It’s not enough to be just a DJ anymore. You have wear so many other hats: DJ, producer, label owner, radio show host, etc. Some of the elite DJs have a slew of different aliases too, each with a different sound and additional DJs to produce something extraordinary. Ferry Corsten is one of those people. Over the last 20 years, he’s gone from a local trance DJ from Rotterdam, Amsterdam to owner of Flashover Recordings, host of Corsten’s Countdown (which just hit 400 episodes this year), 1/2 of New World Punx with Markus Schulz, and the DJ also known as System F and Gouryella (which at one time was a duo with Tiesto). Like many other DJs, Ferry has recently announced that he was returning to the classics, and planned to revive the Gouryella alias with a new release. Your EDM sat down with the Dutch powerhouse last week to discuss Gouryella and more.
Is your next EP finished? What changes can fans expect from Hello World 02?
It’s in the final stages of production, just lots of bits and pieces to polish. Hello World 02 is a natural progression from the first, there’s nothing out of the ordinary like a hardstyle track or anything in there. Hello World o1 had four or five vocal tracks This one has three, and we’re still debating to include this one vocal track on there or not. I guess it’s a bit more trancey than the previous one and it just happened because I’ve been playing more trance in my sets. By trance I mean more melodic, based on the big melody. I’m not changing the BPM to 140, it’s more lush and melodic than the other one.
I also heard that you’re bringing back your old aliases too?
Just the one. The first few Gouryella tracks I did with Tiesto and the most recent I did on my own before I started releasing under my own name. This project over the years has been on everyone’s wish list. In interviews and tweets, ‘Hey is Gouryella ever coming back?’ and I thought, ‘Hey, there’s something there that people really want.’ It’s a combination of both of these things: the first being the real demand of die-hard trance fans that want it back. Second, it’s my own desire for the sound to change. I just want music back music in the musical sense of the word: good melodies, amazing tracks that actually tell you something other than fist pumping and jumping.
You can see the trend happening with deep and future house. It’s a different name but it’s nothing more than UK garage from the 90s. The same is going to happen with trance. So I thought maybe I can do something with Gouryella. It’s been on my mind and in the works for the last couple of years. The problem I had was that especially for the name Gouryella there’s a very particular melody structure involved and I couldn’t find the melody. I couldn’t find the right thing that said this is absolutely 100% Gouryella and then I finally found it.
Speaking on going back to the way things used to be sound-wise, do you think this is a change that we’ll start to see in sets as well?
I hope so! If you’re playing a set as short as 55 minutes or as long as 90 minutes at a festival and everyone else on the same lineup is doing it too, do you know what’s gonna happen? After the fourth or fifth person you’re getting just the big beat; there’s no journey. Where can you go in that amount of time? You can’t build anything – it’s instant gratification. With so many artists packed on the festival lineup, there’s no soul anymore. With DJs playing longer sets, it allows them to select older tracks and have a more old school vibe. Now, I don’t want to actually go old school; I’m saying let’s borrow from them and let it influence today’s sounds and make new tracks with it, with certain elements that are typical with modern tracks. Not to make the music sound dated, but use some of the old elements and incorporate it with today’s technology to make something better.
So no more vinyl sets?
As much as I loved the vinyl days and the sentiment is still there, I don’t miss it. It’s nice getting on a plane with just a USB stick of all my music and not have to explain to the flight attendant why I needed to bring that heavy crate of vinyl into the cabin and not have it stowed with the rest of the luggage (laughs).
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.
You keep mentioning house. Are you dropping hints that your next alias could in the house genre?
Nah, it’s just an example. Some of the tracks I’ve done, like ‘Fire’ with Simon Le Bon, they’re house, not trance. If you step out of your comfort zone, then you really dig into new sounds and learn what that other style is made of, what elements go into the composition of that sound. That’s what I love to do. I love to analyze how music is made and what makes it that and then I see if I can use those elements in my own style. It’s kinda like cross-pollination, that’s how you push things forward. For all these years I’ve been making my music, if I was still making trance the way I made it 12 years ago, there would be no progression. That’s why I love to explore what else is out there. Let’s go there and try something else. By doing that you can create the unexpected.