Active since the early '90s, Dutch DJ/producer Ferry Corsten is one of the most prolific and commercially successful trance artists. His biggest hits helped set the standard for the euphoric, melodically rich trance sound that was highly popular during the late '90s and early 2000s, and his sound continued to evolve, embracing electro, pop, and even hip-hop. Including collaborative projects, Corsten has released music under dozens of monikers, with System F and Gouryella (initially a collaboration with fellow Dutch trance heavyweight Tiësto) making the biggest impact. However, since the mid-2000s, the majority of his output has been released under his given name. He's released dozens of DJ mix albums, including several volumes of the Trance Nation and Once Upon a Night series, on labels such as Ultra, Ministry of Sound, and Moonshine. A regular at dance festivals such as Electric Daisy Carnival and Tomorrowland, he has toured the world extensively and performed on nearly every continent. He has won or received nominations for numerous DJ and producer awards, and often appears on DJ Magazine's annual Top 100 DJs poll. Corsten operates the Flashover Recordings label, and he hosts the popular Corsten's Countdown radio show.
Born in Rotterdam in 1973, Ferry Corsten got into dance music at an early age and started DJ'ing and making music as a teenager. Along with his friends John Matze, René de Ruyter, and Robert Smit, Corsten released a techno EP under the group name Spirit of Adventure in 1991. The project evolved into the Tellurians, and their sound became harder and darker, reflecting the hardcore techno scene that was becoming popular in their home city. As the decade progressed, he continued producing techno, acid, house, and hardcore tracks under names like Free Inside and A Jolly Good Fellow. In 1995, at the age of 21, he was the winner of the dance category of De Grote Prijs van Nederland, a prestigious award given to emerging Dutch musicians. In 1996, he released his debut full-length, Looking Forward, under the name Ferr. Issued by the Nutrition label, the album was an eclectic set of tracks ranging from Detroit-influenced techno to drum'n'bass and downtempo. He also released a novelty Christmas album, Santa's X-Mas Dance Party, under the name DJ Sno-White. Corsten also scored his first charting hit in 1996, when "Don't Be Afraid" (under the name Moonman) made the U.K. singles chart. Continuing to produce singles at a rapid pace, he scored another big hit in 1997 with "I'm in Love," an uplifting trance track co-produced with frequent collaborator Smit under the name Starparty. The two also started a label called Tsunami, as part of Dutch dance company Purple Eye Entertainment.
In 1998, Corsten's track "Air" (under the Albion moniker) was released by leading trance label Platipus. The soothing, summery tune became a staple of DJs like John Digweed and Paul Oakenfold, and was remixed several times. Corsten's popularity exploded in 1999, as trance was ruling dancefloors as well as the pop charts. Anthem "Out of the Blue," his first single under the System F moniker, was released in February, and became a massive hit, hitting the Top 20 of the U.K. singles chart. Corsten also had hits in collaboration with Tiësto (as Vimana and Gouryella), and Vincent de Moor (as Veracocha), and remixed popular trance tracks by Art of Trance, Matt Darey, and Cygnus X, as well as more mainstream artists like Faithless, Moby, and William Orbit (his version of Barber's "Adagio for Strings"). He also began releasing his first mix CDs, including the initial volumes of Trance Nation and Artist Profile Series 1: Solar Serenades for Tiësto's Black Hole Recordings. Corsten was named Producer of the Year by Muzik Magazine, and received another Dutch music award, the Zilveren Harp. The second System F single, "Cry," appeared in 2000, and was also a major hit. The project's full-length debut, Out of the Blue, arrived in 2001, containing the previous two hits as well as "Soul on Soul," a collaboration with Soft Cell's Marc Almond, and "Exhale," co-produced by Armin van Buuren. At the end of 2001, Tiësto confirmed rumors that he had left the Gouryella project, and Corsten continued using the name, releasing "Ligaya" (co-produced by John Ewbank) in 2002. Also that year, Corsten released "Punk," an electroclash-leaning single under his own name, which became a hit.
The second System F album, Together, was released by the Japanese label Avex Trax in early 2003. Right of Way, Corsten's first production album credited to his own name, appeared in late 2003. The album included "Punk" as well as an even bigger hit, "Rock Your Body Rock," and hit the Top Ten of the U.K. album chart. Continuing Corsten's string of mix CDs and compilations, Infinite Euphoria was released by Ministry of Sound in 2004. Corsten also released a double-CD mix celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Dance Valley festival. In 2005, Corsten left the Tsunami label and initiated Flashover Recordings. His first album for the label was 2006's L.E.F. ("Loud Electronic Ferocious"), a diverse set featuring guest appearances by Gang Starr's Guru, Howard Jones, and Duran Duran's Simon LeBon. The album's blend of styles led a website to refer to Corsten as the "King of Crossover." In 2007, Corsten started his popular radio show Corsten's Countdown, and performed the first Full on Ferry concert at Rotterdam's Ahoy Stadium. He also released a remix of Public Enemy's classic "Bring the Noise," furthering his crossover appeal.
In 2008, Corsten released Twice in a Blue Moon, a more reflective, less party-ready album inspired by his marriage and the birth of his daughter. A remix album followed in 2009, as Corsten took his Twice in a Blue Moon: The Experience tour across the globe. Corsten recorded a set for BBC Radio 1's weekly Essential Mix program in 2010. He also released Champions, a System F remix album, and started a new mix CD series called Once Upon a Night. Following more extensive touring, Corsten released the full-length WKND in 2012, including tracks with Aruna, Betsie Larkin, and van Buuren. He also launched a monthly mix show called Ferry's Fix, while still producing the weekly Corsten's Countdown. Corsten and Markus Schulz formed the duo New World Punx in 2013, debuting with the single "Romper." In 2015, Corsten released a series of Hello World EPs, eventually compiled as a full-length. He also released a new Gouryella single, "Anahera," which was easily the most successful trance track of the year, and he launched a worldwide Gouryella tour. The single "Neba" and full-length From the Heavens, containing updated versions of the older Gouryella tracks, appeared in 2016. Early in 2017, a Gouryella documentary, also titled From the Heavens, was premiered in Melbourne, Australia. A few months later, the Gouryella single "Venera (Vee's Theme)" was released as the first single from Corsten's Blueprint album, which appeared in May. ~ Paul Simpson