EDC Las Vegas 2015 | Photo by Jesse J Sutherland

Insomniac Music Director Carlos Correal Talks 20 Years of EDC

Photo by Bennett Sell-Kline

Photo by Bennett Sell-Kline

Carlos Correal, 42, is like a kid in a candy store. But instead of filling his goodie bag with black licorice bits and fluorescent gummy worms, he’s handpicking some of the most heralded acts in the music world for what he calls “the largest rave on the planet.” And this is no candy store—this is Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas. The music director for Insomniac has had the privilege of helping to book more than 250 electronic music acts on the bill for EDC’s 20th anniversary festival—from top-tier to underground, house to trap and everything in between.

“We try to make our lineups somewhat predictable,” Correal says. “We tried to stay in tune with all upcoming music. Of course, there are some of the usual suspects—guys who have been there for the last five years [EDC] has been in Las Vegas—but there will be so much more.”

Take a glance at the lineup and you’ll see that Correal is true to his word. Huge names such as French producer DJ Snake, electro house great Afrojack and hip-hop/house veteran Loco Dice all fit nicely on the bill, as they’ve done in years past, but there are also some up-and-coming producers—Hotel Garuda and Giraffage, to name a couple—who made the list. Insomniac has also booked members of Southern California’s long-running Moontribe Collective to diversify the bill. Correal says the decision to book acts big and small was entirely calculated because his aim was to provide a snapshot of the current scene, as well as creating a timeless lineup that celebrates the landmark. “[The anniversary is] a big deal for the community and the industry; a historical moment, so we have to make it amazing.”

One way Correal will keep it amazing is by implementing daily surprises. “We will have a very special guest performing on each given day on the main stage, kineticFIELD,” he says. “People will be talking about these performances for years to come. I know one personally, and I can’t wait until that day.” Correal wants to keep these under wraps until the minute they happen on festival grounds, but he insists that they’ll be “legendary.”

Despite knowing the entire planned lineup, Correal says some performances will surprise even him. That was the case at last year’s festival when trance heavyweights Above & Beyond invited actor Bryan Cranston (Walter White in Breaking Bad) to be the one to “push the button,” that is, to drop the beat after a protracted buildup. “I had no idea that was happening … It came as a surprise,” Correal says.

While booking for EDC is a massive undertaking, Correal also spearheads Factory 93, Insomniac’s new underground warehouse party series that spotlights up-and-coming house and techno acts from across the world. “It’s my new baby,” Correal says. “It’s [Insomniac’s] answer to the underground community, and it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for the five years I’ve been with the company; I just didn’t have the bandwidth to do it.”

The first Factory 93 event took place May 21 in Downtown Los Angeles with house legend Doc Martin, Hot Since 82, Sante and Sidney Charles. It was a true return to form. Photos from the event are reminiscent of dance music’s early days, i.e. Paradise Garage and Studio 54. Correal is pleased with the turnout. “It was a masterwork, one of those events where everything goes perfectly,” he says. “There were club kids, new ravers, old ravers … all creatures of the night celebrated in this happy environment. I eat, sleep and breathe this shit, and seeing it all unfold was a treat.”

Correal also argues that it strengthens Insomniac by showing a different side of the brand. “People think of Insomniac to be sort of this ‘Walmart’ company, and tend to forget that we started in ’93. The average EDC Las Vegas attendee is 28 years old. We’ve never waned from the underground.” And Correal says Insomniac’s plans include bringing Factory 93 to Las Vegas. It will begin by associating EDC’s neonGARDEN stage with the project. “We want it to be something like ‘neonGARDEN presented by Factory 93,’” he says.

But Correal wants to keep the door open for experimentation. “Factory 93 is more than just booking an underground DJ. It’s an experience, and we want to make that clear when it comes to our own DJs, lights, stage design … everything.”

One thing is certain, however: Correal wants to make EDC’s 20th year “Under the Electric Sky” one to remember, and he let us in on a few surprises he’s anxious to see himself. “I’m excited to see the redesign of kineticFIELD,” he says. “Oh, and we’re bringing in the biggest disco ball I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s ginormous.”