An interview with Ferry Corsten... by Fiona Walsh
Ferry Corsten, also known under the alias System F, is a Dutch producer of trance music, in addition to being a DJ and remixer. He also hosts his own weekly radio show, Corsten's Countdown. He routinely plays at events all over the world with crowds in excess of tens of thousands. Our NYC reporter, Fiona Walsh, talked to Ferry about his upcoming new album. If you're a fan, check it out!
CGI: Hi Ferry! Thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to talk to CGI. Congratulations on the album! Can you tell us a little bit about how you put ‘Once Upon a Night’ together?
FC: Well initially I wanted to come up a compilation album that was a little bit more challenging than usual. Usually you just go for the biggest tracks out there and you put a few unreleased or a few new tracks but I really wanted to go for a compilation that is almost like a new artist record – like a Ferry and Friends sort of feel to it.
CGI: Yes there are definitely a lot of new artists that I have not heard before on it. How did you find them?
FC: We reached out to some of the artists on my label and also the Blackhole artists to submit tracks and kept an eye out for tracks/demos that come our way. We’ve definitely been through around 100 tracks to end up just using 25. The focal point was unreleased tracks and never heard before heard tunes and to line them up in a way that they really flow well.
CGI: Well it worked! From listening to the album you can sense the build, the dips and rises and hear those transitions occur. Like you said sundown, night and sunrise!
FC: I hope so. I suppose I consider myself a trance DJ for whatever that means but nowadays trance music is just not anymore the banging stuff and the hands in the air stuff – it really goes from a house-y sound almost, to a bit more of the banging tracks which gives you a lot of freedom as a DJ. You can almost do your own pre party and warm up set and closing set as well. That’s what I’ve been trying to do here.
CGI: On that theme then, there’s a lot of crossover now between genres. The genres are blending a lot more and even hip hop artists are going to electronic music producers to remix their tracks. Are you planning to work with anyone we might know that’s more ‘commercial’ or ‘pop’?
FC: Yeah definitely I have done that in the previous artist’s records with Duran Duran or Marc Almond. Some of the 80s stuff. I’m actually going to be working and am presently getting ideas together for the next artist album due for release in the first half of next year. Definitely going to be looking for collaborations with more cross over artists for that album.
CGI: I caught your show at Nokia Theater in Times Square Feb 12 with John Dahlback That was the first time to play that venue. How did you find it?
FC: Yeah I loved it! It’s a new concept of Made Events and their kick off show for a series of shows that they’re doing there. I’ve always played other venues in NYC and they told me that they were using this venue since it was rebuilt for a couple of million dollars. It was amazing because I really love venues that have a theater feel to them. Acoustics are great. From where I was in the DJ booth you can see the dance floor right in front of you sloping back further into room! You get that real concert feel to the event. And that’s what I really liked about it.
CGI: What do think about the trance music scene in Europe versus USA? It seems like trance as a genre is a ‘bigger deal’ in Europe. And speaking from someone who’s come from Ireland – there seems to be a bigger following and more trance DJs coming out of Europe as opposed to the US.
FC: Well maybe there is a little more of a wider audience in Europe. Maybe it has something to do with the radio support that trance at some point received especially in the UK on Radio 1. It was Top 40, Top 20, and Top 10 even. And that particular sound just evolved in Europe. In my opinion, American dance music has always had a lower rate of bpm, a lower tempo. That’s why there is such a strong mix right now where the slower tempo is kicking in with the melodic top line. If I see the amount of people that are visiting trance forums that I also sometimes look at, I do see a lot of Americans as well.
CGI: Interesting. I’m part of a group here in NYC called Trance Mansion and we find it’s harder to find a community of trance lovers within the city. But we’re getting there!
FC: Absolutely! And Electric Zoo in NYC last year – that had a fabulous trance element. That was perfect.
CGI: And great that it’s back this year too! So how long do you take to produce a track in general?
FC: Since my music is always based around melody it starts with the same thing. It’s looking for the hook line or melody, either to leave it as an instrumental or to write vocals. It’s the hook line that’s very important. It starts there but sometimes you just come up with a track that once you find the melody the track is done already. A good example is one of my old classics called Punk that was just a melody that I found and within 5 hours after that I had the whole track done. Sometimes the track just writes itself and other times you’re just working on something for a week, week and half. Depends whether it’s a track you want to write vocals to or looking for a vocalist and on how complicated you want to make it.
CGI: You’ve played in Ireland. How do you find the Irish crowds?
FC: Irish crowds are one of my favorite crowds in Europe! They just go mental, they lose it and they go crazy and they have their little chants! Woop woop! Fantastic!
CGI: I see you’re playing with Simon Patterson in Miami – looking forward to Miami this year?
FC: Absolutely yes. I’m doing Nikki Beach on Friday 26th! Great fun – never done a beach party n Miami – I’ve always done the indoor clubs at night. This is a late afternoon early evening party on the beach. And then doing the “Once Upon a Night” experience later.
CGI: Tell us about the “Once Upon a Night” experience? It sounds very cool!
FC: It’s a production show. I really focus my set on all the “Once Upon a Night” tracks plus Ferry Corsten classics and tracks from the last album. More like a concert style thing. A back drop that basically comes to life and if you look at the sleeve of the compilation you will see a bridge and that bridge is the landmark of Rotterdam, my home town. And it’s also the focal point of the show. The whole backdrop comes to life with the bridge changing and going crazy and buildings moving to the music and imaginary landscapes and interactive texts and lyrics. All in sync with the music. It’s going to be a real trip basically. A visualization of “Once Upon a Night” album.
CGI: Are you planning to go back to Europe and Irish gigs coming up?
FC: We are working on a couple of dates in Ireland nothing confirmed yet! Stay tuned!
CGI: Finally what song are you listening to you on your iPod right now?
FC: I was able to get my hands on the whole Café Del Mar series. That’s in there right now!! I’m already getting ready for Ibiza!
For more information go to http;//www.ferrycorsten.com