Kaskade, Dada Life and Sleepy Tom Spread the Love at Citi Field
Electric Daisy Carnival returns to New York with its first stint at Citi Field (previously held at MetLife Stadium) for the festival’s 5th annual bonanza May 14 & 15. Curated by Insomniac Events, the Las Vegas-bred EDC attracted over 400,000 ravers at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and it welcomed 100,000 electronic dance music fans in 2015 for various subgenres of music including house, dance, drum & bass, techno, dubstep, trance and more.
The Rise of Electronic Dance Music
The phenomenon of electronic dance music (EDM) has reached every corner of the globe and has infiltrated American pop culture from Baauer’s “Harlem Shake” to Kygo’s “Firestone” to PSY’s “Gangnam Style” to cult films like Project X. The genre has as much buzz and a fanbase that rivals America’s biggest rock eras and, just like the rock bands, has artists retiring after a fast-paced lifestyle. Groups like Swedish House Mafia have broken up and artists like Avicii have called it quits recently announcing his retirement.
But the culture remains strong and new acts explode on the scene – electronic music can be heard in automotive commercials, grocery stores, spin classes and virally thanks to what seems like an infinite number of online videos. One could argue electronic music’s pop music tipping point happened in 2011 with “We Found Love” by Calvin Harris featuring Rihanna’s now-iconic vocal. The song is Rihanna’s longest-running Billboard #1 and made Calvin Harris a household name. Furthermore, LCD Soundsystem and Calvin Harris made history as two of three of the top headliners at April’s 2016 edition of Coachella, sharing the marquee with Guns N’ Roses, validation that electronic music is a festival-ready force and a prominent, popular sound of the times.
New York City’s Upcoming EDC Festival
The response to EDM in the United States has been unprecedented – ushering in a new generation of super fans that has not been seen since the early 2000’s pop music craze or even earlier with glam rock in the 80s. International superstars David Guetta, Afrojack, Kaskade, Eric Prydz, Adventure Club, Zedd, Madeon, Chris Lake, Dillon Francis, DJ Snake, Dimitri Vegas, Dash Berlin and more head to Queens this month for EDC New York, one of the global festival’s key locations with New York’s longtime love story with dance music through its many incarnations and subgenres. Chicago-based superstar Kaskade sums up the festival and the energy in New York well: “Anyone who has spent time in NYC knows that the crowds there truly reflect their city. They are urban, cool and sophisticated but they love to get down and dirty.” Kaskade, who has played a number of festivals all over the world has also spun at small clubs in New York and he appreciates the festival atmosphere and the crowds here. “They take this savvy knowledge of music and translate it into any environment. In any city, it’s a win to be playing and look out at the crowd to see phones down and smiles up. I catch that in New York more than any other place.”
Like Las Vegas, the New York event is centered around a giant ferris wheel and other carnival rides, vibrant art installations, fresh food vendors and four different stages on the largest footprint to date for EDC NYC, this year at Citi Field, blending technology, nature and art into an all new experience for fans who come from all over the world. The energy at EDC is not just generated by the superstar and newcomer DJs and producers, the fans really drive the peace, love, unity and respect culture, from “kandi” plastic jewelry to colorful costumes to non-stop dancing, it’s a party like none other that means something different to everyone. “We love to play big festivals, it’s just such an awesome feeling to see a huge crowd of smiling people,” said Olle Cornéer, member of Swedish duo Dada Life. “That’s what it’s all about for us: happiness. I think dance music is popular now because people want to get out and experience stuff instead of just sitting at home listening to music – and a dance music festival like EDC is the ultimate experience.”
Canadian producer/DJ Sleepy Tom has been gaining momentum since last summer’s “Be Right There,” a track he co-produced with Diplo, sampling 1992 Jade smash “Don’t Walk Away.” For a relative newcomer, EDC is an artist-making opportunity, one that fans really connect with and respect. “Getting to play EDC in New York is huge for me,” said Sleepy Tom. “Having the chance to play new material and try to win over new fans is one thing, but in a cultural mecca like NYC it’s especially significant. They’re always at the forefront of music and art, so they’re hopefully much more receptive to music they’ve never heard.”
Attendees of EDC are sure to hear Eric Prydz‘s glistening “Pjanoo,” Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike‘s thrilling “The Hum” and David Guetta‘s “Bang My Head,” all while taking in the sights, like the various carnival performers who energize the crowd from the stage or festival grounds in whimsical wigs and even on stilts. Whether or not all the songs or artists are known, fans gather for the experience of electronic music, the love of the culture, and celebrating life, love and friendship with the colorful backdrop of EDC’s fantasy world. It’s a completely different vibe from a nightclub, with the sound escaping to every corner possible. “Electric Daisy Carnival is like this living, breathing animal,” said Kaskade. “It covers a lot of ground and in the wrong hands, that can be a problem. But EDC has been able to stay at the top of the game by providing top-tier everything to their audience. From the sound to the stage production to the lights, a person could never complain that they under-do it. And at the crux of that is the importance of the experience of the musicians they bring. As an artist, it’s always exciting to me to see how far they’ve pushed it from year to year. It’s indescribable to emerge from the wingspan of a giant robot owl to look at the faces of tens of thousands of music lovers losing their minds at the spectacle.”
An Experience You’ll Never Forget
Dada Life, known for their animated personalities and banana and champagne obsession are no strangers to the festival world or nightclub scene, and Olle [Cornéer] says he and bandmate Stefan Engblom always go with their “gut feeling” when performing. “It’s really different depending on which party we play,” said Cornéer. “It’s one crowd when we play a nice club for example, and a completely different audience when we play a warehouse in Brooklyn. The have one thing in common though: they’re beautiful when they arrive and ugly when we’re done with them!”
For more information on the event’s history, Electric Daisy Carnival’s energy is captured in a tasteful, even emotional documentary, 2014’s “Under The Electric Sky,” a production which was scored by Kaskade and includes a variety of interviews with Insomniac founder Pasquale Rotella, a number of employees, stage performers and dancers, EDM’s usual suspects but most importantly the fans. Beyond the 24/7 insanity of the lively weekend, viewers are brought into the worlds of a couple in a long-distance cross-continental relationship where they are able to celebrate the scene together in Las Vegas, and on the flipside, we are taken into the mind of an attendee who suffers from anxiety, which vanishes at a place like EDC, especially when she gets to join Above & Beyond on the stage.
(Photo by aLive Coverage / Insomiac)