interview by Kristofer Upjohn
Sometimes, when a producer or DJ tries something new, it breaks
through preconceived notions of what they, their music, and even
the whole genre they are known for playing stands for...one such
DJ, who's new album's name LEF actually means 'having guts' in his
native Dutch, granted us an interview by email. In English the initials
are an acronym that stands for "Loud. Electronic. Ferocious."
Kris: Was "L.E.F. (Loud. Electronic. Ferocious)"
a deliberate attempt at diversifying your repertoire?
Ferry Corsten: I guess it was the moment in my
career, rather than an attempt. I've been producing trance music
for over 7 years and I really wanted to go back to producing whatever
I felt. Before I broke through as a trance producer, I had been
producing all sorts of EDM for years. From ambient to hardcore and
from house to drum'n bass. With the production of L.E.F., I felt
it was time to go with the flow again...
Are you trying to move away from the classic trance sound or expand
your embrace of other genres?
I'm not trying to get away from the trance genre. It's the opposite
actually. I just think that it's good for the music to look around
and try different interpretations. I've always been very interested
in different styles of music. It's amazing to see how many different
emotions and impressions you can create with the same melody, but
just by using a different style. I'm a big fan of melodies, so my
music will always be very melodic. That will never change...It's
only the 'wrapper' around it, that changes from time to time...
What's your secret to writing such emotive and catchy melodies?
I always want to be able to sing the melody myself. It has to be
easy enough for everybody to remember it. Even months after having
heard it for the last time... When a melody is a nice little circle,
it's easy and catchy...
What's the single-most important element in a dance tune, in
For me, that is the groove. The programming of the beats. The groove
is the element in a dance tune that makes you dance, or at least
tap your foot or bob your head ;-)
What influences held sway over you as you worked on this disc?
I've always been heavily influenced by music from the 80's. I guess
it's clear when you listen to the album, that that influence is
What's the one thing you'd like everyone to know about the
L.E.F. is all about having an open mind towards all kinds of music.
LEF actually means 'having guts' in Dutch. With this in mind,
I started working on this album and It really goes from House and
Electro to Trance and Techno. After 7 years of producing only Trance,
I felt it was time to produce very open minded again. See it as
if you are walking into a club with different rooms and each room
has different music...
Do you feel like you're a long way from your "Out of the
I definitely think so. I've really grown as a producer in terms
of sound and understanding the production process. However, my musical
influences are pretty much the same. It's that 80's thing that was
also there with my first system F album 'Out Of The Blue'. On that
album I'd already done a collaboration with Softcell's Marc Almond.
Is there anything you miss about the old days?
It's the simplicity of producing tracks. In those days, it was
all midi and the momentum of a track was captured straight away.
It was also very fulfilling to hear that the drum loop you'd been
editing for hours did fit well into your track. Now, it's so easy
to get lost in the possibilities your software has to offer. There
is always a risk that you miss the point of what a track is all
about because you keep tweaking your sound until you ruined it completely.
How would you describe how you have experienced change and
progress in electronic music over the years?
I had my first production released when I was 16 years old, so
I guess you could say that I've been producing professionally for
about 17 years now. In all the years, there has always been a wave
of music that has become more popular than the other. Having said
that each market all over the world also may have one type of music
more popular than the other as well. However, in general, every
electronic music has had its "heyday" and in time, the same music
with a new twist rises again...In the early 90's for example, in
Holland, Gabba was a very popular music, then came progressive in
the late 90's, trance in the late 90's and during the millennium.
Nowadays, however, I think the public is a lot more mature and more
aware of the various music. All types of dance electronic music
is thriving in each market techno, house, trance, progressive, all
types of music is nowadays doing quite well...
Is there a genre of electronica you haven't dabbled in that
you'd like to explore?
Hmmm, that's a tough call, I've produced pretty much all kinds
of music through the years, I do want, when I'm a lot older, to
produce a lot of chilled out music... after the whole DJing, traveling
thing I guess...
What's your favorite thing about dance culture?
The freedom to create so many kinds of music and to "re-invent"
the wheel I guess. As a producer, it's always refreshing to make
something different and when it is successful, it feels to good
to be able to contribute something to the scene.
The politics, the hassle... It is a tough world out there! I am
definitely blessed to have been able to make a career out of my
hobby and it is my passion, but sometimes with all the traveling
and politics, you have to take a step back and remember why you
do what you do.
What are some of your influences that exist outside the electronic
Culture, scenery, various people I meet when I'm travel ling...
I do get inspired from these things when I'm working on a song or
I noticed some hip-hop touches on one track; what brought that
on? Was it a challenge to get it to mix right with what you're doing
I've always felt that an artist album is a presentation of what
you are capable of as an artist or producer. If you're going to
make the same type of music for the entire album, it doesn't stimulate
the listener or the producer (me) for that matter. The tricky thing
is though, to make all tracks sound like they gel with each other...
Having said that, I've had a few songs that I made in the album
where I wanted to have a fresh twist with them, hence the collaboration
What was it like to work with Duran Duran's Simon LeBon?
I felt very inspired after hearing Duran Duran's "Serious."
I sampled the first vocal lines out of the original and went into
the studio. I came up with this house tune and the band loved it.
Initially, we were going to re-record the vocal, but it turned out
to be not possible. So, the original Duran recording was dug up
in L.A. and the vocals send over to me to work with and re-record
my track. I was also supplied with their video footage for use in
my own video. I was great to get so much help from Duran Duran.
The album sounds as if electro had an influence on you. Is
that true, and if so where did that come from?
Definitely! I've always been inspired by the electro music of the
80's. I guess my productions in the last couple of years have slowly
been showing the influence of that. I've always been intrigued with
the various sounds, squeaks, and the rawness of electro music. It
is raw yet when done properly can create a full impact.
You also did some moodier music on this disc. Any chance you'll
ever go all the way to ambient or chillout to experiment?
Through the years I've also produced a lot of ambient/chillout music
under another name... I've definitely added a number of this type
of music in the album to have a good balance. I wanted my listeners
to be able to listen to the entire album and not just stop after
a few tracks because it gets to crazy!!!
Where do you see Ferry Corsten a year from now?
Still healthy, still happy, still producing music and playing all
over the world! ....and working on my next album ;-)
Any final thoughts you'd like to share?
Most people got to know me during my 'trance' years. But I have
been making electronic music for 15 years now and have produced
every possible style you can think of and under dozens of aliases.
I've produced music from Ambient to Hardcore 'Gabba', Drum'n Bass
and Techno. I just wanted to know what it was, that attracted people
to a certain style of music. But I've always had something with
melodies. Therefore, it was Trance, I felt very comfortable with.
And I eventually broke through with this style. I've made trance
for about 7 years and I felt it was time for me to go back to a
wider range of styles. I made L.E.F. with a very open mind and this
is the result.
We love it! Thank you for such typing out such a great interview!
For more info check out www.ferrycorsten.com
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