After getting a chance to sit down with Trance Hall of Famer Ferry Corsten at Dreamstate San Francisco, it made perfect sense to chat with him following Dreamstate SoCal. On November 24, Corsten revived his System F alias at the all-Trance event. The performance marked the 20th anniversary of the System F anthem ‘Out Of The Blue.’ To celebrate, Ferry chose Dreamstate to treat his fans to a legendary one-time show.
EDMTunes had the opportunity to speak with Ferry following the performance. We talked System F, who’s hot on Flashover Recordings, working with Ilan Bluestone on a UNITY collab, and what challenges he faced creating a movie score. Check it all out below.
1 Hello again, Ferry! We want to talk about your magical System F performance at Dreamstate SoCal. It’s been 20 years since System F ‘Out Of The Blue’ was first released. You could have picked anywhere in the world for this performance – why pick the Dreamstate event in the United States?
Well Dreamstate, as you know, is THE Trance event in the U.S, and Southern California is probably my largest market in the U.S. (Los Angeles and surrounding cities). It was also one of the first markets where I felt them really embracing my sound [in the United States]. Most of all it was right in November, right when ‘Out Of The Blue’ was released 20 years ago. It was a big wish from Dreamstate, who had been asking me actually since the Gouryella days. They asked me “Hey, do you wanna do System F as well?” And I thought “Ahhh…do I really only want to bring my old projects?” I was a bit hesitant. But when I saw the dates of the festival and how [the release of] ‘Out Of The Blue’ lined up, I realized it was the perfect time.
2 You were the only one at the festival that had the massive, elevated stage. What exactly went into the thought process there?
You know, man…it’s 20 years of System F. Dreamstate wants us to be there. I didn’t just want to step into the same booth and have the same lights like everyone else. We wanted to give the performance that “Oh my God” feeling, by dropping that curtain, then revealing the lifted stage. It had to be something special.
3 Can you describe that feeling when that massive (150 feet by 120 feet, at least) “F” curtain dropped and it was just you and the festival?
Honestly, at first, I was like “Holy s***…this is high!” (spoken with laughter). Although I saw the crowd earlier, when I climbed the riser that led up to the stage, that curtain was down already. I had seen it all, but when you actually got up there, then the curtain drops and you are looking out into that sea of people, I was like “Whoaaaa.” Big impact for me, for sure.
But then something else hit me, perhaps a bit of doubt. I know a lot of these people will know ‘Out Of The Blue.” But how many people know “Needlejuice” or any of those tracks from my first album in 2002? It’s a younger crowd. But to my surprise, the response was amazing for all these tracks – I guess people really did know them. Even though they were younger, they still felt that sense of nostalgia, you know? That was very cool.
4 This was all mixed and performed live. Did you change anything to these tracks, or play them in their original form?
What I did do for this show is reproduce all the tracks, just to update the sound to today. You know, most of those tracks are 18, 19 years old. If you listen to the original recordings, it shows the age simply because of the technology. To make that set stand up against John O’Callaghan, against Gareth [Emery], those guys who are playing tracks produced today, I had to revisit those tracks to make them sound a lot tighter, a lot snappier, cleaner – just as if they were produced today.
5 So in looking at the different sound, what is the biggest difference between a System F production and a Ferry Corsten production?
Well, a Ferry Corsten production…if you go back and listen to the System F Out Of The Blue album, you can actually hear the early Ferry Corsten sound in there. What you have to understand is at that time, it wasn’t “cool” to use your own Dutch name as your stage name – that was a no-go. So I came up with the System F name, along with many other names, that I could produce different types of music. At the time, it was very normal to have these different sorts of monickers.
But then, as Ferry Corsten, I started diving into that kind of electro sound a little, like ‘Punk,’ ‘Rock Your Body, Rock,’ those types of tracks. But the early System F you can kind of hear has that vibe already, like ‘Soul On Soul‘ with Marc Almond. But as Ferry Corsten, I go deeper into that. I allow myself a lot more freedom. I could make a techno track or an EDM track as Ferry Corsten – it’s just wide open space. System F is definitely more trancey, and a bit more, almost to say, “party” trance. That’s how I look at it. Then you look at Gouryella, which is more spacey, almost on the spiritual tip. You won’t really hear that from System F.
6 So was this performance a one-time deal, or will we be seeing more System F in the near future?
Well, it definitely was a one-time deal for now – but since Dreamstate the phone has been ringing a lot. I gotta see, though, because if I say yes, then all of a sudden people are demanding new System F tracks, and I don’t know if I wanna go there. We’ll see – might keep it open.
7 Changing gears, we know you have a big release coming out as part of your UNITY project with Ilan Bluestone called ‘We’re Not Going Home.’ What was it like working with Ilan, and what can we expect from that track?
Great, so great working with Ilan. We’ve been buddies now for a long time, and it’s always fun to connect with him. I’m sure you’ve seen some of his social media, Instagram live stories where we’re just hanging out and goofing around. And that same thing is what happened in the studio. Nothing too serious, but serious enough to make something we are both happy with. He came in with his Ilan/Anjuna-type of sound and mindset but really wanting something like the typical Ferry sound. For me, it was the opposite – I went in with my sound but wanting something Ilan Bluestoney, you know? (laughs) We were just looking for both of each other’s strengths, and I think that resulted in a sort of funky, cool, “in your face” type of track. I’m really happy with it.
8 You also just recently finished up the movie score and soundtrack for the film “Don’t Go.” What was the most challenging part of working specifically for a movie and what goes into that whole process?
You know, it’s really interesting – that whole project came to light because of Blueprint. That album sort of landed on the desk of the movie director, David Gleeson. He reached out asking for me to do one or two scenes for him. So we had a creative talk to figure out what he wanted, orchestral or electronic, and we found the type of sound he was looking for.
So I went to work. I sent him three or four ideas I was working with. Then he calls me back and was like “Do you want to do the whole score? This is right on the money.” It’s not anything within the dance scene, strictly movie stuff. It was really my first time to write and compose anything to an existing story. Blueprint technically was a story, but no picture. It was made for you to create the own picture in your head. This, the opposite. The picture was already there but needed music according to a storyline. The most challenging thing was lining up those cues, that perfect timing. Matching a character’s internal emotion with an external piece of music. I really learned a lot through the whole process.
9 You mentioned at Dreamstate SF some more UNITY collaboration names – any update on the next release?
No update on when the next one will be just yet. BT is involved. You know, Gabriel & Dresden. Markus [Schulz], is obviously coming up. Talking to Arty. Talking to Gareth [Emery]. Arty is definitely going to happen. Just trying to find the right timing with Gareth. Originally it [UNITY] was only going to be a project for this year, but it looks like we will keep going with it. It’s always great to do these collabs. With Arty, it’s like we’ve been both nodding our heads to the music and both wanna dance, but just can’t find the space on the dance floor yet. (laughs)
10 Alright, quick hitters – give us one name signed to Flashover Recordings that the fans need to know about.
I really need to say Dim3ension. He’s been with us for a little while. Just a very talented, open-minded producer from Spain that knows how to make a tech-trance track as well as he can make almost a Gouryella-style uplifting track. He’s definitely a guy to look out for. He’s very talented and super hungry.
11 Corsten’s Countdown 600 is right around the corner – anything big planned?
You know, we thought about it, but there have just been too many big things going on this year. Between System F, UNITY, building a house (personal life insight) – too much to really provide an 8-hour monster set. Won’t be too flashy, but expect big things from 650.
12 Last one – give us one sentence to describe what to expect from Ferry Corsten next year (2019).
Lots of fire.
Boom. With a sell like that, we cannot wait to see what Ferry has in store for us in the coming year. However, we sincerely want to thank him and his team for taking the time to reflect on the year that was! Always professional and pushing the envelope seems to be what drives this trance machine to greater heights, metaphorically and (as seen from his high-rise booth) literally.
Ferry is currently in the midst of an ongoing tour and will be hitting major cities all over the world this month. On January 25th, he is set to make his return to New York to perform at Brooklyn’s Schimanski for what will be an incredible night of trance music. Tickets are still available so be sure to grab your tickets here now before they sell out!
Below is a live video we caught of System F ‘Out Of The Blue’ live from Dreamstate SoCal – enjoy!