Since Cascada’s inception in 2004, they have sold more than 30 million records worldwide. Their iconic track "Everytime We Touch" has garnered over 200 million views on YouTube, where the group has amassed a total of over 1 billion views. They represented Germany in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2013 and are the third most successful act from Germany of the 21st century. The list of accolades goes on.
When Cascada vocalist Natalie Horler first got started in the music industry at the age of 17, she was doing a lot of toplining for producers. She’d get paid in cash and then go on her way to the next gig, until she met her Cascade bandmates, DJ Manian, and Yann Peifer.
Since she was so young, inexperienced, and nervous, Horler was not comfortable singing in front of people—though she sang all of the time and told her teachers that she was going to be famous one day.
“I literally—and this is no joke—made them turn and face the wall,” Horler said with a smile on the When Life Hands You Lennons podcast. "They were not allowed to look at me when I sang. I swear on my life that is the honest truth. I was that nervous and inexperienced.”
But she didn’t let her nerves get to her and remained persistent. Cascada’s sonic fluidity over the years allowed them to pioneer a genre that is now more prevalent than ever: hard dance.
Hard dance has expanded vastly over the years. Gammer, Darren Styles, Da Tweekaz, and Hardwell have all released tracks that fall into this category. These artists’ sounds and styles evolve over the years, and Cascada’s is no different. They have to give the fans what they want, but pleasing everyone doesn’t work.
This persistence and genre pioneering is turning out to be a positive endeavor for Cascada. Old fans are being re-engaged, and new fans are discovering the original music that laid the groundwork for the group.
“We do try to go back and forth a little bit because you want to give the fans what they like,” Horler said. “It is a very difficult line to find that balance. You want to go with the times as well. I’m still very, very lucky to work as much as I do and it’s obviously because of the old music I’ve released in the past, of course. We’re still current to a certain extent, even though we’re not current, current, like in the charts everywhere. But we are still releasing music."
Their newest track, “One Last Dance” with Trans-X on Zooland Records, is a hybrid of their older sound and new styles. It’s snappy with its percussion and simplistic in production, spotlighting Horler’s vocals to flood energy onto the dancefloor.
“I’m always astounded as to who [still] listens to our music—even the real old stuff,” Horler continued. “At the moment, I would never think of retiring. I’m really in it and can’t wait for the future, touring, and making new music. Hopefully there will be exciting collaborations on the rise with current artists. I don’t know where it’s going to go, but the fact that it’s moving into our modern time again I find that extremely exciting. I’m all for it! I will definitely want to be along for the ride even though I’m from the old times.”
This musical diversity has played a key part in Horler’s joy in performing live because it’s a big mixture of all of the Cascada styles over the years. And as states and countries around the globe ease restrictions in the aftermath of the pandemic, tour and festival announcements are barreling out.
Horler and her team are getting excited about the world opening back up and live events coming back, and she said that she wants to get back to the US “hopefully next year.”
“We actually want to start touring the States again, and we’re looking into hopefully being able to do that and make it happen, say, next year,” Horler says while crossing her fingers. “I would be really psyched.”
Once Horler gets back on the stage and is fueled by fans’ energy, she’s ready to fully embrace Cascada's fabled 15-year catalog. She’s especially ready to perform one of her favorite Cascada tracks, "Like The Way I Do."
“I just love the melody. I love it," Horler gushed. "My problem in general is I would never be able to take a full written album and choose the one that’s going to make it to number one. I would not. I would probably choose the wrong one. That’s always been my trouble. I don’t know if that’s an artist's disadvantage or what."
Horler did, however, pick “Evacuate The Dancefloor” to be a hit. She recalls a moment where she played the track for her friends in her car before it was released anywhere and said that it had to be a success.
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Cascada got together with their team and label for an album listening party for the Evacuate The Dancefloor album in Cologne, Germany prior to its release. Its titular track opens with resounding synth chords that blast in your face. Horler and the team knew right away it was going to be a smashing success.
“Evacuate The Dancefloor” was released ahead of the eponymous album in June of 2009. It peaked at #5 on the German Singles Chart and also became Cascada’s third #1 single on the US Billboard Hot Dance Airplay chart and second Top 40 hit in the US Billboard Hot 100.
“We’re so proud of this,” Horler answers with a smile. “What are they going to think? They loved ‘San Francisco’ as well. ‘Evacuate The Dancefloor’ was definitely the one that stood out. I remember, before it was released anywhere, putting it on in my car and playing it for my mates. I remember thinking I’m loving this song. I love this so much. This has to be successful. Thankfully everyone felt the same, so it was picked as the first release of that album and it was quite the success.”
Except for performing live and being the face of Cascada, Horler is much more removed from the songwriting and production processes. She says that their records are mostly written by Yann and his “songwriting buddies.” When she heads into the studio, she interprets the Cascada tracks in her stentorian vocal style.
“I’ve always said [Cascada] was a band,” says Horler. “That’s because us three are the main people who are involved in making our music, but when it comes to live music and being on tour that literally is just me on stage with my crew which is Frank my manager and dancers who support me enormously in our performances.”
That doesn’t mean she doesn’t do any songwriting. She does write for herself and mentioned she is in talks with other producers for projects that are in the realm of R&B and jazz since that’s what she grew up in. Her father is a professional jazz musician who has worked with Quincy Jones, Stan Getz, and Tony Bennett. Her uncle is a jazz pianist.
Music runs fluidly in Horler’s family, but fashion has also been a big part of her life. Music doesn’t satiate her creativity enough. While she has no intention of designing for other people, she does her own styling for her clothes, looks, and props for music videos, photo shoots, and merchandise. She helped design her dress for the Eurovision Song Contest in 2013 and made the shoes herself.
“This is something I really enjoy doing, so I try to incorporate that into my job as well,” Horler says.
Horler keeps the doors open for fashion and notes that she may start a clothing line in the future. At the moment, however, she’s going to remain focused on music and getting more involved in Cascada's merchandise.
“I would like to have a [clothing] line one day or something like that,” she adds. “That’s all for the future. We’ll have to see. I certainly want to get more involved in our merchandise because that’s a good way to get some input into that.”
Horler's passion for fashion has turned her onto RuPaul’s Drag Race. She is so inspired and awed by the queens’ talent and zest for love, acceptance, and inclusivity.
“That is why I love the queens,” Horler exults. “Not only for their fabulous personalities and being so extroverted--I love that so much--but I’m very, very open to everything in life. I don’t have any judgement or qualms, and I'm tolerant towards everyone. That’s why I love [RuPaul’s Drag Race] so much.”
Horler has been in contact via Instagram with a number of the queens, including Season 10 winner Aquaria, Morgan McMichaels, and Ivy Winters. She loves Season nine winner Sasha Velour, too.
Horler is interested in upping her involvement with the show, she says, by being a guest on the panel and having the queens do a lip sync battle to one of Cascada’s songs. "I personally think that would be fabulous,” she says with a big smile. “I’d be there in an instant. I would love that!”
Eager to get back on tour, continue releasing new music, and hopefully appearing on the RuPaul’s Drag Race panel, it’s clear that Horler and Cascada have no intention of evacuating the dancefloor anytime soon.
Check out Horler's full interview on When Life Hands You Lennons below.