A microbus full of clowns rolls slowly through a crowd of ecstatic revelers. A flatland BMX rider nails a trick. A bald dude on pogo stilts does a backflip. A man in a suit of mirror shards shines from onstage. A hottie in a gas mask with rabbit ears wields flaming fans—you’ve seen them online in trailers. Maybe you’ve even interacted with them in the flesh at the festival. Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas employs more than 500 of these roving and stage performers: Clowns, aerialists, stilters, acrobats, dancers, contortionists, roller girls, puppeteers, mascots, Cyr wheelists, drummers, tumblers and more transform Las Vegas Motor Speedway into one of the world’s largest immersive performance environments. And who wrangles them? Meet Insomniac creative director Bunny and his entertainment director sidekick, Jila.
Bunny, before Insomniac CEO Pasquale Rotella gave you control over the event’s performance-artist talent in 2008, you played the first EDC in 1997 with your multimedia electronic-dance-music band Rabbit in the Moon. What was it like?
Bunny: Pasquale wanted to do it in the round [with the stage in the center of the audience]; I had to split attention between two opposite sides. But to play in L.A. in 1997 was special. EDM didn’t get going in America until ’93 or ’94. So it’d gotten momentum and was bubbling with excitement.
How did you meet Rotella?
Bunny: Our first L.A. show was in 1995, I think. It was a party Pasquale worked on called Big Wig Thumper. He wanted to book us. To be part of the first Electric Daisy Carnival and see how far it’s come—insane.
When did you realize Rotella was someone you wanted to work with?
Bunny: Pasquale booked us for Nocturnal Wonderland 1999. He lost his venue, but went door to door on an Indian reservation to find people willing to rent land. There was infighting on the reservation. Indians arrived with guns and scared kids away. They fired in the air, scattering everyone. Cops arrived and arrested the gunmen. By any means necessary, the party continued. I realized Pasquale was different in that moment. I have the utmost respect.
How often did your band Rabbit in the Moon play Electric Daisy Carnival in those days?
Bunny: Nocturnal Wonderland was bigger then; we played that more often. Electric Daisy Carnival didn’t take off until 2006 or 2007. When EDC moved to the L.A. Coliseum, it went crazy. The vibe was incendiary.
Jila, you joined Rabbit in the Moon as a fire artist after leaving Zumanity. How did you two characters meet?
Jila: Two friends were painting themselves Shiva-blue for a show. They invited me [to join]. “I’m not a blue girl. I’ll do Kali in red,” I said. I had this gold Thai headdress and made pasties with matching spikes. Painted myself red, doused myself in gold glitter and performed. Bunny said later, “You’re the female version of me. That show we did? We do [Rabbit in the Moon] around the world.” “Congratulations,” I said. “Wanna go with us?” he asked. I said, “Hmmm … Let me check my schedule.”
When did Rotella ask for help with costuming and performance?
Bunny: In 2007, we played Vegas, and Pasquale was there. We went to Love. He was inspired: “Bunny, what would it take to do this?” he asked. “Give me a shot,” I said. “I’ll try to do better.”
What does your position entail, Bunny?
Bunny: Performance ideas and costume design. I also work in the media department, directing and editing trailers. I massage emotions, make people feel something and represent the brand. Nothing compares to going [to an Insomniac event], but we simulate it.
How integral are the event trailers to the success of Insomniac’s events?
Bunny: Online presence is huge. We tell stories. DJs are important, but we emphasize the whole experience. Not everybody’s in Vegas to experience these shows; [for some] trailers are the closest they’ll get.
Is there a method to character conception and costume creation madness?
Jila: I used to grab Bunny and a couple of artists, and we’d brainstorm cockamamy things. Bunny’s interesting: He’d often suggest something, and I’d say, “Totally.” Others’ faces would say, “What is he talking about? Does he really think he can do that?” It’s fun to show ourselves—and everyone—that outlandish things are possible.
Bunny: Our track record’s good. The only failure I recall was a giant disco-ball mascot costume. It weighed so much that a bodybuilder couldn’t carry it more than 100 yards. We’d expended weeks on it—it was sad. That’s the only failure I remember in six years. That’s batting [almost] 1.000.
How did EDC’s migration to Las Vegas change things for you?
Jila: I felt slightly overwhelmed. I didn’t know if I could meet demand. “How many would travel to be involved?” [I wondered]. Vegas performers work other shows. It wasn’t this major effort to find talent. It’s cool to see them all in a big room, because they’re performing for each other the whole time.
What distinguishes Insomniac from other event production companies?
Bunny: You’re watching a stage. A stilted clown grabs your hat and high-fives you. It breaks the fourth wall. You’re no longer a spectator.
What’s the future hold?
Jila: It’s magical to be part of something so beautiful. I didn’t ever have a five-year plan before. It’s an honor to be welcomed back [to the Insomniac team], to be involved as it’s evolved into madness.
Bunny: We’re already one of the biggest American festivals, definitely the biggest American dance fest. I think we’re approaching world’s largest. I don’t think we’re close to [achieving] what’s possible. I don’t see a ceiling.