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Interview: Ferry Corsten
On EDM culture, a new tour with Markus Schulz, and hosting the Full-On Stage at Tomorrowworld

For us, Electric Zoo began before we even set foot on Randalls Island. Rather, we began our adventure on a slight detour to the LES to attend a press cocktail with one of trance's biggest names- Ferry Corsten. His team treated us extremely well, offering us drinks by the poolside as we waited to speak with him about the progression of Electric Zoo and EDM culture, the Full-On Stage at Tomorrowworld, and New World Punx, to name a few. What we enjoyed most about speaking to Ferry was that he was particularly humble, and he gave thorough answers which is always a gift. He has just released his latest episode of Corsten's Countdown (#323) and his set from Ezoo, both of which you can listen to below. 

How do you think Electric Zoo has progressed in its few short years, as well as EDM culture as a whole?

The festival has become way bigger. There used to be only three tents, but now it’s a big deal. If you look at the full-scale production and the lineups now, everyone is playing, which is great. EDM, dance music, as a whole in the states, I think has become the major youth culture in music, you know? Not only in youth culture. Because in days back, so long ago, almost three decades now that you’ve actually seen all of this rock, hip hop— dance music has become one of the big ones. It comes with a lot of ground right now. The other thing that I hope for this music, because it’s growing so fast right now—you can have like 50 tracks lined up and they all sound exactly the same. And that is the one thing that we need to get a step away from. People need to start thinking for themselves again. And not anymore—“Oh, what did that guy make? Let’s make a record that sounds like that.” You know, people talk about the sound of today, the sound of now. Not anymore like, ten years ago we talked about—“That’s the sound of Paul Oakenfold. That’s the sound of Sasha.” They were distinct, musical tastes and right now, it’s the sound of now. What is that? I hope it goes back to the sound of that person and the sound of that person, and everything becomes distinct again.

Speaking of EDM changing in the States, you are going to host the Full-On Stage at TomorrowWorld. What do you think that’s going to be like, and who are you most excited to play with?

Not to sound corny, but I’m actually excited to play with everybody. Because everybody plays a key role in what the stage will be like the whole day. It’s going to be trancey, but some elements are going to be more housey, which makes it very exciting for me because I’ll have to be on my toes and start getting really creative with a more housey sound. So, it’s cool. What people can expect is a good old jam session. Because I’ve played B2B with everybody, although it’s different genres. But the cool thing is that I don’t know what those people are playing. So, it’s just like that. We’ll see, and dive into it, and we’ll take it wherever we can take it. And then, the next one who comes in, because I play B2B with everybody at the end of their set, and introducing the new guy— so the new guy will have to think, “Ok, so this has just been played. What am I gonna start with now?” It’s a more organic set throughout the whole thing.

Will you be having a live stream like you did at Tomorrowland?

I know that there is some talk about radio—I’m not really sure who will be doing it, but there is a very big chance there is some streaming.

What’s next for New World Punx?

Next for New World Punx is Romania next week and we’re going to be playing at a stadium/arena, which I’m really looking forward to. And then we are actually finalizing a tour over here in the States!

You have avid listeners and fans all over the world because you make and share music that moves us, literally. As an artist, how have you given back to the community and made a difference in the world with your music? Or how do you plan to do so in the future?

You know, in the end, I never really think about how I can give something back to the world. This whole music thing started for me as a hobby, a passion. And I hope that passion is still audible in my music. And if that’s the case, then the small time I have in the studio putting it together, for me, is the whole point to bring that out on the dance floor. And it’s not really a pre-determined sort of move, like “Oh, I made this track, so you’re happy.” It’s just that I love what I do and I hope that comes out when you’re listening to me.

Your recent track, “Kudawudashuda,” is currently a fan favorite. Is there a story behind the title of the song? What made you decide to come up with this particular name?

It’s funny. Sometimes you just make a track and for weeks you’re looking for a title that makes sense. I was actually talking to my agency in New York about a couple of shows and [my booking agent] just said to me, “Yeah yeah yeah. Coulda, woulda, shoulda.” And I was like, “Oh wow, that’s really cool.” So I just used that. There’s not rocket science behind it.

You’ve managed to maintain your position as a key artist who can still throw down for the newer listeners who most of the time crave the “bass-drop.” I believe it’s because of your unique blend of hard electro with melodic trance. Would this be the accurate description of your Loud Electronic Ferocious concept, the title of one of your studio albums?

Yeah! I think LEF brings everything together. I had my breakthrough with trance and that’s why everyone sees me as a trance DJ. Before that, I made D&B, house, techno, ambient. I did everything before that already. And then with the breakthrough of trance, people were just like, “That’s all he does.” I can only do something the same for so long. Then I just need to move on, I need to trigger myself. I need to inspire myself again. And there’s where LEF, basically everything comes together. Before electro became electro house, in the 80s there was electro. That’s what inspired me. And that is what LEF brings into the blend of trance. The whole thing about blending genres is to look for extremes. I think if you have a melody so pretty and beautiful, but on the other hand, the sound that it’s played with or the bassline is really rowdy and rough, that extreme creates extra emotion. That’s what I’ve been looking for.

Going back to your sound, could you talk more about what Gabber is?

Gabber is now more known as hardstyle. Back in the day ,it was like 180 BPM. Real hard, real fast. Everything's distorted. Just trash, really. It was the biggest thing out there in Holland.

Ferry, you have risen to a level at which anybody who hears your music or rather, your name, would know exactly who you are and what you’re about. Would you care to indulge us on your aliases such as Moonman and System F?

Before I had my own label and before I was DJing, I was producing so fast, and so much music that it was just too much for one label to handle. It’s different now. Now you see one artist on Ferry’s label. But back then, every label would have a certain activity on a name. So you would sign a certain project on a certain artist’s name with that label, and they would have exclusive rights to that name. It was too much for just that one label so I would release my music with that label. And since that name was already reserved for them, I had to come up with a new name. So that’s why I came up with so many pseudo names. When I had my own label, I had no artists yet. So I did the same thing on my own label. Back in the day my label was Tsunami Records. All the first releases were all different names, but it was all me. I was producing all that music under different names, so it looked like Tsunami had a big roster of artists, but it was all me.

Besides being a complete badass artist, you were also the first DJ in 2008 to be named the Ambassador of Freedom by the Dutch Liberation Day Committee. What’s the story behind that?

Every year, in commemoration of the Second World War, the Liberation Committee in Holland appoints four different artists—it could be bands, or solo artists—to perform on one day in every province; there are thirteen. They have a big event outside and the artists play three or four shows, while the army flies around in a helicopter. So they picked me, and they never had a DJ before so I was like, “Oh, that’s really cool.” First of all I got to fly in an army helicopter. Then I got to play for so many people, and then I have to bring across that message. It was pretty cool to actually talk about the stories that my grandparents taught me back in the day, what they went through. Everyone was there, and they were 16 or 17-years-old. They had no idea. It was a cool thing to do to try and get their attention. Like, “Okay guys, you live in a perfect world, don’t forget that."