San Francisco house producer/DJ Kaskade (AKA Ryan Raddon) first caught the attention of Om Records owner Chris Smith while working as an assistant at the label, when he slipped a couple of tracks into some piles of solicited material. While the boss--unaware that the artist he was trying to reach actually worked for him--was calling him on his cell, Raddon was in the next room trying to play it cool, worrying about not abusing his inside connection. It was a humble approach to getting noticed, and one that's admirable in a music world where most would sell their own mother's kidney if it would help get their music in the right hands. It didn't take long, though, for Om Records (home to artists like Ming + FS, King Britt, and Mark Farina) to figure out their own employee was responsible for some of the new tracks they were so excited about and they quickly signed him up, eventually offering him his current day job as Om's A&R director as well.

Originally from Chicago, Kaskade, like many others in his field, was hugely influenced by the first wave of the Chicago house scene in the '80s, when people like Frankie Knuckles (before he left for New York) and Derrick Carter were playing at parties, teen dances, clubs, and on local radio stations. After feeling like a little fish in a big pond, Kaskade left for Salt Lake City in 1991 to find some clarity within a smaller scene. When he got to Utah, though, he was confronted with no scene at all. He settled in anyway and started what eventually became Utah's best vinyl shop, Mechanized Records, and established a five-year-long residency at Club Manhattan before moving to the dance capital of the West Coast, San Francisco, and signing on with Om.

Kaskade's first major project for the label was mixing 2002's Sounds of Om, Vol. 3, which displayed a consistent track selection of smooth, melodic, and uplifting deep house; it was also the perfect way to showcase his own productions, which were already gaining momentum on their own. In 2003 he released his first full-length LP, It's You, It's Me, which was met with much acclaim within the electronic dance community. On this release, Kaskade chose to venture outside of the pure 4/4 house structure in anticipation of moving into broader production palettes (luckily Om embraces dance beats of all meters and swing). At this year's Winter Music Conference, it seems Kaskade was the toast of Miami, voted as URB Magazine's "Best Up & Coming DJ" in its "The Very Best of Miami '03" article. This Saturday, Kaskade will be here to help Minty Magazine celebrate the one-year anniversary of its "Fresh" parties at Re-bar. NICOLAE WHITE

Fresh One-Year Anniversary featuring Kaskade w/Jon Lemmon and Ronn-e, Sat July 12 at Re-bar, 1114 Howell St, 233-9873, 9 pm-2 am, 21+, $12.