- Stephen Donovan
This week I take a break from my usual reviewing and instead, I´m the role of interviewer. Being a massive fan of his for years, I felt truly privileged to be interviewing the trance legend, Ferry Corsten. Hailing from Holland, Corsten is known for his high energy but also emotional sets while mixing from a variety of genres. Through his several alias´s (System F, New World Punx, Gouryella), Corsten has stood the test of time starting his career back in 1991 and is still today a crowd favorite. He is back in Ibiza for 2016 with a select number of shows for Cream, playing his shows as Gouryella after massive success with tracks ´Anahera´ and ´Neba´. The interview takes place on the open rooftop terrace of Amnesia an hour before his set.
Breaking the stigma of DJ´s being big-headed, Ferry greets me with a smile, a big hug and a bag of Haribo and M&M´s for us to share. Just shows what a nice guy he is, and really set the interview off in a nice, personal tone.
We have some fast pleasantries and introductions, but I am very eager to get onto my questions and hear his stories.
Seeing as this piece is for The Ibizan, I thought it only fitting to start off my questions about Ibiza.
So Ferry, can you remember your first time in Ibiza? And what year was it?
Yeah, it was in 2000, I had one or two shows in Es Paradise and I was super proud because it was the beginning of my career. At the time it was a lot different from how it is now but I was super excited to be playing there! I was still using vinyl back then and not very experienced travelling with them. So I get on the flight to Ibiza and the air stewardess tells me to check in my records, which I did. And of course my records got lost!! I had to borrow what I could from other DJ´s to fill my hour-and-a-half set but somehow I made it work.
Can you remember who the headliner was that night?
I think it was (Judge) Jules. It was the year before he started his Judgement nights. I really loved that night, I can still remember it, with the main room for real trance and the back room for house. After that year I then ended up accompanying Jules for the next six or seven years for Judgement. Then I did a few years here at Cream and then started my own ´Full On Ferry´ nights.
If you had one place to visit in Ibiza where would it be?
I think I have to pick my favorite dinner place, which is right next to here, Los Dos Lunas. This maybe just because it’s out of habit because I play here at Cream so often and when I used to play with Judgement Sunday, me and Jules and the crew would come here every week. The nice thing about that place is you have that crazy buzz coming from Ibiza town and San Antonio and the food is amazing.
After all these years in Ibiza do you have a favorite club?
Amnesia is definitely one of the nicer clubs in Ibiza especially for this type of music and maybe Pacha for house music. But I´ve seen Ibiza come and go and change, is it the same as 10 years ago? I don´t think so.
Speaking of changes have you seen many during your time in Ibiza?
Ibiza for me has always been the place where it was all about the music and all about the pure sounds, while places like Las Vegas was always about the bottle service and the glossier stuff. Right now Ibiza is becoming like that. It’s all in the same acts, the same DJ´s with the same sets, and I respect everybody for what they’re doing but I think the winning factor that Ibiza had over everywhere else was that deeper side, the more pure dance music instead of that commercial bottle service bullshit like they have now.
Does this piss you off?
Yes it does piss me off. Because it’s all becoming like that, everywhere, and it’s just bullshit!
After a 13 year break you´re back with Gouryella. Why did you choose to come back now?
Yeah I brought it back maybe you felt already from some of my answers but I’m getting really tired of the scene, I’m getting tired of the music, trance as well to be honest. Is trance the savior of all? No, of course not. Trance has taken a nose dive as well over the past few years. Gouryella isn’t just a thing that happened last year. It started back in 1999 till about 2004, it ended because my head wasn’t in the right space. I moved on to electro-house, electro-techno and electro-trance more of the grainy stuff.
For me at some point trance became too fluffy. Trance is fine when it’s fluffy as long as it has a balance like a dirty side to it. If it’s all fluffy and rainbows it’s like blah blah blah. I was tired of the whole thing, with trance with EDM, with the whole ‘Put Your Fucking Hands Up!’ & ´1,2,3 JUMP!´ So that’s why I brought back Gouryella. I’m taking the sound back to a time with the music I loved, that use give me goosebumps!
Do you think you could get Tiesto back with you?
No, he gone in a different direction. We´ve never spoke about it, but he wanted to move on and concentrate on his own sound.
Your new track ´Neba´ means Heaven, it’s such an emotional song. Was it hard to produce?
Neba just came to me. It was real easy!
Who’s your favorite DJ to do back-to-back sets with?
I’d have to say Markus Schulz, that’s why we started New World Punk. Markus and I are on the super same wavelength with music. Even our backgrounds, coming from old-school hip-hop and electronic Hip Hop. We really feel the music, and we both dislike the same things and both like the same things.
For the past 2 summers you did Full On Ferry in Space. This year you’ve chosen not to have a residency but to do select shows. Do you prefer having more freedom with the shows you have or rather the weekly shows that come with a residency?
I loved my shows in Space and I would certainly do it again, I did it for 2 years with 14 shows a season and with 2 kids this can be difficult. 14 weeks is a long time, so that’s the main reason behind not continuing my residency. Ideally I would do 6 or 7 shows and get guests to do the remaining and call it just ´Full On´ but Space changed its programming, and it gone very techno heavy.
Are you happy with the shows you´re doing?
Yes, very happy. I´ve done Cream already this season which was an amazing night and will be here again for the Closing party on September 15th, which I´m excited about. Cream is the only true night in Ibiza which is still supporting trance music, which it had always done.
Can we ask you some general questions Ferry?
Your take on EDM, do you think it has a positive or negative impact on trance?
Well I´ll try to make my own answer but Carl Cox made the right answer for this. He said it’s an entry level for people who never heard about dance music before, they come from Hip-Hop, Rock, whatever. So I think generally it is a good thing, it draws people from other music into the electronic space which is great. And as Carl said they will start developing their own tastes.
Do you have your eye on any up and coming DJ´s?
Yeah, there´s this guy called Dimension, he´s from Spain, and he´s has that 1999/2000 sound but it’s also very now. He could be that next big guy!
Your 3 all-time favorite trance songs?
Wow, this is a hard one to answer. Number 1 for me, I was listening to this just the other day, would be Matt Dareys remix of ´It’s not over´. Then The Thrillseekers ´Synaesthesia´. And number 3 would be, DJ Tandu´s remix of ´I believe´ by Lange. Those 3 tracks for me are special, they have that sound, that vibe, that goosebumps feeling. There’s so many but off the top of my head these 3.
Best set you´ve ever played?
Wow, that’s another hard question, a few years ago I did a producer set at Creamfields, an hour and a half of just my tracks and no one had done that before and that was special. The noise from the crowd was nuts, they were louder than the music.
Ferry and I spoke for almost an hour (which went by in what felt like ten minutes) before he had to make his way back to the main room for his set. His insight into the dance/trance scene is remarkable, having been in the industry for almost 3 decades every question I asked, he responded with not just generic answers, but with such understanding and detail. It was amazing to sit and pick his brain about Ibiza, and trance and everything in between.
Ferry will be back again for Creams closing party on September 15th, not a night to be missed.