ClubPlanet Interview: FERGIE DJ
In keeping with the Irish feel to the day, we decided that we'd play homage to our Guinness drinking, leprechaun lovin', shamrock sharin' friends across the water and speak to everyone's favorite DJ from around that neck of the woods, Fergie DJ, in an exclusive, all access interview.
Okay, so Fergie isn't actually from Ireland. He's from Northern Ireland, which is a separate country, and it's a HUGE deal if you get that wrong. It's worse than mistaking an American for a Canadian, but, for us here at Clubplanet HQ, it's close enough and we'll take any excuse to go and drink a Green Beer. We're also pretty sure that Fergie himself will be taking part in the St. Patrick's Day activities going on in Las Vegas today, where he holds his Hakkasan and Wet Republic residencies.
Before we begin, however, for those of you here in the U.S. who may not have heard of him, or knew his history, here are a few Fun Fergie Facts to get you up to speed:-
He has featured in the "DJ Mag Top 100 DJs" poll 7 years in a row (between 2000 and 2006) and currently holds the record for the highest new entry since the poll began, achieved when he was voted 8th in 2000.
He was the youngest ever Radio1 presenter.
He was the first resident Essential Mix DJ along side Carl Cox
He had his own BBC Radio 1 show for 5 years that championed fresh underground sounds to millions of listeners each week.
His thirteen Radio One Essential Mixes makes him one of the most featured DJs of the station’s ten-year history.
He won a charity superstar DJ competition, which was broadcast live on Radio One, beating people like Fatboy Slim, Carl Cox and Darren Emerson.
He was the headlining resident for the world famous Godskitchen in Ibiza
He played over 180 shows last year across the world, making him one of the world’s busiest DJs.
He played his first set at 14 years old and had to stand on a milk crate to reach the decks.
He has had over 38 tracks released, 27 remixes, seven DJ mix albums, four magazine cover CDs, and one artist album, which won the IDMA Best Album 2011
He was a monthly guest columnist for Mixmag
Although he has been DJing at the highest level for over 20 years, he’s STILL only 34 years old!
For all lovers of dance music who live outside the U.S., the name Fergie can mean only one thing and it has nothing to do with the Black Eyed Peas. As a key figure in the European electronic dance music circuit for over 20 years, Fergie has done more in his career that most active DJs on today’s scene. Oh, and he’s still only 34 years old. We caught up with him in Las Vegas and spoke to him about his new life in America, his Arcadia parties at Hakkasan and why he has to put DJ after his name.
CP: Okay Fergie, let’s get right into it. How long will it take before the U.S. electronic dance music crowd realizes that you’re not just some guy who named himself after a singer, learned how to use Traktor and got lucky with a Vegas residency?
FDJ: Haha! You know what? It’s so funny that the whole Fergie thing is still something that confuses people. I just played a festival in Texas and they didn’t put the DJ after Fergie and so many people were getting excited and thinking the girl from the Black Eyed Peas was playing. They were all so disappointed when they found out it was me. People were asking who the hell would be stupid enough call themselves Fergie knowing that there was already another performer with the same name.
CP: How do you handle questions like that?
FDJ: Well, first of all, I never picked the name Fergie. I actually had an even more stupid name! When I started DJing all those years ago, I wanted to be called DJ Destruction but people would refuse to call me it and always said they were going to see Fergie. I’m now very glad I took their advice! In all seriousness, I tell people to do a little bit of research on me. All the information is there. When you see my name on the flyer, search for me online and you’ll find out everything you need to know.
CP: Was moving to the U.S. from the UK an easy decision to make?
FDJ: In a word, YES! It’s such a contrast to now when I first started coming and playing in America in 1998 back when I was 18. It was a very hard country to play in as a DJ then as the clubs never played dance music like they did in Europe. Now, the U.S. is the biggest market in the world for it. The decision to come here was a no brainer.
CP: You’ve changed your styles throughout your career. Do you enjoy experimenting with your sound?
FDJ: As a DJ you should try your hand at many different styles. Don’t get me wrong, there are many successful artists out there, some of whom I’m very good friends with, who stick to what they’ve been playing for their whole careers. That’s fine and good on them, but for me, I’ve always wanted to try different things. That’s what I’ve gone through what feels like three different careers in my time as a DJ.
CP: Can you explain what you mean by that?
FDJ: What people don’t understand is that every time you try something new, you have to start at the bottom again. You don’t just start where you left off and jump in to the new audience or expect to be accepted by them, nor do you expect your fans to follow you. It’s like going through a new identity. That’s what I’m experiencing here in the U.S. I look at the crowd here as a new beginning as they don’t know me like the rest of the world as the scene is very new to most of them.
CP: How have the clubbers reacted to you?
FDJ: Well I hope they like me!! Haha! Seriously, they’ve been great. The people who come to the clubs are so into the music and love everything that’s going on with it. They want to wear the t-shirts with the DJ’s name on them and they’re all into the way of life that comes with clubbing. For me, as a DJ, this has always been my life. I’ve done nothing else since I was 14. To see the crowds having the time of their lives in front of me is amazing and I love being part of it all.
CP: You call your parties Arcadia and host podcast’s under the same name. What was the thinking behind that?
FDJ: I wanted to make the Arcadia parties as random as possible and try to recreate the crazy, mad vibe that I experienced at the kind of clubs I used to play where people would turn up to the gig dressed as a suitcase. In the first year of Arcadia we had the little people dancing on the decks, fire grinders, stilt walkers interacting with the crowd, making the crowd part of the show and it was great. However we are taking the show to a global market, to places like Macau, Seoul, OZ etc so we have been focusing more on the building the most incredible visuals. As well as that, I will be using advanced technology that allows me to really engage with the crowd, they can see up close what I am doing at the decks and I can use the equipment to feed the crowd 'live' into the actual visuals. We tried it out for the first time at Hakkasan and it just blew me away, unbelievable...I can't wait to take it on the road!
CP: And your Arcadia podcast is getting well received too?
FDJ: Yeah, I’m having fun with that. I play everything from the new sounds that are getting release to some of my old favorites. My main goal is to make sure that anyone who listen has as much fun listening to it as I do making it.
CP: Any plans for touring this year?
FDJ: I have a new residency in Korea at the new Vanguard Club, I have been playing Korea for years so it’s nice to finally have a home, I will also be doing some Arcadia parties in China, Hong Kong as well as Thailand and I will go back to Ibiza for the first time in two years. I used to play there every week from 1998 to 2011 so I have a long history with the White Isle and many memories are there. I would say I also left plenty of brain cells there so I may go find them! Okay, let’s be honest I will probably go lose some more!
CP: What was it like to see your image on the side of the MGM Grand when you first joined Hakkasan?
FDJ: I tell you what, nothing can prepare you for that. As a DJ, you see your face on flyers and billboards across the world and it never gets old. Any artist who says they don’t get a huge grin on their face when they see something like that needs to take a rain check because it’s an amazing thing. In the case of me being on the side of the MGM, it was one of the highlights of my career. It affected me differently than it has before.
CP: How so?
FDJ: Well it’s the history of the city, the dance music scene and me as a DJ all in one. Look, I’ve played across the world at some of the biggest events in the history of the scene. I played the Berlin Love Parade, Dance Valley and festivals like Creamfields and Glastonbury as well a huge event in Buenos Aries with Moby. Seeing the image of myself on the Las Vegas strip topped it all off. It took me back to being 14 years old my bedroom in Larne (Fergie’s Northern Ireland home growing up) and reminded me of everything I’ve done in the past 20 years. It was a great moment.
CP: What do you think of the “EDM” sound that’s taken over the country?
FDJ: I love it because it’s so similar to the hard house sound I played when I was starting out which is great from me. Granted it’s slower, but it’s also similar in the ways that it’s reaching out to a larger demographic of people who would never usually listen to dance music and that’s only a good thing. The best thing about this “EDM” sound, if you want to call it that, is that it’s open to change. There’s so much you can do with it which stops people getting bored with it.
CP: And that can only be a good thing for the scene?
FDJ: Of course. People are excited about the music and the whole dance music scene in general. They want a lot more. They are constantly searching the internet for new acts and new sounds. That was never the case before. You never had all this choice. I love it. I seriously mean that. I think it’s amazing that all of this is happening.
CP: Do you prefer to be behind the decks or in the studio?
FDJ: Just now I’m really enjoying DJing. For years I was spending all my time in the studio and making my own techno tracks so I could play them out. The reason for that is because a lot of the techno around was too serious for me. The music that I made under my Excentric label had my own input like euphoric touches and a little bit more upbeat, something people associated with me as a person and artist.
CP: What changed?
FDJ Well I’m having so much fun finding great music to play that I don’t need to do that. My sets never stay the same and I spend my time finding great tracks to play every week. When the time comes when I can’t find good music, I’ll go back into the studio but just now, I’m enjoying trolling the internet and finding all the great music out there.
CP: And finally, what does the future hold for Fergie DJ?
FDJ: At the end of the day, no matter what sort of job you do, you want to be the best at it. That’s always been the same for me. Just now, my goal as an artist is to show the U.S. audience that one day, I didn’t fall out of bed and landed on my feet as a DJ. My goals have never changed for me as a DJ. I just want to be the best at what I do and reach as many people as I can. We’ve all established that the U.S. is the market where I’m less known so that’s why I’m here. I want to change that. I want to show the U.S. dance music crowd what I can do, and have been doing for the past 20 years. And of course, we’ll be having fun along the way!
You can catch Fergie DJ’s Arcadia parties at Hakkasan at MGM Grand and see him HQ in Atlantic City.
Check out FERGIE DJ's ClubPlanet Radio Show:
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