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How Kaskade and Deadmau5 teamed up as Kx5 for Coliseum show

Kaskade and Deadmau5, two of the biggest stars of electronic dance music, have worked together occasionally over the 15 or so years since they first met.

Their 2008 single “I Remember” is a classic of the EDM genre, one of a handful of hits the two have made together. When Kaskade became the first artist to headline the then-new SoFi Stadium in 2021, he invited Deadmau5 to open for him.

Earlier this year, Kaskade, the stage name of Ryan Raddon, and Deadmau5, the performance name of Joel Zimmerman, decided to make it just a bit more official. They announced a collaboration called Kx5; under that moniker, they’ve been releasing singles all year, which will be collected as an album in 2023.

They decided not to tour but will play the occasional one-off concert, which brings Kx5 to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, Dec. 10. Deadmau5 and Kaskade will share the stage as a duo for only the second time since they debuted the act at Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas in May.

“I think the ambitions we had for what we wanted to do with our reoccurring collaboration stuff, it just kind of made sense to unify it under a separate umbrella,” Deadmau5 says on a recent video call with Kaskade. “That way we can just throw each other under the bus for once in our careers.

“Like Ryan mentioned in an earlier interview, ‘If something sucks, I can just blame Joel,’” he says.

“And vice-versa,” Kaskade says.

“We never really had that in our careers,” Deadmau5 adds as they both laugh. “Well, no, not just for that. But it definitely provides kind of a small ancillary of what we each do. That we can have fun with and not have to worry about the existential future of Kx5 as we do our own careers.

“You know, Kx5, it dies in a house fire, so what,” he says. “There’s still Deadmau5, there’s Kaskade.”

In an interview edited and condensed for clarity, Kaskade and Deadmau5 talked about their long friendship, making music together, and how they see their role as performers, among other topics.

Q: How did you first become aware of each other as DJs and producers almost 20 years ago now?

Deadmau5: I think Ryan found me.

Kaskade: Yeah, every release Joel – you – were putting out there for a minute was just pegging it, like, always charting really high. I was like, ‘Who is this guy?’ So I reached out to him and was like, ‘Hey, man, we should do something together. I like writing songs, and you’re sonically lightyears ahead of where anyone else is. Like, dude, your melodies are awesome. I’d love to write something to this. That was the genesis.

Q: Casual music fans sort of picture the DJ-producer working alone in the laboratory, coming up with beats and melodies and creating this thing. How does it work with two people?

Deadmau5: It’s the same. It’s still a solo thing really on both our parts. Ryan was a big fan of the melodies, and ‘I Remember,’ when I gave it to Ryan, his contribution to that was accompanying the vocal with it and doing some arrangement, and then he sends it back. So it’s still two lone wolves kind of doing their own thing.

Kaskade: Honestly, I think that appeals to both of us. Sometimes it’s painful to answer to somebody. Like, ‘Wait, what time can you do the press?’ I mean it’s just a pain for both of us. Like, ‘Oh yeah, this is why we work independently. We have a good time, we’ve known each other for a long time, but I’m always like, ‘Oh, yeah, this why I was never in a band. I’m just too selfish.’

Q: Why do you think ‘I Remember’ and some of your other collaborations together connected so strongly with fans?

Deadmau5: Oh geez, these are existential questions. Like, what’s it like when you die?

Kaskade: I can give you a pretty decent answer and I’ll stroke Joel. For me, when I first heard Joel, it was sonic innovation. I think Joel nailed a sound that nobody else was doing. And that paired with a cool, great song, to me, that’s a hit. Sonic innovation and a great melody and lyrics that kind of says something, it takes it into some other place.

Dude, I hear rips of ‘I Remember,’ people trying to remake it or remixing it illegally, or doing the same song and calling it something different and acting like it’s theirs. Honestly, I’ve probably heard thousands of imitations. That’s because it resonated with people.

Q: How is your work together different than your solo work?

Deadmau5: Well, from my end they have words. And then maybe for Ryan, it’ll have a melody that Ryan might not have conjectured from a vocal stem that he got.

Kaskade: For sure. I’m looking for inspiration from Joel and vice-versa. I think it’s an excuse to just do something creatively that I wouldn’t have tried on my own. Like I was, ‘OK, cool, we can make this bigger sounding.’ Like, ‘Oh, this is a great track for the Coliseum.’

Q: Have you ever played the Coliseum before?

Deadmau5: We both have. Didn’t you play EDC there, Ryan?

Kaskade: Yeah, ’09, 2020 or whatever. Dude, I think we played next to each other.

Q: Talk about the production you’ve created – will it be similar to what you did at EDC in Vegas earlier this year?

Deadmau5: There are some things that’ll probably be reused but in new ways. We had engineered and built with my production company these two massive podiums that go along on a track and rotate and it’s pretty cool. And then we’ll add to it because there were obviously a few restrictions with the festival that we don’t control. There was stuff where it was like, ‘You know, it’d be better …’, and they’re like, ‘Yeah, but like 30 other DJs are playing on the same stage, so maybe not.’

Q: How do you perform onstage, and especially, how much are able to collaborate in the moment?

Deadmau5: It’s a show very signposted with technology and movement and things that could kill you if you’re not in the right place at the right time. Once those signposts are tied in then it’s kind of like my job and Ryan’s job to just rehearse in the sense that we have some toys up there, some touchscreen elements that we can trigger loops and kind of freestyle and jam out a little bit.

But we’re definitely not in communication with other in the sense that I can be like, ‘Yo, I’m gonna play this track instead just out of nowhere.’ Because we don’t want to throw production off the loop.

Q: This is tech Joel created it. How was it like for you, Ryan, to figure it out on the fly at EDC?

Kaskade: Stepping up to it, I felt fairly comfortable, though it’s probably the most nervous I’ve been in a while. (Performing) with somebody else and new tech and, you know, girlfriends running on the stage, whatever is happening. It was a lot. This was me stepping out of my comfort zone. For sure.

Deadmau5: That’s me every show when I try something: OK, let’s see what happens. I don’t do the DJ thing. Like, I just cannot. I like my stuff more signposted and tailored and playing in a runtime that I want. Versus kind of like being loosey-goosey, playing a track too long, and then, ‘Oh (bleep), I can’t play my big track because I went too long on this one song.’ I’m just not a DJ.

Kaskade: You’d be surprised how often that happens to me.

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