» News and Features » Skiddle Mix: Exclusive 60 minute mix and interview with DJ Fergie
Skiddle Mix: Exclusive 60 minute mix and interview with DJ Fergie
The award-winning DJ shares his exclusive Skiddle Mix, plus stories about his new life out in Las Vegas and how he dealt with his meteoric rise to fame over twenty years ago
Last updated: 5th Oct 2021
Veteran fans of dance music should be no stranger to Fergie. Originally from Larne, Northern Ireland, Fergie, real name Robert Ferguson, first took to the decks at the tender age of just fourteen years old, blissfully unaware that he would later become one of the world's biggest and most sought-after producers and selectors.
His almost overnight ascent from obscurity to world-renowned superstar DJ - one of the first names to be coined a superstar of the electronic music world - still beggars belief today, and his CV of achievements... Well. Just take a look for yourself...
From holding the record for the highest new entry on the DJ MAG Top 100 since the poll began, a record he's held for twenty-one years, and presenting his own show on BBC Radio 1 for four years, to managing his own record label, winning multiple awards and holding residencies in superclubs across Ibiza and Vegas - Here's an artist that's basically done it all and got all the T-shirt's to prove it. So you can imagine our excitement upon hearing he'd agreed to have a chat with us AND create us a one-off, exclusive Skiddle mix!
Continue reading to learn more about the ever-popular DJs story and listen to his special Skiddle mix below...
(Click or tap on artist, event and venue names below for tickets and more...)
Let's start by talking about this mix you've put together for us. Can you talk us through the vibe you were going for with it?
Ferdie: "Hey thank you for having me. This mix is really what I'm personally feeling at the moment. I've been playing a few different styles, from organic house to melodic techno and of course, some harder stuff thrown in there for good measure. This mix is a good reflection of my eclectic style, my desire to tell a story through a musical journey and most importantly, to keep people entranced on the dance floor... I hope you enjoy it."
We’ve read recently that you’re making a comeback-of-sorts as a techno DJ. Yet to us, you’re known equally for techno as you are trance and even hard-house. How would you define your own sound?
Fergie: "It feels funny and exciting to hear it in those words. My sound has constantly changed throughout the years. In fact, I was recently reading some interviews with Andrew Weatherall where he talks about 'genres being the enemy'. I resonated with what he was saying at first but as I thought about it a little more, I realized that to me, genres aren't the enemy at all. Genres can be good; it's people feeling the need to categorize acts, it helps fans discover new music and of course helps with the overall organization and legitimization of our scene.
"As you've already mentioned, I've played a few different styles over the years and I’ve had equally as much fun with them all. At this point in my career, it's really about me bringing all the above influences along with some new-found styles into one set and one journey. Over the years I’ve felt such pressure to stick to this or that style, but ultimately I'm a music lover and a DJ that really loves to work different records together that may not be traditionally be heard in the same set. I enjoy the challenge of pulling off a mixed and eclectic set, and as a DJ, I feel it's where I really learn and have the opportunity to show my craft.
"It's nice to have lived a few lives in the game and to come back now with all the ammo I’ve amassed over the years, I really feel I have something to say and all the tools to express myself."
The US crowds are known for being quite conservative in their tastes and after spending a while living and DJing in Vegas, have you had to adapt your style out there at all? Has that been a challenge?
Fergie: "The dynamic was different when I first came to Vegas as the scene was very EDM heavy. I really had to think about how I programmed a set and how I would read the room. The audience demographic is very diverse in Vegas so the challenge was to get the whole crowd into the 'one buzz' at the same time. It's also always been a goal of mine to take audiences on a journey and introduce them to new sounds they perhaps might have never been exposed to before.
"We're now experiencing some amazing nights here, as the desire for house and techno continues to grow. It has been a huge pleasure to see the change happen over the years. Not to take anything away from EDM. The genre has played a huge role in the growth of house and techno, laying the groundwork for electronic music exposure to a larger audience. It's been so enjoyable to witness and participate in the evolution of the electronic dance scene here in Vegas.
"Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to be on lineups with the likes of Damian Lazarus, Black Coffee and Rufus du Sol, and it really warms my heart to see the new younger generation embrace the more 'underground' flavours."
How conscious do you feel a good DJ is about the environment they’re playing in?
Fergie: "I think a good DJ is extremely conscious of the environment they're playing in. Taking into consideration the setting, timing and determining the mood of the audience is just as important as the music selection itself. This is something I've felt I've always been in touch with, but following the move out here and after spending some years in Vegas, I've managed to build further on this knowledge and have learned to read a room a lot better than I ever could."
Would you ever leave Vegas? And if so, where would you go?
Fergie: "Yeah sure, my wife and I are very free and always open to exciting new beginnings and travelling. There is nothing too scary or too far that would put us off if we caught a buzz for an idea (never say never). For now, we're enjoying Vegas as the house/techno scene here has grown massively, and the desire for more underground flavours since the return to live events post-covid has more than quadrupled. It’s a beautiful thing."
Outside of the US, where really inspires you then? Where are your favourite dance floors in the world?
Fergie: "You know, I always go back to Ibiza. There is no place like it on earth... it really has everything for me; the music, the history, the free-spirited vibe, the restaurants and just the overall feel of the island. I’ve actually always wanted to live in Ibiza so you never know, that could be my next destination!"
Do you ever get out dancing as a clubber these days? Or has that side of things lost its allure as you’ve got older?
Fergie: "Great question - for years I wasn’t much of a clubber but since we’ve been able to go back to events and nightlife, I have not been away from the dance floor. Yes, that's where I’m most happy now, aside from the DJ booth. I never thought I would say that but here we are! After becoming sober and with all the great music being produced these days, all I think about is just losing myself in the music. Can I dance you ask? Well... I enjoy myself at least..."
How do you look back on your early days? You achieved so much so young, but is there anything you would change about those days if you could?
Fergie: "I don't live with regret or think back on those times as having made any bad decisions. I had to make some tough choices and at the time, they were right for me. I think we could all perhaps look back and say ‘I wish I did this or that’ but we forget the landscape wasn’t what it is now. Hindsight is 20/20 and back then I lived for the moment. I was a kid living in a dreamland. I made decisions based on the knowledge that I had then and I'd do the same now. I’m still here and I’m ready for action. I’ve learned a lot, I’ve lost a lot and I’ve loved a lot- and I’m still keeping it lit!"
Was there one moment in particular where you felt like you were living in a dream and couldn’t believe it all happened?
Fergie: "I would say all of it has felt pretty surreal. From the age of 14 when I first got those early gigs, I felt like I was living in this weird amazing dream - like if Carlsberg made lives they broke the mould when they made mine. I got my first Technics along with a mixer with help from my folks and with the money I would earn selling weed and mowing lawns. I had a good little business going and even when I ran out of weed, I just sold the grass I mowed and the customers would be none the wiser. Pretty bad really.
"My life has been a fairytale with a load of nightmares in it for good measure, and it's certainly been one hell of a ride. It still feels a bit like a dream but it now feels as though everything is starting to make sense again. For years I had a void and I couldn’t place what was missing. As it turns out THE MUSIC was the spark and by fuck, I have it back and it feels so good. It feels like I’m home and my heart is full again."
With you virtually becoming a ‘superstar DJ’ overnight, what was the hardest part of dealing with all that? Did people treat you differently at all?
Fergie: "People have always seemed to like me - even most of my school teachers who wanted to hate me. (I did give them one or two reasons for that, I guess.) But it was one hell of a wave that just kept getting bigger and bigger. I was so young and didn’t really know what was going on. All of it was happening so fast; the drugs, the drink, the madness and the gigs - it was just proper rock n roll. I was loving it, my mates were loving it... we all just set off on this crazy journey. People did treat me a little differently the bigger and busier I got etc but the biggest change I witnessed was actually when the arse fell out of it.
"The gigs slowed down but the partying did not. The phone started ringing less and less. It was very enlightening to lose something I didn’t really know I had to begin with because it was just a part of my life from such a young age. But here I am, coming back as a better customer with lots more to say and lots more to give. I wouldn’t have had it any other way, to be honest.
"Much respect to Tony De Vit, my mentor, my friend and life changer. I credit him with many things and he was a major role model for me even after his passing. I always looked to what he would've done to get me through the tough years. I’ve had a lot of great support over the years from my core fans and one of the biggest joys for me coming back is to see the support from my people on all my socials. Team Fergie has been waiting for me to get back to it... the general consensus online is “thank fuck Ferg, we’ve been waiting so long for you to come back and here we are so let's go!”
Is it fair to say that life’s a bit calmer for you these days? And outside of the club, what makes you happy?
Fergie: "My life is very calm these days. My wife and I have made a point of simplifying our material lives. Especially coming out of the pandemic, 2020 made us realise we need to start prioritizing experiences and time and not things and possessions. We have an amazing relationship that has only grown stronger over lockdown. (I'm so glad I didn’t meet her years ago or that would have ended up being a sad story for both of us... we’ve had this chat, timing is everything.) We are now working together, we have an amazing understanding which is that she is always right (she is, what can I say!)"
"We’re both loving this journey in life, love and music. We are learning so much along the way. I’ve started meditating and taking time to check in with myself, and now I’m able to use so much of my past experiences as positive fuel for my life now. I am able to look back and see how I have learned along the way."
Your latest release is out on Armin Van Buuren’s label. What’s your relationship like with Armin? And can you tell us a bit about the record?
"I have a very good relationship with Armin. I always have. He’s a proper gent and such a big music guy. Truly a legend. I remember him and Tijs (Tiesto) coming over in the early days and they would open for me (that's kind of changed a bit now). What they both went on to do has been incredible. It's great to be signed to Armin’s label for five tracks and I’ve been happy with the support the label has shown me. Hitting number 1 on Beatport’s Techno chart with my first release, 'Alpha Centauri' has been insane. It’s actually my very first number-one single."
"My follow-up, 'Man from Athens' is another peak time bomb released on Armada. The inspiration for this track has come from the great Greek composer, Vangelis, who is responsible for legendary soundtracks like Bladerunner which was way ahead of its time. In paying homage to this while taking things a step further, I’ve created a techno banger that leans heavily on the huge sounds from the CS80 synthesizer that Vangelis made famous. 'Man from Athens' takes you on a dark, melodic and triumphant dance floor journey."
Finally, do you still make hopes and dreams and goals as a producer? If so, what are they? And what else can we expect from you over the coming months and years?
Fergie: "In all honesty, prior to 2020 I was feeling pretty burnt out. I was doing 200 shows a year in the USA and DJing felt like a job for the first time in my life. The forced break due to covid became a welcomed one for me. I was able to see opportunity in the midst of tragedy and it led me to this musical transition which is so near and dear to my heart and history. Now the excitement is back, the fire that is burning is a fierce one. It’s never too late to pivot, set a new goal, change your life or dream a new dream!
"That being said, some of my hopes and dreams for the near future include riding this creative wave and continuing to put out great music, taking people on the musical journey with me. I’d like to be back on the global festival circuit and to be playing to all the crazy ravers around the world. I have quite a few tracks hot off the press that I am super excited about so make sure to keep your eyes and ears open for them. I’m excited to get back to travelling, about longer DJ sets, and I’m particularly excited to perform freely; to no longer feel the constraints of stereotypes, to no longer be pigeon-holed by the press, media or industry insiders.
"I feel that my age and the changing times have allowed the public to release me from those narrowly defined boundaries and they are welcoming me back with open arms. I want to deliver mystery and intrigue in my sets and in the music I make. There certainly still is an air of unpredictability about me, one that I embrace, but one thing I do want to stay consistent about is always guaranteeing a fucking amazing party."
Listen to Fergie's exclusive hour-long Skiddle Mix now, below...
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