Dennis Ferrer on Commercial EDM: "They See an Easy Customer Who Wants It Fast & Cheap"
From Deadmau5 pissing off pretty much everyone with his hateful and decidedly hypocritical rants, to a clueless Paris Hilton jumping on the DJ bandwagon and crowning herself the new queen of house with disastrous results ...
Hard-working DJs across the underground scene are starting to feel like their precious subculture is getting crapped on by sell-outs and attention whores.
Of course, DJ-producer Dennis Ferrer has plenty to say about it, as you'll find out in this candid interview ahead of his gig at Space Miami on Saturday.
Crossfade: What's been going on with you this year? Any personal highlights so far?
Dennis Ferrer: I've been on a hectic touring schedule. At the same time, [I've been] re-educating myself musically and production-wise. Highlight of the year so far was playing at Ushuaia for Luciano's party and playing some of the Sensation parties I've been honored to play at.
What can we expect from you in the studio next? Any forthcoming projects or releases?
I've been hard at work, experimenting with several tracks. But nothing that I'm comfortable with yet. I prefer to not do something than release a bad record. I've got way too much of a presence of mind to even begin to believe my own hype. Self-restraint is so often a forgotten artform by most producers who believe in putting everything out they've put their dirty mitts on. [Laughs]
Lately, there's been a lot of beef and open bickering online between representatives of the so-called underground house scene, like DJ Sneak and Mr. C, versus commercial EDM superstars like Deadmau5 and Swedish House Mafia. What is your take on the situation? What are your personal complaints about the current state of dance music?
Good publicity -- that's all it means. Commercial EDM to me is Cheez Whiz. That's just me. Don't get me wrong, I respect it. It's music and art, and the funny thing is it's not exactly that easy to make, believe it or not. But I don't eat Cheez Whiz. I like real food. Stuff that's got taste and comes in classy flavors. Yet if all you've been shown is McDonald's and never had proper sushi ... Well, I can't blame you for your lack of knowledge, right?
Well, the people, corporate structure, labels, R&B artists, and clubs are all in collusion as a McDonald's, and they all want a piece of the franchise action. They see an easy customer who just wants it fast, cheap and easy. They're not interested in educating. So that's why you have us and you have them. It's always been that way.
I don't have to complain because these are the rules that have always existed. It is why the underground is a very unforgiving place and it's the reason why most of them can try all they want to to come back, especially after they blow all their cash. [Laughs] But as numerous have-been major artists, producers, and DJs will attest, it's an even harder and sorrow-filled road to travel.
Back in 2010, Pete Tong described your big hit "Hey Hey" as "a return to the finest virtues of house music." What are the finest virtues of house to you? Is house music something that is continuing to evolve? Or is it just that classic '90s sound that everyone is nostalgic about right now?
Finest virtues of house? I believe he meant a song -- a damn catchy song. Everyone's got their artist's heads so far up their own asses that they forget the main thing to writing a song is exactly just that: write a song -- a catchy one -- not a track, not drums, not an instrumental. A damn song! A song with a bit of intelligence to it, instead of the morbidity that passes for songs nowadays. It was, I suppose, a breath of fresh air at the right time.
How do industry accolades like your Grammy nomination sit with you, when compared to the other rewards of your art and career? Are awards and record sales the benchmarks of success? Or do you derive greater satisfaction from making and playing the music itself?
The life I live today is the benchmark of my success. I've been able to do what I love to do for a very long time now. Accolades mean nothing if you can't do what you love to do. My Grammy nomination belongs to everyone who's supported me, not I. Because without them spending their hard-earned money on my releases, then I wouldn't have had the attention drawn to my work. The general public, my fans -- they are my reward.
What can Miami expect during your set at Space? We hope you cleared it up with management that you'll be doing your thing, so there's no Mansion-style mid-set surprise, right?
You can expect Dennis Ferrer. [Laughs] If you didn't know who I was before that night, I will attempt to make sure you enjoy your time there. Whether you like it or not, that will be up to you! I just thank you for the opportunity.
Dennis Ferrer. Saturday, August 18. Space, 34 NE 11th St., Miami. The party starts at 10 p.m. Call 305-375-0001 or visit clubspace.com.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Miami, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.