By: Natty Morrison
NM: What was your childhood like? Were you introduced to music at a young age?
FERRY CORSTEN: Yes, my father always had some kind of music on. In fact, my father bought me my own record player when I was nine-years-old because I kept tinkering with his! [laughs]
NM: What was your first encounter with electronic music? What about the music drew you to it?
FERRY CORSTEN: When I was young, I always listened to a famous Dutch radio show called, “The Soulshow.” They played disco and soul music, but I was especially interested in the electronic music they played. The day after, I’d run to the music store and try to buy the records. Most of them were not available yet.
NM: You’ve amassed a series of aliases, and under each of these you’ve released classic cuts. If you don’t mind, would you walk me through a brief history of these pseudonyms, and maybe talk a bit about how they evolved through the years?
FERRY CORSTEN: Back in the day, I made a lot of different styles of music and with several record companies. I had an alias for all of them because I was producing so much that the record label couldn’t release a track under the name so quickly. They needed some time between each release. My most famous ones are Gouryella together with Tiësto – Gouryella is the heaven of the Aboriginals – and System F.
NM: You released your first album under your name in 2003 with Right of Way. What did this “name change” represent? Was it, perhaps, more personal because it had your birth name on it?
FERRY CORSTEN: Yes that was it. I thought it was time to go further under my own name. At that time, I had so many productions under various aliases that at one point I decided to focus on releasing music under my own name: Ferry Corsten.
NM: What separates you from other trance DJs?
FERRY CORSTEN: We all have our different styles of playing, but more important is the way of producing. Besides being a DJ, I am my own music producer. Having said that, as a DJ I’d like to think that my style of DJing takes people into a unique experience as compared to others. I also play my own music as a producer, so that obviously makes a difference in my sets…
NM: Where does trance, as a genre, rank in the pantheon of electronic music today? Is it being overshadowed by new trends or is it still thriving?
FERRY CORSTEN: It is still thriving. It always has been a genre that has survived all throughout the years. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t exist anymore. Having said that, commercial dance music is influenced by trance music! Listen to a lot of possible “electronic” dance music in the popular world; a lot of the elements in them come from trance.
NM: Who are, in your mind, the most important artists in the trance world? In the electronic music world as a whole?
FERRY CORSTEN: Tiësto, Armin van Buuren and I have broken boundaries for a new generation of artist. Right now, you see that EDM is being accepted at radio with artists like Swedish House Mafia, Deadmau5 and David Guetta. They do a great job now with continuing to introduce EDM for the big audiences.
NM: Though electronic music is obviously huge in Europe, it’s never quite garnered the same mainstream acceptance in the U.S. Why do you think this is?
FERRY CORSTEN: It is getting there and it will be! Mark my words. As I said, a lot of commercial dance music is already heavily influenced by dance music. Look at the Black Eyed Peas, Rihanna, and so forth. So, it’s just a matter of time.
NM: You’ve won a number of awards for your work. Which of these had the most significance to you?
FERRY CORSTEN: When I started producing my own music, I won during my first year a prize in the Netherlands called “Grote Prijs van Nederland.” It was my first award that I won and even won money too! I was 16 years old at that time, and realized at that age because of that award that it was possible to have a career in this. If I didn’t realize that then, I wouldn’t have taken that step to enter the music industry full-time.
NM: Your current tour “Once upon a Night 2” is quite massive. What was the concept behind this tour? Is it different from others you’ve embarked on throughout your career?
FERRY CORSTEN: Yes. First of all, if the show is based on a compilation, the show and experience we want to give is different than for an album-based concert. It’s a concept with me leading the way into a night, which feels like a musical journey. That’s the same way I compiled both albums. It’s a story I tell with my music.
NM: You’ve got a daunting tour schedule, jetting from Spain to Finland to South Africa to Japan to China! Are the long trips between gigs hard on you?
FERRY CORSTEN: I know people say that I’m lucky to be doing what I’m doing…and I am… but the long trips can be hard. I love what I do but it is at the end of the day also a job. I’m just lucky that I have a driving force that keeps me going: my fans!
NM: What’s the toughest part of touring?
FERRY CORSTEN: I have a beautiful daughter who’s 2-years-old. Now, she understands that I am on the plane when I am not at home, but I do miss her. Especially when I am away for a couple of weeks.
NM: What is your favorite aspect of the road?
FERRY CORSTEN: Meeting new people and seeing a lot of this world. I was in Abu Dhabi a couple of weeks ago. We got invited to the paddock of the Lotus Formula One team! That’s one of the nice things. [laughs]
NM: Recall, if you can, your very first tour. What can you tell me about it? Was it tough making it on the road as a new artist? How have things changed on tour over the years?
FERRY CORSTEN: My first gig was in Norway in 1999, I believe. It was during the days of my hit [as] System F [with] “Out Of The Blue.” That’s when it all started! From there on, it has been a rollercoaster ride. I’ve been touring since then.
NM: What’s your typical setup when performing? What gear do you use on-stage?
FERRY CORSTEN: I use three Pioneer CDJ-1000s or 2000s and a Pioneer DJM-800 mixer. And of course, my headphones and CDs.
NM: What’s the one piece of gear you couldn’t live without?
FERRY CORSTEN: It would be my Blackberry and my Mac Book Pro. I can synchronize my laptop with my studio at the office. So I can produce music on the road, now. It’s also good to know what’s going on at the office!
NM: What’s your process for performing? Do you approach it with an air of improvisation or do you have a set list prepared?
FERRY CORSTEN: It all depends on the crowd. I actually spend a lot of time preparing for each gig. I always think of what fans from each city and country would like, and what would work with the music I have. I do have the ‘Corsten’s Classics’ I play, but all other music is not in a typical set list. I want to give the audience a great night and tell a story with my music.
NM: You’ve only got two U.S. dates listed on your schedule. What’s the reasoning for the limited U.S. dates?
FERRY CORSTEN: I’ve been touring the U.S. in March and did a four-week tour in October, so if you missed me then, you can come see me in Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego for an epic New Year’s Eve, and the day after, I’ll be playing at Club Glow in Washington DC.
Check out this great track from Ferry Corsten:
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