If you’re able to last long in the music industry, you must be doing something right. If you ask me, however, legendary DJ Ferry Corsten is doing way more than just surviving the times.
Corsten has been commanding the electronic music scene since the early 90s, wearing enough hats to make any normal person’s head spin. In addition to the albums released under his own name, he has partnered up with numerous heavy hitters like Tiesto and Markus Schulz, and has crafted remixes for mainstream names such as Justin Bieber, U2, and The Killers. And as if that’s not enough, the Dutch DJ hosts weekly and monthly radio shows, owns a record label, and flies back weekly to his residency in Ibiza.
But it’s not all work for this superstar, he’s a family man who always manages to make it home to spend time with wife and little ones in the midst of it all. So essentially, Ferry Corsten is pretty much a super hero.
We met up with him after his set at Electric Zoo, where his track-list of uplifting trance vastly set itself apart from the sea of big-room anthems and bass-filled drops coming from the surrounding stages. Greeting us with a hug and a bright “Hello!” Corsten sat down to give 20something some personal insights and a quick rundown of what we can look forward to in the near future.
20something: After an extremely long hiatus, you released a new track this year under your alias Gouryella. How has that process been for you?
Ferry Corsten: It started many years ago in ’98 with Tiesto. We did 3 first tracks together and the 4th I did myself, and then after a 13 year gap I decided to bring it back.
Do you feel like that has influenced your sets recently?
FC: Yeah, big-time! You know, I’m really longing for that big epic melody stuff again.
Especially with the trends recently moving everything to become much more electro.
FC: And all of the bass-y stuff (laughs).
Well, your set just now definitely took me back to the days of beautiful trance!
FC: (Laughs) yeah, I really want to go back there again. It’s something that I want, but if I can be so free to say, I feel the scene can use it again as well, at least that option. There’s so much banging stuff going on right now that there’s not really much on the melodic side apart from a few acts.
You also just recently played a 3-hour set over in Los Angeles along those lines, which one of my friends has been raving about (shout out to Embry). How are those nights compared to your festival sets, like the one you just played here?
FC: Well I love it, because it’s like you can just take the night. Take them on a journey. A festival is usually an hour and a bit, maybe an hour and a half.
Do you feel that makes the festivals more challenging?
FC: In a way yeah, because you’re so limited to that time slot, and you have to do it all in that time slot. There’s so much music you want to play… where you can fill five hours, and so you’re left thinking “what am I going to pick?!”
How do you approach that? Do you gear more toward the audience and the festival itself?
FC: It’s more like a period in time of what I’m playing, across the board and around the world, and basically this is what I’m into playing right now. But then again, I like to do opposites. For example, I know this lineup here is pretty banging, it’s all around us, so I’ll play really beautiful and throw in some sweet stuff. Not too much, but so you get a contrast, and that’s a good way to at least stand out. Now, whether people really like it and dig that’s another thing (laughs).
Well, you did have a pretty big crowd going there! It was packed, well off toward the next stage.
FC: Yeah, It was really good!
So, how about your project New World Punx? I saw you and Markus on the lineup when it got released and was wondering if you were going two were going to sneak something in. Do you have anything in store coming up?
FC: Markus is playing tonight, I’ll swing by and see what happens (laughs). For New World Punx we definitely have some new music we have been working on. So hopefully the next thing to be released should be ready around the end of this summer.
That’s great, we’ll all be looking forward to it! You two separately both played the first Electric Zoo if I’m not mistaken. How do you feel this year compares to the first?
FC: I feel every year I’ve played here they’ve grown and come out stronger! It was a lot smaller then. You had a main stage and a few other little areas, and now it’s a full- blown festival.
Do you still remember those firsts with the rise of festival culture? Or do they all begin to blur together?
FC: Yeah! I do remember. Some of them do begin to start to blur together over time, but EZoo is one that really stands out because, apart form Ultra Miami, it’s the only other one that I really know that is really inside a city, and that’s what makes this so cool!
Is there anything else new and exciting we can be expecting in the future?
FC: Well, I’m a man of many secrets (laughs). I’m working on EP 3 of my Hello World series to round it all up. That and a lot of tour dates in the States coming up, Asia, and Australia dates too.
Are you looking forward to any of those in particular?
FC: I love Asia! It’s all really beautiful, and I get some really good crowds in Japan, Indonesia and Taiwan!
I did watch the UMF Live stream from Japan and comparatively they were much more reserved. They did get bouncing around a bit by the end though.
FC: Well the funny thing is, I’ve notice the people in Japan, out of everyone, always somehow manage not to dance on the beat! You should try that sometime. I guarantee you within 10 seconds you’re on beat again.
We also couldn’t leave the interview without a couple 20some curveball questions from Music Editor and resident smart mouth Talia!
20something: If you had to pick a Disney song to be the theme song of your life, what would you pick?
FC: Hah, I’m not even familiar with any Disney songs! …Frozen, is that Disney?! My daughter is crazy about that one.
So… would you say that music influences your work?
FC: That’s why I go back to melodic stuff now, tear-jerking Disney soundtracks ha!
This is our favorite question to ask…If you had to describe your music using only words you’d use to describe food, what would they be?
FC: It’s a tasty palette! Of all flavors!
Way to dodge the question, Ferry.