Ten years ago this month, I put my entire heart and soul into an album called, “It’s You, It’s Me”.
Let me just throw a flashback at you: At the time I was working on this album, things were desperate. I knew that if this album didn’t work out, I would have to choose a different path. I wasn’t making any money, and my wife and I were trying to live off her income in San Francisco. We were going into debt. We lived in an apartment above a bar that stayed open until 4 AM every night. We had to have roommates to make rent. My studio was housed in an old hair salon that was permeated with the stench of hair products. It was a scary time, because I knew I couldn’t work the same hustle I had been pulling off for the past ten years, forever. I knew that this was my last shot, and that if people didn’t find it, if this album didn’t stick, I’d have to hang it up and move on.
I tried to make peace with that idea. I tried to prepare myself for that eventuality, that music would just be a hobby. I could dig in my crate on my off time, spend Saturday nights DJing at home or maybe land the occasional club gig. I would know that at least I gave it a real effort, I gave it my best shot.
With this internal conversation being played in my head, I crossed my fingers and mailed a CD (yes, USPS snail mail with an actual silver disc inside) to Ben Watt of Everything but the Girl, and his partner Jay Hannan. They were running a London deep house Sunday club called Lazy Dog. A CD and compilation series by the same name was also being put out by them. I knew they probably wouldn’t even look at it, much less play it. I loved the single but this track was down the street and around the corner from the neighborhood of what was popular at the time.
A phone call came from Jay Hannan. Not only had he listened to it, but “It’s You, It’s Me” was playing heavily at their club, and was smashing it.
Something crucial changed for me right then. I realized that I alone was responsible to make music that was true to me, and that I then had to stand behind it. I decided to name the album after the single, and to go as hard as I could with pushing this song out there.
I landed a gig playing a party at WMC 2003, slated to go on following the legendary King Britt. It was a packed club. It was easily the biggest audience I had ever played to at that point. “It’s You, It’s Me” as a single had only been out for around two months. I opened with it.
The crowd absolutely went nuts.
Not only was “It’s You, It’s Me” the biggest record of the night, it ended up dominating the conference. It was at this moment that I felt like I started to breathe again. I knew that I had a seat at the table, that I was going to be a part of this landscape of House Music. I didn’t know how exactly, or where it was going to take me, but I knew people were going to listen.
“It’s You, It’s Me” opened every door I needed to bust through; to lead with my heart and create the slap and bass that would paint the audio pictures I was put here to make.
To the ones who were there in the beginning, who have moved on: I thank you. To the ones who have recently found me: I thank you. And to the ones who are just joining now: I thank you. And most importantly, gratitude to the ones who have been holding me up, supporting me with their words and by showing up since the very beginning.
Ten years ago, this month. A lot has changed, and very little has changed. There are fewer and fewer intimate gigs, and more stadium style sets. But I am sentimental when it comes to looking back at that time of my life. This April there will be an opportunity for me to go back. I’d like you to be there, so keep up with me in the usual ways, and you’ll find out how. Then it’s you, then it’s me in love.
This is a poster I drew for Luis Dubuc’s new musical project, Mystery Skulls who have a residency at the Bootleg Theater in February. He used to do a metal band called Of Legends that I also did album art for.
When Ultra hit me up with the idea of putting out a “Best Of/Greatest Hits” compilation, I laughed. I feel like I am JUST NOW hitting my stride as a songwriter and producer. In 2005 I had a similar reaction when Om Records prepared to do the same with the compilation “Here & Now”. I understand that this is what labels do: create compilations to recycle and re-purpose material they own. Salvage and re-salvage, it’s so very eco, very green, very now. But I’m still not quite ready to say this is it. This the the Best and Greatest.
To help wrap my head around the concept, I looked at the idea as more of a snapshot of transitions made by me as an artist over the past five albums. There are so many stories in each of these songs, so many memories. And suddenly the title, “I Remember” made sense, and the collection as a starting point for people who have just discovered me seemed cool. It’s a story. I can dig that.
Every song on “I Remember” is a piece of work I’m extremely proud of. It’s not a “Best Of”, but it is a good initiation into my world. I even dare to dream that if someone discovers this album and enjoys it, they’ll dig deeper into my catalog, and find some of the quieter moments that aren’t as obvious. Tracks that make those albums, and me as an artist - truly unique.
Go deeper. There’s more to be heard.
Now, for all who cannot be bothered to read words in paragraph form (I’m not judging, I’m one of you), here’s the quick and dirty FAQ:
Q: Uh, I think I’ve heard all these songs before.
A: YES, “I Remember” is a compilation of singles I’ve released over the past six years. These songs are sort of the touchstones from each album that I’ve put out with Ultra.
Q: So why a “Greatest Hits” thing now? Are you done making music?
A: Shut yo’ mouth! Never!! This is what labels do when their artists either die or leave the label. Ultra has cultivated a collection of fan-favorites and put them together on this release.
Q: Ok, I’d like to get some of this. It’s quite lovely to have some of my favorite tracks by you in one neat and tidy package. How and when can I get my hands on it?
A: Digital download is available July 22, 2014 on iTunes. Pre-orders of CD’s available on Amazon now, here.
Q: Why didn’t you put “(insert name of track not included)”
A: Ah, the arduous process of choosing your favorite children is both chilling and cruel. What it came down to was what songs were actually most popular with the fans. These may or may not reflect my own favorites. I agree with you that “(insert name of track not included)” should have been on it, and I fought like a champ for it. Down with the man!!
Q: But seriously, Ryan. Why pant cuffs with flip flops?
A: It’s either that or get my hair highlighted. You do the math.
Track list for “I Remember” includes:
1. I REMEMBER (STROBELITE MIX)
3. ANGEL ON MY SHOULDER
KASKADE, FT. TAMRA KEENAN
4. TURN IT DOWN
KASKADE, FT. REBECCA & FIONA
5. STARS ALIGN
KASKADE,FT. MINDY GLEDHILL
7. MOVE FOR ME
8. LESSONS IN LOVE
KASKADE, FT. NEON TREES
9. BE STILL
10. NO ONE KNOWS WHO WE ARE
KASKADE,SWANKY TUNES, FT. LIGHTS
KASKADE, FT. HALEY
KASKADE, ADAM K. FT. SUNSUN
13. FIRE IN YOUR NEW SHOES
KASKADE, FT. DRAGONETTE
14. LAST CHANCE
KASKADE, PROJECT 46
16. ROOM FOR HAPPINESS (ICE MIX)
KASKADE, FT. SKYLAR GREY
17. I’LL NEVER DREAM I’M IN LOVE
KASKADE, ALEX GUADINO
18. *SOMETHING SOMETHING CHAMPS (RADIO EDIT)
KASKADE, MOGUAI FEATURING ZIP ZIP THROUGH THE NIGHT
Miguel Migs and Meshell Mdegeocello both have the remedy for those Friday afternoon blues with this beauty of a track entitled 'Tonight’.For those of you stuck behind the desk on this brisk Fall afternoon, remember the weekend’s on its way.