Legendary trance producer/DJ Ferry Corsten recently brought his “What the F” show to Exchange in Los Angeles for a special open-to-close set. Fans were treated to a wonderful journey through more than two decades of trance as Ferry dropped his kitchen sink of productions that he’s been behind over the years.
Ferry started out with some System F and then weaved in and out of other iconic productions including his newer tracks on his own label Flashover and some classic Armada tracks too. Not only was the evening an epic journey through Ferry’s career, it was also a fascinating look at how dance music (specifically trance) has changed over the years.
We got the chance to have a brief chat with Ferry prior to the show. We talked about what Ferry has been up to over the past couple of years, his thoughts on music and the industry and a preview of what’s to come
Hey Ferry! Thanks for chatting with us. A lot has happened since the last time we talked. Tell us what you’ve been up to, how music production is going, and what’s kept you going and inspired?
“I guess the first thing that came out right after the pandemic hit was my ambient album, FERR. So, I got a lot of questions like are you a time reader, was that on purpose? Since there’s a pandemic, people would listen to more chill stuff? But, that was just a coincidence, I was already working on that stuff. On the road, basically, getting away from the four x four stuff. When I was on the plane, just putting some mellow stuff together. And before I knew it, I had an album worth of tracks. So, that came out, after that I’ve been working on…well, basically for 2020, the What the F’ tour I’m doing now. That was already planned for 2020, so I was already working on that a little as well. And, of course, that fell through, so I put it aside for a while. Hoping for 2021, but that didn’t happen either.
So, in the meantime, yeah, what did I do? I’ve just been releasing tracks, but it’s weird to be in the studio. Everyone works differently, right? But, for me, it was different to be working on dance music or trying to work on banging tracks when there’s no purpose. There’s no dance floor, no festivals. So, I really enjoyed doing some of the more mellow stuff, because, I really felt for me personally, that was what my vibe was throughout the two years, I guess. So, I released a bunch of more mellow tracks, I’d say, and then, all of a sudden, the flood gates are open again and it’s full steam ahead. So, before I knew it, I had like, oh yeah, but Ferry, you also have your promised What the F dates coming up again, and you still have to put the show together. So, it’s like, ah, okay.
So, I went into the studio, just worked on that, because to go through 20 years of tracks, you know, that was quite a mission. There was so much music to go through; which is playable, which is something I want to play, what is a track that I want to play but doesn’t sound good anymore, it needs an update. Did a lot of that, as well. Some of the older tracks that are cool when you listen to them solo, but, if you listen to them in a set next to very up to date tracks, very new tracks; they just sound, sonically, they sound old. So, I’ve been updating them, reproducing them, to make it match with today’s punch if you will.
So, yeah, that was a good two-and-a-half months of production and putting it together. Also, you have to tell a story, you have to stay interesting for about six hours. And, I didn’t want to do a chronological thing. It’s not like, oh yeah, the old tracks come at the end. But, yeah, it was quite a mission to get it started. But, yeah, in a nutshell, that’s my two years.”
Last time we talked, you were about to embark upon a What the F Tour. That’s finally going to happen now. Tell us what fans can expect from you on the road this summer and fall.
“There’s four more dates coming up, I’ve got San Francisco and LA, and I’ve got Washington DC and Chicago. But, then there’s Norway, there’s Ibiza, there’s some Asian stuff we’re working on.”
How’s it been back out at festivals? Does it feel normal again to you?
“It’s almost like slipping back into autopilot in a way, in terms of doing the festivals. But, playing the music, for me, to be honest is quite a bit of a new thing, a different thing. Because so much has happened, music has changed a lot. A lot of stuff has become, and what I feel connected to has become a lot deeper. But, yeah, it’s interesting to see the new sounds that are big right now versus three years ago. Obviously, main stage is still EDM, it’s still the same thing, but the rest, there’s a lot of changes going on. Techno is huge right now, of course, but, also, I don’t even know what to call it. In my book, it’s noted as trance, but very progressive, and slow, but the stuff like Artbat, that sound is just something that I feel attracted to, and inspired and interested by. So, yeah, it’s interesting to see where this year is taking me personally with my sound.”
What trends have you been noticing in dance music and in music in general? It feels like people are yearning for the old days kind of.
“Yeah, there’s definitely a little nostalgia thing going on. I really think that is something that developed through the pandemic, through lock down. You know, there’s nothing to look forward to, so you look back, right? I think for example, Dave Dresden, with his whole, every night or every week he had his stream where he was playing old stuff. So, that’s a good example of what was going on, and you really hear that now as well. A lot of the stuff that’s coming out right now, it has this sort of like early-2000s, maybe even late 90s type of vibe to it, which is very interesting as well. That’s another sort of new thing that I’ve been hearing a lot lately. Where, before the pandemic you would say, ‘Oh, man, that sounds dated and old school.’ You know, too old. Now, it’s the cool thing!”
At this stage of your career, what else would you like to accomplish? How do you stay relevant and on top of things after 20 years?
“I don’t know, that’s a tough one, I don’t really think I can just put my finger on it. And, in fairness, that would be really easy as well. I mean, where would I want to go? I did my last album Blueprint back in 2016-2017. It was the one with the narration and the whole story. I kind of want to revisit that concept again. Not that I’m going to Blueprint Vol. 2, I don’t really think that you can…If you do something, the follow-up is always…it has to be really good for it to be better than the first. So, instead of doing a follow-up, it’s something completely different. But, the actual concept of doing a story again, I really, really enjoyed doing that album because of all of its facets. That was the album, you know? The artwork, the story, just the whole thing, I felt like I was making a movie without picture. So, yeah, going back there again would be awesome. That’s definitely something I would want to do again.
I’ve done a score for a movie called ‘Don’t Go.’ I’d love to do that again. Making music is one thing, but making music or composing to an actual picture, it’s a whole different ball game. And just the process itself was really cool too. Obviously, the pictures that you’re watching and knowing what the storyline is, that already brings an emotion in its own right. Then, you add the music to it, and it’s like, wow, it’s amazing.”
As the world is getting back to normal, have you started reaching out to other trance producers trying to figure out some collabs or bangers going forward?
“Yeah, I really feel like doing collabs is a good way to get yourself, sort of switched on again. All the guys you work with, they bring ideas to the table, and so do you, for them, so you feed off of each other really well. I’ve just been in the studio with Markus Schulz, there’s something cool coming up with him. I’ve been talking to Ilan again and a few other guys, but I’ll keep that under wraps for now.”
Thanks Ferry, appreciate taking the time to chat with us. Any advice or messages for the fans?
“Yeah, well, I hope to see you all at the ‘What the F’ shows, especially for the people who have been following me for a while, you will be served your favorite meal.”
Check out the latest from Ferry Corsten, “You Can’t Stop Me” out now on Flashover/Armada. If you missed out on What the F, check out his 3-hour What the F! Special Ferry did a couple months back.