A lot has happened since we last caught up with Ferry Corsten back in 2019 — the focus then was his UNITY project, Gouryella, and film scoring; now, we dived into his new What The F tour as it finally launches after being postponed from 2020. Read on to learn more about the concept, how he selects and repurposes older tracks, and what’s next.
You recently kicked off the tour at Ministry of Sound, followed by a few US dates. And these are open-to-close sets. How has the reaction been?
■ [This tour] is a copy of how we were planning it in 2020 and it has been amazing. I could guess how Ministry of Sound would be; if you know how Ministry of Sound works, it’s a big club with different rooms — the club opens at 11pm but the main room is closed until midnight. They let the club fill up so when they open the main room, the crowd pours in and it’s a full house in like five minutes. In the US, I’m not used to starting when doors open since there’s usually a warmup DJ and I play later in the night when the clubs fill up, but there was a line around the block when I got to the places and people flooded in as doors opened and it was an amazing response.
That’s incredible. Let’s talk about the What The F concept itself for a second. You’ll be playing all these tracks from your different aliases. How do you select what you’ll be playing?
■ The whole point of What The F is that it stems from me having done a few producer sets over the years and always getting an amazing response. On the other hand, people are asking why I don’t do open-to-close sets. I feel honestly doing an open-to-close is almost like Markus Schulz’s thing and I don’t want to do the same thing so I gave it my own spin. I’ve made so much music over the last two decades, I can easily fill six, seven, eight hours with it.
Over the last few years, I’ve done shows under Gouryella and System F at places like Dreamstate and EDC and ultimately it’s all part of Ferry Corsten. Instead of playing those things in blocks, what if I just put it together in one massive journey from my latest single all the way down to the biggest classics from 20 years ago? And how can I make that work into something that doesn’t feel awkward and is just one trip? The selection process was kind of hard at first. I had to go through 20 years of music and then I had to find the tracks I can still play today that will work. From there, I had 15 hours of music and had to narrow it down to nine or eight hours. Every track for me has a personal memory. Aside from deciding if something is relevant, do I want to play chronologically or by BPM or is there a bit of a diversion there? It was a bit of a puzzle and took me a while to really figure out, but I’m really pleased with where it is now.
Did you decide to play chronologically?
■ No. I thought it was cool — for example — to hear a track that I released last week go really well with something that’s 17 years old. I think that is the beauty of music coming from the same mind where it works and overlaps and also has differences in a way. I thought that’s what the crowd should experience.
What are a few of your favorite tracks that you’ve dug out?
■ There’s one track I rediscovered again from one of my older albums called “We Belong” and that track was based on an old Italo record: Fun Fun – Happy Station. Playing that again… it still sounds very fresh and super cool; there’s a lot of 80s Italo stuff going on at the moment.
Another one I sample, 808 State – Cubik, is a big UK act from the early 90s and I sampled that for a specific sound they used and now playing that again… it has such a drive and I’m like, “Wow, I can’t believe I haven’t played this in a long time.” The problem is you’re always pushed by your fans to play the same stuff. I play [“Gouryella,” “Out of the Blue,” “Fire”] all the time but these are the ones I haven’t played in who knows how long and it’s so cool to have those again in the set.
Aside from this tour, are you working on anything else or is this your main focus?
■ Right now [What The F] is the biggest focus. It’s not just playing the music — a lot of the tracks I kind of revamped without them losing their charm from back in the day. Besides that, I’ve been doing a lot of mashups of all these tracks. I’m still working on stuff and the show is progressing as I roll it out. There will be new Ferry Corsten singles which will probably be incorporated into the show as well; maybe an album at some point. There’s plenty to keep myself busy with.
Have you recorded any of the sets?
■ I haven’t yet so be there. We will have snippets up soon because I want people to see what it’s all about.