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.
What got you to in to DJing?
To become a DJ was never really my intention. It was more a hobby next to my productions. But when I released “out of the blue”, Ministry Of Sound asked me to do “Trance Nation” from which the first edition sold about 400,000 copies! So suddenly 400,000 people had a cd with my name on it and so the requests for me as a DJ came in. And I was lucky that the first clubs I played in were clubs like Cream, Passion and Slinky!
Who has inspired you?
I don’t really know. I’ve always been a great fan of eighties music, but I’ve never had a real idol. It’s just the music itself that really inspired me, I think.
You were the pioneer of the LEF (‘Loud, Electronic and Ferocious’) sound. How do you feel about producers imitating it?
I never really looked at it that way. I look at dance music as one collective style of music where, when one person comes up with a new idea, everyone sort of borrows it and does his or her own thing with it.
So, when I first brought that electro sound into trance, I never really thought that people would copy it. It was just something that I felt I needed for my own sound. It’s great that people are inspired by it.
You are one of the most successful trance DJs of all time yet you are one of the most diverse, combining even house, electro and other genres into your sets. How have you managed to stay fresh and be on top of the game for so long?
I think is just a matter of really looking around of what’s happening. If you just stay within the genre that you are really known for and you just stay within that, and just look in that little circle, then it’s really hard to refresh, you need to have the influence from outside of the bubble. So that’s why I really look around in every other genre to see what’s there, not just to imitate but just to get ideas. What is it that make that particular sound so successful or what’s that element that makes that sound so recognizable and maybe I can take certain elements the way they program the drums or the baseline or something and that genre as well and put that together with my own way of working within trance. Just by having those other influences you create something new and fresh and that’s how my sound it’s always evolving.
What do you think about the trance scene at the moment? And in the future?
I don’t know … It’s a bit hard to see or to talk about trance right now. I feel that is definitively a pure side of it that is definitively trance, the more popular trance, commercial trance in a way. It’s really hard to call that still trance, it’s almost EDM. There are no real emotional melodies anymore, it’s all banging and…it’s almost like the only thing missing is “put your fucking hands up”. The trance of today, like trance 2.0 as I call it, I’m not a big fan of …
You like more of the classic…
Yeah, real trance. Also the 140 bpm banging trance … just because it’s 140 bmp it’s trance now? I think a lot of people are missing the point right now about what trance is. That’s really all about emotions. It could be 140 bpm and you can still have a beautiful trance melody. That’s a bit of what it’s missing right now. Seeing some of the developments last year, with Anahera, that basically was one of my own, how can I say … like longing for that particular sound again and bring it back to see the response. You really see that a lot of people really want that particular sound again, at least the emotional part of it. Hopefully it’s gonna be something that will bring that back for the next year.
If you have to choose 2 artists (from all times) which are the ones you would like to have the occasion to befriend or collaborate with?
I definitively think Bono would be one of them. First of all I love the music of U2, his voice it’s amazing, but his whole thought process of everything is something that I can really appreciate … Hmmm, who else? Yeah, maybe Mozart, someone like that. That’s music in the true sense of the word. That would be amazing to at least have a good conversation with him.
Your fans have asked for the return of Gouryella for over a decade. What exactly were the reasons for its revival to finally take place in 2015?
First of all, Gouryella was in many ways a product of the era in which it was first created. I did the first three releases with Tiësto, and after doing the fourth release on my own, I decided that it was time to call it a day [with Gouryella]. The sound had moved on a bit, and my personal interests were with a more electro-based sound, as I was stepping away from pure trance. I was producing songs like “Rock Your Body Rock” (2003) and other tracks.
However, the name Gouryella was still lingering with true trance fans. The demand finally got so high that the name Gouryella was in a league of its own, kind of a “holy grail.” If I were to do anything [under the name] Gouryella, to live up to that expectation would be difficult. My head wasn’t in the right space to make a [Gouryella] track. I wasn’t thinking in those types of melodies and structures. I just didn’t want to call the next trance track I made a Gouryella track. It had to be a track that was in the line of the previous Gouryella releases. I just couldn’t find [that level] of track. These days, my head is definitely more into that sound. I’m getting tired of what’s going on in the scene, honestly. There’s a personal need to go back to the [Gouryella] sound.
Do you think you could get Tiesto back with you?
No, he gone in a different direction. We´ve never spoke about it, but he wanted to move on and concentrate on his own sound.
So will you still be Ferry Corsten or will you attempt to DJ as Gouryella in the future?
Gouryella is a side project, it’s not like I see it as an actual DJing persona. The more I touch it, the more fragile it becomes. I don’t want to wear out the name Gouryella. It’s never what I wanted really, it’s just this release. Ferry Corsten that’s who I am. This is just a very special side project.
What motivates and artist to release under a different alias instead of the name they’re famous for?
You can hide yourself. When I was still Gouryella, everyone accepted that I will produce all of my trance in its purest form. If I had a house alias I could make house in its purest form and no one would judge me and say, ‘oh you can’t make house, you’re a trance DJ.’ Yes I can, you just don’t know me that’s why you don’t think I can do it. I get bored in the studio easily; I always want to do something else. I want to trigger myself and get that creative kick. Sometimes the sounds vary. With an alias you can hide yourself without being judged and it’s great. I love it.
But after a while I was like, ‘why am I doing this they’re all coming from the same person anyway.’ So in 2002 I released ‘Punk’ under my own name, and I’ve only used Ferry ever since. I would release tracks with different styles and some people would understand it, but say things like, ‘Oh you do it for the money.’ But why would I do that if my core audience is trance? Why would I try and go to an audience that I don’t have? I just want to do it for me.