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Dennis Ferrer Tech-House DJ Set From The DJ Mag Miami Pool Party

Dennis Ferrer is the New York house maestro who’s made a virtue out of sticking to his principles and following his own path. With his label Objektivity on fire, remixes aplenty on the horizon and regular slots at massive events like Elrow, we talk to Ferrer about protégés, hobbies and bringing back a soulful element to house…
Words: JOE ROBERTSWhen we reach him in his New York studio, Dennis Ferrer is having the cheeriest sounding meltdown we’ve ever heard. “I’m driving myself crazy,” he says on the verge of laughing, his voice constantly hinting at a bubbling energy behind it. Having become a DJ fixture among the streamers and inflatables of Elrow in the last few years, they’ve tasked him with remixing a ’90s classic, Simon Harris’s ‘This Is Serious’. It’s from the era when Ferrer started his ascent, but as he points out, “Classics are hard to remix. Do you do it the new way and do what everyone else is doing? Or do you reach back into your bag of tricks and say, ‘Why don’t I do this house, old Dennis style?’ It’s a battle within myself.” Classic Dennis all the way, we suggest. He is, after all, a man responsible for defining mixes of tracks, like pirate radio staple ‘The Cure And The Cause’ by Fish Go Deep, or his all-guns-blazing take on Blaze & Barbara Tucker’s vocal belter ‘Most Precious Love’. “That’s what everyone’s telling me,” he says, breaking the tension with a chuckle. “Don’t do it like everyone else would do it.”

Ferrer has made a point of doing it his own way, driving his career to greater heights each time. When he set out in the early ’90s, he was making dreamy techno, ambient and even hard acid under names such as Aurasfere, or as half of Morph alongside Damon Wild. It was in house that he found his groove though, putting out a string of soulful hits from the wandering keys of 2005’s ‘Son Of Raw’ and 2006’s gospel-inspired ‘Church Lady’ to 2010’s ‘Hey Hey’, a global hit that just grew and grew. Since then, he’s moved into techier waters, maintaining his standing amid house music’s most recognisable ambassadors. As this current predicament shows, though, it’s a hot minute since he’s been in the studio — something down to the most prosaic of reasons, a bad back.“You don’t pay me to play your party. You pay me to travel… and hurt myself,” he says, adding his own addendum to the reasoning behind DJ high fees. “It’s a very demanding job,” he goes on, citing damage from years spent in studio and plane seats (“You’re in a tin can smelling everyone’s ass,” he jokes on the flipside to travel’s outward glamorousness). “It puts a demand on you physically,” Ferrer says. “But even more so mentally. You can’t let your mind get defeated. As soon as you start going, ‘Oh woe is me’, that’s the beginning of the end. I’ve been there where I said, ‘I can’t do this anymore’.” The antidote was to remember that he was still doing it out of love. “If I didn’t do this, I wouldn’t know what to do.”It’s not a new issue. When we mention interviewing Ferrer after a spectacular extended set at DJ Mag’s Miami party in 2010, he remembers it for the wrong reasons. The year of Seth Troxler’s ‘Bats’ infamy, filmed at the same party, it was Ferrer instead who appeared funny and engaging, if a little refreshed, in his own interview, and who was accused of being on drugs in YouTube’s comments. It was, he says, because his back pain was so bad he’d had to take three OxyContin painkillers to even perform. “To combat the nerves, I downed two gin and tonics before I started playing,” Ferrer says. “When it all hit, I was flying like a kite, bro. Then we did the interview!”

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