Last year, DJ/producer Ferry Corsten announced the return of uplifting project Gouryella with “Anahera” and took the #trancefamily by surprise. Pleasantly surprised, at that! The comeback (after a 13-year hiatus) garnered so much positive response that it didn’t take long for him to bring Gouryella from the studio to the stage for a series of exclusive debut live shows.
It’s safe to say that 2016 has indeed been a whirlwind ride for the Dutch electronic dance music pioneer, and the year isn’t even over yet! We caught up with him right before his Zouk Club Kuala Lumpur set last week.
Here’s what went down:
Hi Ferry! Welcome back to Malaysia. You haven’t been back in a while. What’s been happening?
Yeah, I haven’t been back in Zouk Club Kuala Lumpur in ages. I played a lot of other things..festivals, It’s The Ship 2015, I did Penang as well at MOIS. I’ve been busy with lotsa happy stuff! Just this year, I brought back Gouryella after more than a decade.
Thank you for bringing back Gouryella, by the way! Can you tell us what made you decide to do so?
I really felt after years of..I mean, I’ve always shifted my sound. It was very trancey, then it was more electro, then it was very trancey, and then it was very housey..I did EDM a little bit at the beginning of that. That’s how I work, you know, I see another genre come up and I try to shop around within that genre a little bit for certain elements and bring that into trance. Just to keep the wheel going, right? Because if you keep doing the same thing, it gets tired. In 2005, I did a bit of electro, then trance became really electro-y, a bit more aggressive in a way. I tried to do the same with EDM and I got really tired of it..very quickly..
Yeah, right? Because it’s always just, “1, 2, 3, 4, everybody f*cking jump!”
Yeah. I like the drop part where there’s a big build up and then all that comes after is a really hard kickdrum with a bass. I like those elements and the hard snare drums from big room. But eventually everyone started sounding the same. So in bringing back Gouryella..I could post anything like the most random of things on social media, and people will always be like, “When will there be another Gouryella?”..for years. And I was like, wow that’s still a thing, it’s still alive with the die-hard trance fans. I wanted to go back to the stuff that I really loved..that trance from the turn of the century. That sound. It has been on my mind for about 5 or 6 years but my head was just in a whole different space you know, doing the electro thing, doing the EDM type of stuff..just not the proper trance stuff so it was hard to come up with a melody for Gouryella. Gouryella is not just another trance melody. It’s a certain chord progression and a top line melody..it’s a combination of that which gives Gouryella its signature sound. I couldn’t find it all those years until last year when I made “Anahera”. I knew immediately that it has to be Gouryella. It was just the right time for it.
What was the response from the Gouryella tour like?
The response was really good! Initially, I didn’t want to do that. I brought Gouryella back after an absence of 13 years so the expectation for the next Gouryella would’ve been through the roof. I only wanted to release it when I was absolutely sure that it would be able to live up to that expectation. When “Anahera” came out, the response was just way, way, way bigger than I expected. I was like, “Okay, this is great. But let’s not f*ck it up by doing something that will destroy it straightaway.” If you have done something that is almost perfect, the best thing to do is to leave it alone because then it will stay perfect. The more you touch it, the more you play with it, the bigger the chances of errors are. I didn’t want to do anything live or whatever, you know, but a lot of promoters around the world were like, “Do you want to do something with Gouryella? Since you brought it back, do you want to do something live?” So I decided to come up with a show that was like a story and shows what Gouryella is. And the response was amazing.
Out of curiosity, has Tiesto said anything to you since you revived Gouryella?
No, I mean..he said bye to the project after the 3rd release and never wanted to have anything to do with it after. The 4th release, I did by myself and then I gave it a break. And then when I brought it back with “Anahera”, I didn’t even contact Tiesto because I know where he is, he doesn’t care. He has got a different thing going on.
You are System F, you are Ferry Corsten, and Gouryella, and New World Punx, and then there’s Corsten’s Countdown and Full On Ferry. And you’re also a dad. Where do you find the time to do it all?
Not everything is at the same time. System F is something that I did..I did one show last year in Agefarre, Japan because Agefarre teamed up with Velfarre which was the club owned by Avex Records who used to release System F at that time. I played in Velfarre so often as System F so when they asked me, “We’re doing this anniversary thing for Velfarre, would you do a System F set?” For that reason I said okay let’s do it. But that doesn’t mean that I’m doing anything with System F..I don’t know if that’s ever going to get another live show..
You might never know because, Gouryella..
Gouryella also came back to life, I know! So never say never, yeah. I’m always like that, never say never. New World Punx and Markus, I mean, it’s still active but it’s not on both of our priority lists right now. I did Gouryella this year, he’s working on a new Dakota album, and I’m working on the next project for next year. So if we stumble across something that could be the next New World Punx single, and we have a few gigs here and there, that’s okay. But it’s not on our priority lists. The rest of what I do is just juggling, really. I’m here, and there, and there, and then fly back to my kids. I was in Manila and Delhi last weekend then I went home for 3 days, and now I’m here. I make sure that I make just enough time.
And you’ve been doing this for decades! What would you say are some of the biggest job hazards?
It’s a lifestyle, yeah. I started DJing on this level since 1999 or 2000..it has been a long time. Biggest job hazards would be..definitely not being around with family or friends whenever required. It’s almost a norm. New Year’s Eve, for example, I’m never there..I’m always playing a show somewhere. Christmas, I mean, I’m lucky if I’m there on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. By Boxing Day, I’m gone. There’s always a show somewhere. But it’s compensating in a way as well because by doing what I do, I also have the freedom to say yes or no to certain things. If I want to be with my kids that weekend then I can decide so.
How has 2016 treated you so far and looking back, what would you say were some of your best memories of the year?
Mmm. I have a tonne of great memories with my son, Seb, who is 2 years old now. He had a bit of a rough year at first, the first year was pretty hard. He doesn’t understand what I do yet but he gets the idea of me going to the airport..it means I’ll be gone for a few days. But he had such an amazing year so I have a lot of great memories of that. On the business side of things, Gouryella..yeah. To bring it back is one thing and just to live with it in such a way that I’ve been doing, you know, creating the show..it has been very, very cool.
And what can we expect from Ferry Corsten next year?
I’m working on a new project – a new album. There’s a lot going on for that than what I actually can tell you right now because there are a lot of ideas for this that haven’t even been realised yet. But wait and see!
Special thanks to our friends from Zouk Club Kuala Lumpur for making this happen.