Learn more about EDM Identity Correspondent and Ground Control veteran Erik Larson as he highlights his favorite festival moments and more!
Name: Erik Larson
Rave Name: None
Hometown: San Diego, CA
Current City: San Diego, CA
Occupation: Software Engineer
Facebook: Erik Larson
What was your first electronic music event?
Nocturnal Wonderland 2016! I had no idea what to expect; I had just spent the past four years at a school in the middle of Ohio, surrounded by friends who had no interest in raving. But once I got out in summer 2015, I wanted more than anything to go to a festival and experience that for myself. So when the day finally rolled around, I drove up to San Bernadino two hours early, made some friends waiting for the doors to open, and headed in, completely blind.
It took a few hours for the night to truly kick off, but once it did, I was shook. I danced harder than I’d ever danced in my life, until then and since. I danced until my arms hurt and my legs were cramping and my entire body was exhausted. I raged at the main stage for hours before taking a breather and stumbling into a tent where I heard hardstyle for the first time and fell in love; I wandered around the venue checking out the different art installations, then headed to the Upside-Down House to finish the night out with my #1 most-anticipated set, ATTLAS. By the end, I saw so much I’d never seen before, heard so many new sounds, felt so many new emotions, that I knew I had to do this again, as soon as possible.
What/who influenced you to attend your first event?
My friend Kyle! He was one of my first friends who shared an interest in EDM, and he encouraged me to check out Nocturnal. Before getting to know him, I literally had no idea EDM festivals existed. So, thanks, Kyle!
What is one moment from an event that was special and why?
EDC Las Vegas 2018 was full of amazing moments, but there was one that stuck out to me looking back. I was working the show as a Ground Controller and was on my break when I decided to catch Hot Since 82’s set in the Neon Garden. I came off my shift stressed and anxious; my chronic illness had flared up a few hours before, and I didn’t know if I had the strength to finish off my 14-hour shift.
I grabbed my pixel whip and headed over to the Neon Garden, knowing that house and techno would help take my mind off things. I danced aimlessly for a bit, too anxious to get into the music and enjoy EDC. Then the fireworks started going off in the sky above, and the tracks slid into a beautiful, seamless groove, and I let myself go and became completely entranced, dancing and whipping and letting everything else evaporate from my mind.
When it was time to go back to work, I felt healed, ready to tackle the night with rejuvenated energy and a clear head. It was then that I truly realized that dance music can transcend the moment and become something more: a force for personal growth and healing.
What is your favorite festival or event?
EDC is pretty unbeatable, in terms of scope and music, but honestly, I had a great time and amazing vibes at Wasteland this year. It was my first year attending, and my first time really branching out into a specialty festival, so I was a little apprehensive. But the hard dance community is incredibly nice and welcoming and I had a great time getting in touch with a style of music I don’t always listen to on the regular. That being said, expect to see me at the Wasteland all three days at EDC 2019…
What is your favorite electronic song and why?
“Bigger Than Love (Radio Edit)” by Ilan Bluestone. Every single element of this song is sublime. The perfect intro, showing you what’s to come but not giving it all away. The vocals, not too overblown and not too subtle, complementing the dancing synths and the rising build. And then — the drop. I’ve been listening to this song for two years straight and still that drop gets me every time. It’s intense, emotional, uplifting, and head bobbing all at the same time. I could listen to forever and not get tired of it. Then there’s the outro, blending every previous element of the song together for a rousing sendoff, ending everything on an unmistakably high note. I just love it.
Who are your favorite artists?
They change a lot, since I try to listen to as much music as possible, but, with no particular rhyme or reason: Tchami, ANNA, Croatia Squad, Eric Prydz, Shiba San, Junkie Kid, TnT (Technoboy and Tuneboy), Tiesto, Cazztek, Alison Wonderland, Joyryde, Firebeatz, Kuuro, Chris Lake, Herobust, Ilan Bluestone, Above & Beyond, LO’99, Noizu, Yotto, Billy Kenny, Nora En Pure, ARTY, BlackGummy, Deadmau5, and ATTLAS.
What are your favorite genres?
House and techno are my mains, and any combination of the two I’m down for. In fact, nearly any genre you can attach “House” to the end of is my jam. Bass house, progressive house, deep house, tech house, etc. I’m a sucker for 128 BPM. Anything below that is too slow!
Sadly, I’m not super into bass or dubstep. I can’t really headbang for medical reasons and I can’t dance to songs that slow, so I try to avoid those sets at festivals. But give me anything on the high end, 140 to 150, and I’m 100% there. Hardcore and hardstyle are definitely favs, as is psy-trance.
What do you feel your “Identity” is in the electronic music community?
I work a lot with Ground Control, the harm reduction team that Insomniac Events has at all their festivals, and that has helped me carve out an identity for myself as someone who’s eager to lead the group and make sure that everyone is having the best time possible. I guess that constitutes being a “rave dad,” but it’s more than that. I feel passionate about changing the public perception around raves and dance music, emphasizing the transformative and healing aspects of this culture that you don’t see in news stories.
Is there anything else you would like to add about yourself for the readers?
I suffer from a pretty severe case of PCS, or Post-Concussion Syndrome, which can make it hard to rave or work at festivals. For those of you out there who also have chronic illnesses, I can’t state enough how important it is to get out there and continue doing what you love, to the best of your ability! Every festival I go to I’m worried I might hurt myself, but nine times out of ten I’ll come out the other side stronger than ever before.
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