schtick has always been my music. I’ve always relied really heavily on what it’s gonna sound like. What is the night gonna sound like? What is the afternoon gonna sound like? What is the vibe of the party gonna be?”
Kaskade wants to be perfectly clear about two things. He digs his friends Deadmau5 and Aoki (he has worked with both to great effect). And he kind of wishes he could pull off their kinds of visual enhancements.
“Listen, a great gimmick’s amazing — DJing with a Superman cape or whatever,” Kaskade said.
“Deadmau5 makes great music. The fact that he wears a light-up helmet is cool. It’s something interesting. I’ve seen his show many times. I love it.”
Kaskade said if he tried to wear a helmet or throw pies, it wouldn’t come off as naturally.
“I don’t know if I’m not clever enough,” he said. “I always just focused on what I was gonna do musically.”
That approach has worked. Kaskade just won the reader’s choice award for “America’s Best DJ” from DJ Times magazine.
On Friday night, Kaskade takes his musical skills to XS nightclub. It will be the first time he has officially headlined there in quite a while.
He has served as the main resident DJ at rival Marquee nightclub for several years.
But he headlined at XS first, years ago, before Marquee was built, so he is returning to XS for a winter residency.
The XS gig is so new, this interview was conducted with Kaskade while he was still at Marquee.
But transitions — between clubs and between music sounds — are inherent to DJing.
Earlier this year, Kaskade began a tour of underground clubs across America — clubs he hasn’t been to in years — to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the album that broke open his career, “It’s You, It’s Me.”
“That record changed my life, and it connected me to so many people,” Kaskade said.
“When I was playing ‘It’s You It’s Me,’ I was still eating Cheerios for lunch and Top Ramen for dinner.”
So Kaskade decided to go back to those clubs to give back to the older fans.
He was surprised to find the sold-out underground shows populated with younger fans, too.
“I knew there were people who love deep house and love that album. I just didn’t think there would be so many new people who would be so intrigued and would want to participate in this.
“For me, it’s like an indulgence,” he said. “I love playing really deep and slow. It’s totally a selfish thing. But it’s cool to see other people getting into it too.”
Doug Elfman’s column appears on Page 3A in the main section on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He also writes for Neon on Fridays. Email him at email@example.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.