Nov 06, 2013
Pasquale Rotella

Pasquale Rotella is a man who needs no introduction–his Insomniac Events brand has achieved some of the largest electronic music festivals to ever touch U.S. soil. In this exclusive interview, Pasquale talked to us about his early days as a raver and promoter, the Live Nation partnership, and what’s in store for the “headliners” this weekend at EDC Orlando.

LessThan3: How are preparations for EDC Orlando going?
Pasquale: EDC Orlando is going to be great—we’re not going the scenic stage route this time; instead we’re doing amazing “technology” stages. This is mainly because Orlando always has the possibility of random bad weather coming through very quickly. We had to shut down the mainstage in the middle of Tiesto last year because of it. I didn’t want to risk that again, so we decided to go with technology stages rather than scenic stages—they’re fairly weatherproof and covered. In warm weather the energy of the crowd goes up a bit when it rains, so my goal is to let that happen if it does and not have to shut down the festival. We also have an amazing lineup–by far the best one we’ve had in the last six months.
LessThan3: Are there any particular acts that you’re excited for?
Pasquale: I really like Zeds Dead, and I always love seeing the crowd go crazy during Calvin Harris. I haven’t had Kaskade at a festival in a while—he hasn’t played EDC Vegas in 2 years. He’s one of the most requested guys I get. I’m also really excited for New World Punx, Markus and Ferry’s collaboration. I’ll be front and center for that one.
LessThan3: What have been some memorable sets for you at your own festivals throughout the years?
Pasquale: I loved a lot of the sets Moby and Rabbit In The Moon used to do way back in the day at my first shows. Also, again, Calvin Harris. At EDC Vegas the whole crowd from the front to the back, 50K people, just went off in an insane way during his set. I also recently put Zeds Dead on a more commercial stage at EDC New York as well, and they dropped a drum & bass track and people went nuts. They weren’t afraid to do it. Seeing them rock a stage that normally has more commercial stuff was an amazing experience. When I think back to specific sets, I just think about overlooking the crowd and seeing the energy. I only care about what is happening right now and whether the crowd is engaged. I’ve had those moments with hundreds of DJs in the last 20 years.
LessThan3: What has the Live Nation partnership enabled you to do that you weren’t able to do before?
Pasquale: With everything going on in the market and the influx of people interested in jumping into the business, the partnership helps me when positioning myself. It’s a huge advantage when I want to do EDC London and Live Nation already has an office there with the political connections and venue relationships, so I can just plug into their network rather than having to do it all myself. EDC London would not have happened without the partnership. I want to spread the love and spirit that is cultivated from our events, and I am also building my dream and making a living out of it, and I don’t want to be limited. Live Nation is able to help me grow and expand in a way that I could not have done on my own. I’ve been talking about stepping up our merchandise lately because the fans want good quality stuff and they want more of it, and after speaking with Live Nation I find out that they have a full-on merch company that they’re involved with and a fulfillment company. It makes expansion so much easier.
LessThan3: How important is it for the leader of a large brand to have a strong presence on social media in the way that you do?
Pasquale: I used to pass out flyers after shows back when I first started, and that’s how I got information about what people liked and didn’t like and what they thought of the show. It’s important to stay engaged because the event is for the people attending, so if you’re not listening to them then you’re not satisfying on the level that you should. I care about the experience and making people happy—it’s why I do this before everything else. If I can have people get away from their everyday problems for a night, that’s success for me. Social media has allowed me to keep an ear to the street without having to actually be on the street as much as I used to have time for. It helps me grow and learn. Sometimes I will hear about DJs that I’m not familiar with just because fans inquired about them on social media. Same goes with issues at my festivals—problems at the gate and such. The internet is even better than the street for things like that because it’s much easier to engage and communicate directly with who you want to speak to without them being in front of you.
LessThan3: Have you achieved your “dream festival” yet or do you think you’re still working toward it?
Pasquale: Sometimes I have to stop myself and say “you know what? This is where I imagined getting to at one point.” I used to never take anything in—I was always on to the next thing. I still am like that, but now I take moments to be grateful and reminisce about when we just dreamed of getting to this point. The journey is part of the fun. I love my job, and I know myself well enough to know that I will continue to have new goals, and that’s what keeps us innovative. That’s why I believe we have loyal fans who appreciate what we do.
LessThan3: What do promoters who are getting into the scene now need to do to differentiate themselves?
Pasquale: It starts with what you’re passionate about. I found my passion in events and I honed in on that. When you have that fueling you, you get stuff done; you’re not just doing it because of the money or because it’s a cool thing to do. It’s a hard job—a lot harder than it seems from a distance. You just have to do what you feel and go for it. Don’t create any obstacles in your mind. You need to have the feeling that you are going to make something happen at all costs, and that feeling has to come from a positive place. Get inspiration from other people in your field, too—we are flattered when we see festivals emulate some of the things we do. I get inspiration from all kinds of places—Disneyland, movies, other festivals—and I try to combine these experience in a whole new way and make it my own.
LessThan3: We really enjoyed our time at Escape From Wonderland this year. Are there any plans in the works to do any two- or three-day events at San Manuel Amphitheater coupled with camping?
Pasquale: Absolutely. As far as specific festivals, we’re not entirely sure which ones it will be, but multi-day camping festivals at San Manuel Amphitheater are a go for 2014.
LessThan3: If the world were ending in LessThan3 minutes, and you had an iPod with every song ever made on it, what would you listen to?
Pasquale: Either Bob Marley or Led Zeppelin. I don’t know if I’d want to go out in a peaceful kind of way or a “f*ck it” kind of way.
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