Pasquale Rotella Talks Festival Culture & Current State of EDM

To thoroughly understand festival culture, one must tap into the fascinating mind of Pasquale Rotella. As the CEO and founder of Insomniac Events, he experienced firsthand the ups and downs and ultimate demise of the underground rave scene (as it once was), which paved the way for massive music festivals including EDC Las Vegas.


The death of the underground scene is exactly why he started Insomniac 25 years ago. Flash-forward to now, and festival culture is booming, with a new wave of EDM acts and no shortage of signature house and techno talent. It’s easy to tell, he’s fully fallen in love with the scene and has become the ultimate party thrower in the process.

In a new feature with Forbes, the publication picks the brain of Rotella as he remembers going from a nearly nonexistent festival culture to yearly events with upwards of 400,000 fans — and everything in between. At the end of the day, he’s a fan like all of us and it’s amazing to hear his perspective on festival culture and the state of dance music.

Rotella talks on early beginnings:

I remember the day when there was no events. It’s beautiful to look around and see there all kinds of events going on. I look at Coachella and Lolla and I see how much the rave scene has impacted those events. Those events would not exist on the level that they exist without the rave scene. There were no festivals before raves, not in America. There had been touring shed events and arenas and stuff like that, but there was not a festival scene.

He explains how festivals really weren’t a thing:

I remember people trying to organize a festival and people would be like, “You mean like Woodstock? We don’t want that around here. There’s no way we’re having that around here.” It just wasn’t a thing, where Europe had festivals. The first spark of mass gatherings where there was a party going on was raves. There were no festivals.

And touches on the current state of dance music and events:

The music right now is the best it’s been in many years. I’m loving it. The events that we’re doing continue to grow and the people that are out there are really, really into it. There was a burst where dance music crossed over and became very trendy. And that’s passed. I thought the dip was gonna be bigger where it wasn’t so trendy and people were looking for something else. I expected, because I had been through this three or four times, where you see the popularity of dance music spike, and I thought there would be a much bigger dip. What’s so strange is it hasn’t gotten smaller for us, it’s gotten bigger. I expected it to get smaller, but it’s gotten bigger. There are less people involved in the industry. It’s strange that it’s gotten less popular commercially but we’re doing better than ever.

Read the full interview here via Forbes.

Photo via Insomniac via youredm

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