Welcome to Paradise: Obama's Choice DJ Discusses His Master Plan for Dance Music

With turntabling skills that could make even the President get down (quite literally), it's no surprise that celebrity nightlife veteran DJ Cassidy would be able to round up a global dance party of his own. There's no celebration Cassidy hasn't conquered — whether at the White House or by the sands of St. Tropez, he's won crowds over. The dapper disc jockey and producer is set to release a full-length album entitled "Paradise Royale" — a project four years in the making with a specific goal in mind: to recreate dance music's golden age for today's generation.

"I reunited 22 of the most legendary musicians of the late 1970s and early 1980s for the first time in one room in over 30 years to capture their definitive sound, which I believe to be the greatest dance music of all time," he said. "Paradise Royale" features the vocal stylings of current favorites including John Legend, R. Kelly, Usher, Passion Pit, Robin Thicke, and more. The album's list of players includes multiple greats from what Cassidy considers the "architects" of the dance music of the late '70s and early '80s — Nile Rodgers, Kool & the Gang, and Earth, Wind & Fire among them.

DJ Cassidy took a break from shooting the music video for his upcoming single "Make the World Go 'Round" (out on iTunes Apr. 22) featuring R. Kelly to chat with Yahoo Music about the journey behind his history-making work.

YAHOO: What was it like to work with R. Kelly on "Make the World Go 'Round"? 

DJ CASSIDY: To recruit R. Kelly for this album, I traveled to Chicago eight times over the course of 20 months, stalked him on six shows during his Love Letter Tour, and went to Barnes & Noble, bought his book and waited in line for seven hours to get to the front. To recruit him for the video was no easy feat. But R. Kelly is an elusive man of mystery, and he’s a genius. This behavior should not be confused with lack of dedication to the project. He could not in fact be more supportive, and I really should and could say the same thing for everyone on the album.

Of all these artists, who were most excited to collaborate with? 

It’s impossible to put people on a hierarchy. These are all renowned artists — some of the past and some of the present. They’re all people I look up to and admire in different ways. The musicians were all a part of some of the greatest songs of the era — and in my opinion, some of the greatest songs of all time. Specifically, some of the greatest dance songs of all time.

To be in the studio with musicians who are so renowned, so legendary, so iconic, so experienced — I could list words that describe them for an hour. It was a surreal experience, 'cause not only were they so eager to teach and to help and to tell stories and lessons, but they were eager to be produced and to be directed. That’s really the sign of a true artist.

So, tell me about the video. What can we expect from it? 

We’re going to use the city of Chicago to represent the melting pot of our world and how one music can bring all people together. No better place to shoot that than in [R. Kelly's] hometown.

In the video for "Calling All Hearts" (ft. Robin Thicke and Jessie J), you slip on a hat and it takes you to your vision of paradise. Have there been any events in the real world that have been close to paradise for you?

It may be the cliché answer that everyone expects, but DJing at the White House was the greatest. I was the first DJ to ever play a presidential inauguration; I was the first DJ to ever play at the White House. These are kind of iconic moments in our lives — they’re really monumental occasions to celebrate. To be even the smallest part of that is a really meaningful thing; it always gets more and more surreal every time. If my career as a DJ and a producer ended today, those memories would be enough to keep a smile on my face for the rest of my life.

It was cool to see that Frankie Knuckles had remixed a version of "Calling All Hearts." In light of his recent passing, did he inspire your career in any way? 

Absolutely. Frankie Knuckles came from soul music — soul music of the late '70s influenced him to essentially become the godfather of house music. I wish this song could’ve allowed me and him to really get to know each other and I didn’t have that opportunity, but I’m truly honored. I knew he was sick, but had no idea it was like this. It’s a surreal thing to think one of the last things, if not the last thing, he worked on was my song.

You’re obviously a stylish guy. Are there any musicians whose style you admire in particular? 

Yes, André 3000. Everything he wears looks cool. It doesn’t matter if he’s wearing, like, football shoulderpads and parachute pants or a navy double-breasted jacket with cashmere pants. He looks fly in whatever he wears. He also looks timeless in whatever he wears. He looks distinguished in whatever he wears. He can pull off everything, but everything is outlandish and sophisticated at the same time.

What did you think of his overalls at Coachella? 

That was a laid-back outfit for him. When he throws s--- together, it looks better than what most people plan.

Do you have any opinions on the recent explosion of dance music culture in the U.S.?

I think it’s great. I think electronic dance music has helped DJ culture grow. I think any genre of music where the DJ is kind of lifted to a new plateau and forefront is great for us all, whether it’s hip-hop, EDM, or anything in-between. Also, it brings the dance element back into pop music. There’s all different kinds of music people make for the dance floor. I make music for the dance floor. And EDM culture and the explosion of it has really brought the dancing back into pop music, and I love it.