This Weekend's Electric Daisy Carnival: An Interview with Promoter Pasquale Rotella
By Dennis Romero
For the 13th year Los Angeles promoter Pasquale Rotella and his company Insomniac are putting on one of the nation's largest dance music festivals, Electric Daisy Carnival. We say festival because rave just doesn't do it justice, even though he started off in the glowstick underground.
Propaganda alert: This is the YouTube trailer for the show.
As far as we can tell EDC is the first true rave to expand to a two-day electronic music festival, the expansion of which is making its debut Friday and Saturday at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Exposition Park. The party defies the economy, the death of raving, and the evolution of dance music to include those indie-electro kids in punky colors. But here's EDC, acting like it's an urban Coachella. We asked Rotella, 34, a few questions about his big show.
LA Weekly: Why add a day to EDC, especially in this economy?
Pasquale Rotella: It's part of my big vision. I put a lot of energy into the production, and I always felt like people missed a lot of the aspects of the show because the event was only 12 hours. I also think it makes it more interesting for people to travel to a festival that's two days instead of 12 hours. It's not the best time to try to choose to do this. But hotels are plentiful, they're affordable, and there's enough excitement about the show. So I decided to go for it.
I wanted to add different talent to the show, and with more hours I was able to do that. Thievery Corporation is a good example. STS9, Shiny Toy Guns - those are not acts we would normally get. It's opening doors for different people to check it out. I want EDC to be known worldwide.
Are you influenced by other festivals?
I look at Bonnaroo. I look at Coachella. I look at Glastonbury. It's great to see those kinds of events have success, and we definitely get influenced by them. We've been thinking about it for a couple years. We want to get the Burning Man community. When you're out there in the desert all kinds of ideas come into your mind. There's a whole electro thing that's buzzing right now, too. We're booking more electro acts. But when I envision what I want a Daisy fan to be, I don't think of a burner or raver or electro kid. I really want it to be eclectic. I want it to be something for everyone.
It seems like there's a whole new generation of dance fans.
Young people are opening their minds a bit. They don't like just one certain kind of music. If it sparks something - electronic music, drum 'n' bass, rock 'n' roll - I'm in. There are a lot of artists, even DJs, bringing live elements to the stage. It's not just about playing the thumping, four-on-the-floor, same-old beat. They have singers, live instruments. What's happening in music right now is really exciting.
What are your audience goals?
We feel confident we can do 100,000 people over two days. Our presales are telling us we're looking good for 70,000 to 75,000 on Saturday and 30,000 to 35,000 on Friday.
Why do a Friday instead of a Sunday as the additional day?
I thought of people having to go to work on Monday. I also looked at other festvials around the world and tried to get a grasp of when the stronger nights were. I saw Friday as the stronger night [compared to Sunday].
You've been doing this since the early 1990s.
I did my first event in '92; I started Insomniac in '93.
Did you ever think it would still be happening, on such a grand scale, more than 15 years later?
When I dreamt about where I wanted to take things, I had big visions. I saw movie clips going through my mind with all kinds of ideas. I didn't' really think about 100,000 people though. I did know and feel confident that it would grow to a level where it wasn't an underground thing anymore. I didn't know it was going to be this big.
At what point did you realize it wasn't underground anymore?
I would say around '99, 2000, with the number of people, the kind of people who were going out, the commercial success of the acts, the acts getting radio play, the car commercials playing electronic music. You heard dance music everywhere. When I was going to my first events, I couldn't' even find out where to get the music. My first electronic mixtape was bought at a warehouse party from a girl all dressed up selling tapes from local DJs out of a tray. I tried to go to Tower records and there was nothing there.
Eh. There's nothing there now.
[Laughs]. It's definitely come back bigger, but it's way different. Look at the Black Eyed Peas working with Fedde Le Grand and Crookers. It's gotten a lot more commercial. Even hip-hop is dancey now. You'll go to a Hollywood club and hear Daft Punk and Lady Gaga in like the most commercial environment with bottle service. It wasn't like that back then. Now it's like, electronic-music artists sell tickets. Before it was about the party. I do Tiesto in Concert, and it does really well for me. He's a DJ who sells tickets like a rock act would. That wasn't happening in '99.
Electric Daisy Carnival happens Friday and Saturday with Thievery Corporation (live), Groove Armada, Paul Oakenfold, Paul van Dyk, David Guetta, Benny Benassi, The Crystal Method (live), Kaskade and more at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, 3939 S. Figueroa St., Exposition Park. 18+. Tickets $55-$75-and-up presale. Info: electricdaisycarnival.com.