The man behind Electric Daisy Carnival tells Remix what it feels like to host over 450,000 people each year for the world's largest dance music festival.
25 years ago, did you ever dream that Insomniac events would become what it has today?
I’m still dreaming about where to take things today. I don’t think I’ll ever be as far as the dream is taking me. I have to check myself to be in the present moment. When I first started in Insomniac [Events], I would stay up late at night thinking about what I wanted to do. All the details weren’t there - it wasn’t about a specific number of people I wanted to bring together. In my head I just saw a sea of people. I didn’t see where the end was and I still don’t.
How are you different and how are you the same as that young man from 25 years ago?
I love it just as much, if not more, as I did when I first started. I dream the same. I care about this on the same level as I cared when I first started. The difference is that I’m not alone any more. I’m fortunate enough to have people that believe, support and hold the torch with me.
What has been the most significant shift in your industry in the past 25 years?
What I’m able to put into a show on a production and experience level is beyond anything I could afford before, and the support from the community is stronger than it’s ever been. There has always been a community behind Insomniac, but the size of it today is very different. We always want to have the best and newest technology. Each year there are new genres supported and artists that grow rapidly.
When you look back on 25 years, is there a festival or a moment that stands out to you personally?
There are so many amazing moments that stand out. Definitely the first time I brought EDC to Las Vegas. It seems like a no-brainer now, but back then we didn’t know if our fans would go to Vegas. This was before Hakkasan and Omnia. Also, the last event at the LA Coliseum was definitely another special moment. Nocturnal Wonderland 1999 on the Indian Reservation and the challenges to make that event happen. The sunrise set was something I will never forget. There are so many.
As Electric Daisy Carnival approaches each year, does the enormity of the event dawn on you?
More than I can ever describe. I walk around EDC Las Vegas and my jaw drops at what goes on around me. I pinch myself. I don’t connect to the crowd at EDC Las Vegas in the same way I connect to the crowds of my intimate shows. Obviously, I feel connected to it, it’s one of my babies and I treat them all the same, but it’s extremely unique within the portfolio of events I produce. It’s still jaw-dropping to me and that’s me working and understanding and knowing what’s going to happen; I can’t imagine what it’s like for people who attend and don’t know all the amazing surprises.
Do you find your clubs and smaller events remain important at introducing you to upcoming talent and emerging artists?
Absolutely. They are definitely hubs for up-and-coming talent. I really enjoy offering different options to artists. I don’t just want to call them once a year and say ‘come be part of this huge festival’. I want to contribute to their careers all year round, with them playing small-sized venues and medium venues, concerts, festivals and events that are all talent showcases in their own way.
You recently made a foray into fashion with Insomniac Ltd. Tell us about the collection and how it came about?
I’ve always loved fashion. I’m so busy and the company has always come first, but if you look back at my wardrobe, you can see I’ve always loved fashion. It started in the early days in the underground scene; there was a lot of fashion coming out from the rave culture in the early ’90s. Music and fashion tie into each other - it’s an expression of individuality, art and culture. I didn’t get to it as fast as I wanted, but I’ve finally launched a few different fashion lines with someone I’ve looked up to who was a pioneer in fashion from the early days. I tracked him down, his name is Rick Klotz. I didn’t know him, but I looked up to him and bought everything that he used to put out. I brought him in to be a part of the family here and we are going for it – jumping in with both feet.
As a successful businessman, what advice would you give to young entrepreneurs or artists starting out? What is your most significant learning from this journey so far?
For those starting out, you have to be extremely passionate to make it. If you don’t wake up thinking about the business you want to be in and go to sleep thinking about it, then it’s probably going to be pretty hard for you to make it. I had to learn how to have a good time and laugh and not take everything too seriously. Also, things being done differently doesn’t mean they are being done wrong. I was a one-man show and with the growth of Insomniac, I wanted to take things to a global level, so I had to let go and stop micro-managing everything.