After two decades in the trance music biz, Ferry Corsten has still got it going on. Andrea Yu finds out how the popular Dutch DJ/producer keeps his sound fresh
DJing for more than two decades is not an unheard-of accomplishment. But staying on top of your game and being consistently heralded as an innovator in your respective industry is another feat altogether. Ferry Corsten has achieved just that and then some, proving with his latest release WKND that he’s still got what it takes when it comes to trance music production. “The response was good, even with the critics and reputable websites,” Corsten says over the phone from his native Holland with a sigh of relief shortly after the release of WKND. “It was a bit scary putting out this album – like with any new album.”
We think Corsten had good reason to be a little apprehensive about the release of WKND, which came out in February. He took a step out of the typical trance comfort zone and dropped the album’s average bpm to around 130. “Trance music in general is slowing down. Before, trance was easily 135 to 138bpm,” says the 38-year-old. Other experiments on the album include a collaboration with fellow electronic DJ and friend, Armin van Buuren. The two co-created the anthemic trance track Brute, which Corsten describes as having a ‘good groove’, thanks to adopting an unusual triple-time signature. Judging by crowd reactions at his gigs so far, the experiment was a raging success.
But Corsten is well accustomed to venturing outside of the typical trance sound. He says he dabbles in other genres to add a bit of edge to his sound – notably with house music, which he’s been doing since 2001. “Blending trance with other styles of dance music will keep it fresh,” he says – although he does say that trance is always the basis of his music. And, for that reason, one genre Corsten has yet to venture fully into is dubstep. “Whatever you use out of that style will take over, giving it an instant dubstep vibe instead of a trancey dubstep vibe,” he says. “Dubstep will basically hijack the record and that is not what I’m looking for.”
As a Dutchman, Corsten comes from a country of successful trance and dance music artists: the massively-popular house DJ Tiësto, the house/hip-hop crossover hit-maker Afrojack and Armin van Buuren, to name a few. We wondered – was something lurking in Dutch waters that was conducive to creating awesome dance music? “The Netherlands is in the middle of everything – we take parts of the sounds from surrounding countries,” says Corsten.
Aside from being a creator of these sounds, Corsten is also a curator of them as the head of his own record label – Flashover Recordings. He founded the label in 2005 not only as a platform to release his own studio albums but also to discover new talent in the electronic music field. “We’re heavy on the production side as well,” says Corsten. “There might be a song that is 80 percent of the way there, so we’ll give it that extra 20 percent it needs.”
Plenty of Flashover artists are also featured on his radio show, the aptly-titled Corsten’s Countdown, which runs weekly as an online broadcast. Just after we spoke to the DJ, he celebrated his 250th radio show with a marathon eight-hour broadcast where his followers could tweet in their song requests. While we won’t be so lucky to get an eight-hour set for Corsten’s gig in Hong Kong this fortnight, we think his upcoming show at the more intimate club setting of Hyde will keep his fans in the city suitably entranced.
Ferry Corsten plays a set at Hyde on Saturday May 5. Tickets: www.rnrasia.com.