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. From the outset, Corsten has been a prolific music-maker. With seven full-length studio albums under his belt and multiple Gold records to his name with songs that include ‘Punk,’ ‘Out Of The Blue,’ ‘Rock Your Body Rock,’ and other world-class hits like ‘Made Of Love’ featuring Betsie Larkin, ‘Hyper Love’ Feat. Nat Dunn and ‘Radio Crash’, Ferry’s output has always been plentiful and diverse. None more so is this true then with collaboration and remix work that has seen Ferry line-up alongside star names from the world of pop, rock, electronic and hip hop in Justin Bieber, U2, Moby, Faithless, The Killers, William Orbit, Duran Duran and Public Enemy. From his New World Punx project with fellow trance pioneer Markus Schulz to his FULL ON live show concept, whereby he melds different styles of dance music by playing back-to-back sets with his cherry-picked roster of DJ/producer friends and a state-of-the-art stage setup, through to his hotly anticipated new live show and tour concept ‘Ferry Corsten presents Gouryella’. Ferry has continued to push and excite the world with his live and DJ show experiences. A statement that has been felt everywhere from festivals in Tomorrowland, Creamfields, Dance Valley, EDC Las Vegas, clubs such as Amnesia, Space, Ministry of Sound, Avalon, and iconic arenas like Amsterdam’s Heineken Music Hall, Allphones Arena in Sydney and New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Striving always for excellence, this is an artist who is never satisfied with all that he’s accomplished, instead always pushing for the next exciting idea. For Ferry Corsten, the possibilities are limitless.
Tonight is all about UNITY, tell me about the project?
After Blueprint, I feel like I really need projects in my life. UNITY is my attempt to unify, in a way, the trance world. I know, it sounds super dramatic. I feel like there’s so many little islands that call themselves trance; you’ve got the 140 [BPM] guys, you’ve got the psy [trance] guys, on the other side of the spectrum you’ve got the Above & Beyond-type of vocal, groovy, house-based trance. Everyone’s putting their nose up toward the other party, but if you look at trap, all the bass stuff, all the EDM stuff, the house scene, it’s all one, everything’s just one and it’s like a very solid movement. And I feel trance is not that, you know, there’s a vast amount of people that are trance fans, but still the 140 guys look at the 128 guys, like, eh, meh. So with Unity I’m trying to put it all together, so I’m doing collabs with Alpha 9, Paul Oakenfold, Markus Schulz, and a whole bunch of other artists from the trance genre. It’s Unity, united, we’re all one genre, whether it’s this tempo or that tempo, we are a group that makes a stand in the electronic space. I also connected it to a charity organization, VH1 Save the Music Foundation. It’s a charity organization that makes it possible for kids in underprivileged countries to be able to make music, get that creativity out, and just play with music. It’s something my heart is close to, I know what it’s like as an escape, a relief for everyone.
You’re also releasing the Blueprint Remixed album, what is the process like compared to the original album?
Well, the original album, obviously I make all the music, so that’s the foundation. The remix album, it’s taking my tracks, but each caters to a certain audience. So say, track A caters to a slower BPM type of crowd and I want to have that remix on the album, I ask the guy who’s remixing that track to turn it around and make that track sound like it’s being painted for a crowd that likes the banging stuff. So that’s how I look at remixes, the original is there, that caters to a market, but the remixes need to do the opposite. The slow track becomes the banger track, and the banger track becomes the slow track. Just to give it a whole different feel, vibe, idea. And Blueprint had such a strong reaction from my fans, in many ways. Like, oh we don’t like the voiceover, we love the voiceover, this track would be amazing if it was 140 BPM or something like that. So the remix album is answering all those things, and it’s really cool at the same time to see how other artists experience those tracks, and use that as a basis to create their own track.
I’ve always seen Ferry Corsten as an electronic artist first, with heavy trance influences, instead of the other way around. With each artist album, you’ve explored different sounds and genres. In the case of Blueprint, we see filmic and some progressive influences. When you embark on a new project, how do you define what sounds you wish to create?
That’s a great question… I’ve always created music I’ve liked and compiled into one body of work. Whereas with this album, I had a concept, a muse if you will that inspired me. I think over the years as an artist I’ve grown a lot on a producer level. You are right that this album has a lot of filmic influences compared to the past. And that was the whole point. Trance and film score go perfectly together and the sound scaping that film music requires, really enriches any trance production in my opinion. I do think though, that there are a number of tracks on the album that showcase my trance influences and me being a dance music producer.
You’ve been on the cutting edge of trance for practically 20 years. How do you stay invested in what you do after so long?
In a way, it sounds weird, but everyone wants to look forward, but I really look backwards a lot. I try to see where I came from, what people liked then, also at the same time I’m looking around to see what people like now, and I try to combine the two. I think that gives the whole thing a sense of modernity, at the same time it has that familiarity of the old stuff. That’s the way I do it, that’s my process, everyone has their own I think, but that works for me.
As a vocalist in the electronic dance music world, what do you feel you bring to tracks and what’s your responsibility to try and enhance the live experience for the fans?
My voice has a sort of unique tone people tell me, it’s kind of got an ethereal vibe, so it kind of lends itself to trance, which I love, trance is in my heart, in my bones. So what I try to do with every song is take people to another place. And I feel like trance also really does that, it’s spiritual in a way, it transports your soul, and your mind and your heart. So what I try to do is bring words to that and even elevate it some more. Trance is my favorite, it’s just in my being.
Each artist has a different approach to production. Some start with a driving kick, others with a touching melody. What element do you search for in the early production phase that’ll inspire you to finish the song?
I’m all about melody. I’ve always started with a melody as that is what always inspires me first when making a track. The melody is the ‘face’ of a track….
Speaking of production, System F – Out Of The Blue single-handedly and overnight changed trance. 1998 and 1999 saw you release multiple genre defining singles and remixes. Where did you find the inspiration to become so creative and reshape the trance sound?
Thanks. It’s humbling to hear this comment. I don’t know where I find the inspiration to be honest. It can be anything in daily life. But in the case of Out Of The Blue and the wave of tracks that came after, it was gear. New gear that not many people had yet. So I was lucky to come up with a unique sound, and I capitalised on that. I just know that I am very lucky to be able to have a job that I love and have people appreciate what I do. I guess it’s comments and questions like this that keep me working and keep doing what I do.
2018 has been a pretty productive year so far with the birth of your UNITY project; how did that come about?
Having spent a lot of time in the last couple of years working on various solo projects such as the Gouryella concept as well as my last artist album ‘Blueprint,’ I didn’t have enough time to be able to work with other artists in my scene apart from vocalists. During various festivals or shows I would meet up or see other DJs and would make plans to work on something together, only to keep delaying it as I was busy with my own projects.
Meanwhile, after finishing my artist album, I noticed how my scene, the trance scene, despite being a niche market is a fragmented market at that. There are groups that only will play 140bpm, another 128… yet all claim to be in the same scene. I thought at this point that it would be great to work on a number of collaborations with various artists in my genre and come up with a group concept unifying our sound regardless of bpm’s…and that is how Unity was born.
Your new track ‘Rosetta’ is set to be released on July 13th as part of the UNITY project. Tell us about the track?
‘Rosetta‘ is a beautiful melodic trancer which evokes a strong sensation of discovery, hence the name Rosetta. The name Rosetta refers to the Rosetta stone which was fundamental in deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.
‘Rosetta’ is a collaboration with Jordan Suckley. What made you want to work with Jordan on the track, and how has he influenced the final product?
Jordan is a great producer and has been a steady name in the trance name for a while. I’ve always loved his energetic music and sets. When the topic of collaboration came up this was a no brainer. Obviously we both have our own ideas. By going back and forth we kept feeding off each other’s ideas.
You’ve already worked with Paul Oakenfold as well as DIM3NSION on the UNITY project; do you have more collaborations in the works?
Definitely. There will be one with Markus Schulz, Gabriel & Dresden, Ilan Bluestone, Gareth Emery, Arty, BT, and many more…. It’s all in the works.
Recent years have seen you rekindle the ‘Gouryella’ alias as a solo project, with a number of shows under the belt too. Is new Gouryella music planned for the future, and will we see any Gouryella on UNITY?
The Gouryella concept is a project on its own captained by me. We are definitely looking to release a new Gouryella soon, but for Unity unless I want to make a collaboration with myself…I highly doubt it.
What does the remainder of 2018 hold for Ferry Corsten, UNITY, and Gouryella?
We’ve got a whole load of releases from our label Flashover Recordings. For example, I am excited with the upcoming Unity releases…I’m really happy with the result of the new Ferry Corsten single ‘I Love You (Won’t Give It Up)‘. This is a reference to the ‘Punk’ and ‘Rock Your Body Rock‘ era. Last but not the least, I’m working on the current Gouryella single.