It’s been 20 years since one of Holland’s most influential electronic dance music pioneers, Ferry Corsten released his iconic trance classic, “Out of the Blue”. The track which was produced under one his earliest guises, System F proved to be a career-changing moment for the Dutchman.
“Out of the Blue” was one of the biggest trance tracks in 1999, and it successfully achieved a top twenty position in the U.K. singles chart, which catapulted Corsten into worldwide recognition.
Prior to the debut of System F, Corsten hit the #46 spot in the U.K. singles chart with “Don’t Be Afraid” by his Moonman guise in 1996. That was the Dutchman’s first breakthrough as a solo electronic dance music artist.
At this stage of his career, Corsten didn’t put much thought into his career progression. He was just making music that he liked. “One day it could be a drum ‘n’ bass track and the next thing you know I’ll be making an acid house or techno track,” he recalls.
Corsten sometimes found inspiration from experimenting with new equipment and software. He was one of the first few people in Holland to have owned the Roland JP-8000 when if first came out. “It had the famous super soul sound in it. I played around with it and I got this ultra wide big beehive sound and that’s how the name “Out of the Blue” came up,” he explains.
The track changed the way Corsten produced his music. He finally had a formula and structure for his production style, “Hence the name, System F because I started to have a systematic way of producing. Veracocha and Gouryella that came after is based on what I did with “Out of the Blue”.”
Corsten constantly tries do keep it fresh all the time. The follow-up single, “Cry” featuring soulful vocals by Saskia Lie Atjam was another game changer in the earlier parts of his career. It wasn’t traditionally trance and it was intentionally made that way because he wanted everyone to know that he wasn’t just a ‘one-hit wonder’.
His need for diversity is what has kept him relevant in the scene over the past two decades. After a few years of producing classic trance, Corsten was inspired by the electroclash movement. “The sound of Storm intrigued me and that is how “Punk” came to be”, says Corsten.
In 2004 he released his debut album, Right of Way under his own name, Ferry Corsten. The Dutchman changed it up once again with a release that explored his newfound interest in electro and his passion for keeping it fluid and melodious. “Rock Your Body, Rock” made it to the #11 spot in the U.K singles chart.
Constantly diversifying his music style is the driving force behind Corsten’s success. Unfortunately, diversity is what is lacking in today’s trance scene according to the Dutchman. Having said that, he also shares his frustrations on fans who find it hard to embrace change. “I really feel there is a lack of imagination these days. But, when you do something different you will also get hordes of people on social media slamming your work saying it isn’t trance,” he says.
“‘This isn’t 140 BPM’, ‘you’re a sell out’. This isn’t what the scene is all about. There was never a rule book. Who said that trance had to be 140 BPM with rolling basslines?” Corsten hopes that today’s trance artists will go back to the formula of making more emotional inspired tracks.
“The EDM type of trance lacks that a lot. It doesn’t have to sound exactly like classic trance tunes, it just needs more intensity. The melodies can be longer instead of making a few notes followed by that typical “Put your fucking hands up” chant,” he laughs.
In order to progress, Corsten says that we’ve got to stop making comparisons between the scene today and what happened back then. “I was listening to some of my old sets like Live at Trance Energy 2000 no man, it wasn’t as melodic as people claim it to be. I was playing fucking rave. It was straight up banging stuff. It wasn’t as pretty as we think it is now.”
Ferry Corsten host “Ferry’s Fix,” a monthly DJ mix that is currently aired on more than 37 radio stations worldwide including Insomniafm.