Pasquale Rotella’s inception of Insomniac was a warehouse rave in Los Angeles 23 years ago. It’s kind of a bigger deal today.
Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas, the company’s flagship event, is expected to draw 155,000 revelers to Las Vegas Motor Speedway each night from May 17 to 19.
The EDC spectacle has taken place at the speedway since 2011, and remains the largest electronic dance music, or EDM, festival in the country.
More than 250 artists are set to perform, including Strip mainstays Alesso, Kaskade, Deadmau5 and Steve Aoki. The scene will again blossom in a visual-audio spectacle, with eight stages, a carnival, the overnight Camp EDC area and the new Downtown EDC. This year’s festival theme is “Kinetic Energy,” and none other than Bill Nye, “The Science Guy,” is kicking off the event Friday night at Cosmic Meadow.
The founder of EDC fielded a few questions recently in the run-up to this year’s festival:
Review-Journal: Throughout the history of EDC, you’ve always said you want to improve and advance the event. What would you say is the biggest improvement for 2019 EDC?
Pasquale Rotella: So much, but the campgrounds — you will see a big improvement for Camp EDC. It’s being taken to another level. We are going to make the area more green with 2.5 million square feet of turf, artificial grass.
That’s become a real focal point just in its second year, Camp EDC.
It really has. It was buzzing last year. This year it’s going to be better. We are going to have more activities. Yoga, speakers, aerobics, great food options, a spa, you can get your hair cut — it’s going to be pretty bad-ass. I’ll be camping myself.
Yes, I am. I’m going with an RV, so I will be out there. Camping probably isn’t the right word. It’s “Camp Glamping.” I just thought of that right now. It’s Camp Glamping, these are all glamping things. I’m looking at my team, asking why they didn’t tell me this (laughs). Glamping. It’s funny.
Are you going to do social media updates from your RV out there?
Oh for sure. Definitely all weekend long.
When the lineup was announced, Pasquale, you mentioned Downtown EDC. What is that about?
Downtown EDC is a new zone, new area in the walls of the EDC festival. It’s our version of a downtown. There will be a drag queen bar, a mini bar, a punk rock bar, there’s karaoke, there’s a disco nightclub, there’s a wedding chapel. … The karaoke bar is like a Tokyo-style bar.
So you can go into these venues and be yourself or experience something different, since this is the first year, we are going to continue to enhance that experience. It’s going to be located near the Cosmic Meadow.
Is EDC now at its limit with the duration and with how many people it can hold? Or will it continue to grow?
If you think about it, EDC is actually five days now. Thursday, full-blown campgrounds are activated and we have a big party Thursday night, and then opening ceremony party, and people are leaving on Monday.
I mean, I have thought about doing an extra day for EDC. You know it’s not going to for-sure happen, but it’s such a big production to build, and to only have it for three days is insane. It’s a city we are building out there. But the camping has made it great, and I’m not shying away from it starting on Thursday and having the campgrounds open a day earlier.
Are you as active today in EDC operations as you were when it moved to Las Vegas in 2011?
Oh, no! Ha-ha! I am very active in everything we do, but I have the best people in the world working here. I have an amazing team and we are doing so much around the world. I’m more making sure everyone is doing their job versus actually doing it myself, because that would be impossible. I look at and work on everything, but we have a much larger team than we did the first year we were here. 2020 will be our 10-year anniversary.
Tell me about how the Bill Nye relationship with EDC started. That’s such an interesting connection. How did you guys find each other?
Something that I always knew but didn’t have the details about were about your brain and the science of the energy at the festivals, and how being around people who are putting out energy and dancing all around you, how that energizes you as an individual. I wanted to bring Bill Nye in to ask him and get scientific about it and if it’s true that you can feed off of it. You know, there’s the spiritual side of it, which is not his focus, but on the scientific side of it, it holds water.
I do believe in the soul side of it, the spiritual side, and that is also going to feed you, but that’s a different individual to verify. But on the scientific level, he was the perfect person to give the details on that and work that out for us, and we sought him out. I didn’t meet him in passing, it was, “Who would be the best person our audience would connect with?” We searched out Bill Nye.
I was thinking about you coincidentally recently as we’ve learned the Woodstock 50 has been called off or is at least in serious trouble. It’s a reminder of how difficult these things can be to stage. What did you think when you saw that?
It’s not good for anyone for something like a big festival canceling. It is very difficult. You have to have a lot of passion, and you can’t just be doing it for money. It’s very, very hard. It’s very risky. You have to prepare for everything that could go wrong, and it’s very expensive to put on one of these shows.
I would imagine that Woodstock probably was a $60-$70 million show, so it’s a huge investment, and a legendary festival.
If you weren’t presenting mass gatherings for a living, what would you be doing?
I would probably surf a lot more, and I would probably own and run the best spas on the planet. I’m very attracted to creating Zen environments and giving people what they need for their soul. I still might do it in my life. The ultimate spa experiences that will clean your mind, body and soul. And, maybe something to do with getaways, something that will make you better and stronger, mentally and physically.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats! podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.