Hailing from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Ferry Corsten’s lustrous career is exemplified by a passion for music
that began as a hobby and spiralled into a full-blown profession. Today, as it was in the beginning, Corsten’s skills lie in his ability to coax the maximum emotional impact from electronic dance music of all genres, not just trance, but also progressive-house and electro. He remains and has always been ahead-of-his time, making music that becomes a template for others to follow.
It was the album, Out Of The Blue, that started it all. As Corsten’s sophomoric artist album under the alias, System F, the eponymous single became a worldwide hit and charted in the UK’s Top 20 UK singles charts and Japan’s
Top 10 singles charts for three consecutive years after its release. Corsten’s rapid success ignited a steady flow of releases including ‘Gouryella’ with Tiësto. It was during this time that Corsten’s remix of William Orbit’s ‘Barber’s Adagio For Strings’ became a clubland anthem. Though the instantly recognisable original appeared in the
film, Platoon (directed by Oliver Stone), it was Corsten’s heady remix that took the original composition’s
strongest elements and amplified them into a singular, explosive masterpiece. Offers for remix work have poured in furiously ever since, including remixes for Moby, Faithless, The Killers, William Orbit, Duran Duran, and Public Enemy
Corsten has also consistently appeared near the top of international DJ polls and has won his share of industry awards. Over the years, Ferry Corsten has released a steady flow of new music. He has seven full-length studio albums under his belt, namely: Looking Forward as Ferry; Out Of The Blue and Together as System F; and Right Of Way, L.E.F., Twice In A Blue Moon and WKND as Ferry Corsten. These seven killer albums have yielded more than their share of Gold records, including ‘Punk,’ ‘Out Of The Blue,’ ‘Rock Your Body Rock,’ and other world-class hits including ‘Made Of Love’ featuring Betsie Larkin and ‘Radio Crash.’
More recently, the release of his three acclaimed ‘Hello World’ EPs solidified him as an ever relevant presence in trance music, demonstrating his constantly changing and mutating sound and his consistent ability to stay ahead of the curve. ‘Hearts Beating Faster’ ft. Ethan Thompson became one of most revered tracks from the EP, charting high in radio playlists worldwide, finding extended support across the scene’s biggest named spinners and to date
receiving in excess of 3 million streams on Spotify. 2016 saw Ferry nominated for an International Dance Music Awards (IDMA)
Now the iconic Rotterdam native strides towards his 5th artist album as Ferry Corsten – Blueprint. Released May 2017, this interstellar story line-driven epic is something unlike any Ferry Corsten record before it. A conceptual masterpiece the album sees Ferry taking his music into an entirely new world combining his love of storytelling, his passion for science fiction and his lifelong bond with music.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Ferry ahead of his show at SW4 Festival this August.
Hi Ferry, thank you for taking time out today for speaking with us, how have you been?
I’ve been doing great! Hope you are too!
If you don’t mind, I’d like to take our readers back to some of your early years. For those that do not know, you began DJing at 15 years old in your home town of Rotterdam, can you tell us a little about those days? You even studied to become an Electrical Engineer.
Actually no.. I started producing music at 15 years old. I started DJing professionally at around 25. During those days, it was producing music that got me into the music scene. I was studying at the same time but at one point was producing enough music to be able to make a career out of it. It was from the success of my productions that I became a DJ.
You were quite young, around 21, when you won the De Grote Prijs van Nederland award (an award that recognises young and emerging Dutch talent) This must have been a great honour, how did it feel to be so young and thrown into the spotlight?
I was part of a group called Hole in 1, when we won that award. It was an amazing feeling. It was another confirmation for me to keep on doing what I was enjoying and helped me in making a decision to pursue this career.
You have gone under many alias’s during your career, including Moonman, System F, Gouryella, Pulp Victim and many more, can you tell us the reason behind this?
I started off purely as a music producer and not as a DJ, so most of my time was spent in the studio. I was producing so much during that period and also producing many different types of music that I decided to use various aliases in order to get as many releases with as many labels as possible.
A lot of people will remember you for your classic tracks in the late 90’s “Out of The Blue” and your collaboration with Tiesto for “Gouryella”, just like other forms of electronic music has changed a lot since then, but how do you see changes in the sound, to the trance of the 90’s to what it is now? Will we hear a return back to the sounds of yesteryear, or will it evolve once again?
I believe that everything comes around in circles. Like what techno and house are doing now, trance is also ‘borrowing’ it’s sound from the late 90’s early 2000’s. It used to be all about the long and massive melodies and then it changed into a more snappy sort of sound where it was more about the gritty bass lines instead of the melodies.
Personally, I’m am all about the sounds from yesteryear but produced with today’s technology. This will automatically give it it’s modern character but with the same sentiment as it’s predecessor.
You have remixed some amazing producers during your career, including Faithless, Moby, William Orbit, U2 and so forth, which producer has been the most exciting, even dynamic to work with?
I guess personally, meeting and hanging out with William Orbit was really unique. All the other artists you mentioned are amazing as well but this was a personal favourite of mine.
I’d like to move away from the past and talk about touring. You have been in the game for a considerable time now, the stresses of constant travelling, late nights and lack of sleep must take its toll, is there a ritual you adhere to nowadays, was it born out of experience or just a natural progression?
With regard to DJing, I was pretty much thrown in the deep. I started off with not having any shows at all to pretty much having shows every weekend and It’s been a pretty regular schedule for me for the last 15-18 years? I definitely have learned to “roll with the punches” with regards to touring.
Sleep is crucial. Late nights happen after a show every once in a while, but I do my best to take care of myself. Eat right, drink lots of water. Travelling at the pace you do as a DJ is a lot more difficult than what it seems. I like to have some quiet time before the madness and therefore try to have a nice dinner and a glass of wine before a show.
I am sure you hear the old vinyl vs digital debate often, to the emerging DJs out there, what advice would you give to anyone starting out and not sure what format to play on?
I guess digital is the current trend of the future but it’s interesting to see how vinyl is slowly becoming popular again. I personally love vinyl. There’s nothing like hearing the warmth that comes of a vinyl record. But let’s be honest, who wants to carry those heavy record bags around when you can have all your music on your USB stick? ;-)
The music industry at times can be quite brutal and some artists can doubt themselves at times. Is there any tips or advice you would like to share that has kept yourself motivated?
I think it is “Believe in yourself. Find your own path.” There will always be someone that will be critical of your work (as you will always be as well) but just make sure with every production you release, every work you do, you stand 100% behind it and really be proud of what you have made.
Criticism is OK as long as it is based on real facts. Too often you find people out there that believe they know the reasons of why you did certain things better than yourself. Don’t get caught up in this negativity.
Although it has never left, Progressive House is making a sharp return to the scene once again, where do you see it at the moment?
It’s definitely been on the rise, although having said that it has always been around. It’s great to see how each style of music always has a chance to shine. Even after it feels like it had disappeared.
Musically, who would you say has been a driving source of inspiration?
Oh that’s a good question. There hasn’t been ‘anyone’ that inspires me. It’s rather certain moments, events, sounds, even experiences. So many things in my life have literally brought “music” in to mind. But if I had to name someone, I would have to say some of the Icelandic composers like Johann Johannsson, Nils Frahm, Olafur Arnalds. Their music was on loop mode while I was producing Blueprint
Your new artist album ‘Blueprint’ is a concept album. Can you give us a little summary of what the album is about and how you came about to putting out such a detailed, bold new long player release together?
Blueprint is a hybrid between a music album and an audio book. In other words, a fully narrative story that carries the listener throughout the entire album creating a full listening experience. Almost like a movie without the motion picture. The difference between this album and my previous work. My previous work was just “music albums” where there was no central theme. The music in my previous albums were made to flow together but not as cohesive as blueprint due to the story.
You are returning to London to play at South West Four Festival on Clapham Common, one of our favourite parties on the summer circuit, this is not your first time main stage at SW4,?
I’ve always loved travelling to the UK for the festivals. I played my first big events in the UK when I started DJing, so it will always have a special place in my heart. Have played SW4 quite a number of times before and the fact that it in the heart of London makes it a very cool festival. Can’t wait to be back.
Any hints of what to expect in your set?
I definitely will be be playing quite a few tracks from my latest album “Blueprint.” Hope you come down and watch!
For the festival virgins, what advice can you give?
Check the weather! Wellies may be required! And bring your best and most positive attitude.
Thank you very much for taking time out of your busy schedule, it is very appreciated, lastly, what can we look forward to hearing from you in the next 12 months?
I’m currently working on a few things, like the Gouryella 2.0 show, remixes of the blueprint album as well as another project! More info to come! Thanks for the interview.