Words and Photos by Taylin Simmonds
Electric Daisy Carnival (or EDC) is an annual electronic dance music festival, with its flagship event held annually in Las Vegas, Nevada. Last year Centre for Arts & Technology sent Lead Electronic Music Production Instructor Taylin Simmonds down to cover the festival and bring his insights back to students. Taylin tells us all about the importance of ‘Branding’ and ‘Emotional Impact’ in the performance arena. This is what he had to say.
“On the weekend of May 18th, I had the pleasure of going to Las Vegas for Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC). To no surprise, this ended up being one of the most insightful experiences of my entire music career.
Going to EDC, I had a couple of goals in mind.
One of my main goals was that I wanted to gain insight into how large-scale performances are put together and executed; people often think that it’s all about the music, but very few understand that it’s so much more than that. These artists focus on creating an ‘experience’, encompassing everything from music, to visuals, to the excitement, to messaging.
During my time at EDC, I had the honor of seeing over thirty amazing acts, and nearly all of them were able to deliver an energetic performance that kept people dancing throughout the entire experience. While I had a lot of fun during these sets, very few stuck out as being memorable. Why is that? How can an act completely rock a dance floor and still be forgotten at the end of the weekend? The answer is simple: they didn’t create an experience!
The artists who created an emotional impact through their performance are the ones I remember; these artists had a message and a strong sense of brand. This sense of brand was conveyed through their music, accompanying visuals, their interactions with the crowd and some of the subtle things they did that other artists didn’t.
One of the many stand out acts for me was Rezz. Rezz’s brand focuses on hypnosis and hypnotizing the audience throughout the performance. The music was dark and eerie throughout the entire performance which made the performance feel very cohesive. The visuals looked like they were designed by an actual hypnotist as they interacted with the music and entranced the audience. During the slower points of the performance, Rezz would play a vocal that conveyed what her brand was about. I remember a specific part of the performance where a vocal started explaining what a ‘Rezz’ is, while the visuals displayed her logo. This helped to connect elements of the performance and convey a sense of brand identity.
Another stand out act was KSHMR. KSHMR produces big room house music, which happens to be one of the most over-saturated genres in dance music. I must have seen over a dozen big room house acts over the weekend but KSHMR is the only one that I actually remember. That is because KSHMR included things that other artists didn’t do.
Every three or four songs, KSHMR would play an orchestral song, with a narrator that guided the audience through a fictional story. This story played out over the entire performance and concluded just before the final song of KSHMR’s performance. These fictional moments had accompanying visuals that entranced the audience and added depth to the story. KSHMR was the only act at EDC that included a story in his performance, making him a memorable act that stood out above the rest.
In conclusion, the only memorable acts at EDC were the ones with a strong sense of brand. This brand must be cohesive during the entire performance and throughout every element of the performance. It may require more work and more planning than the average act, but this work pays off in the long run by making you stand out above all the other professionals in the industry.”