Interview: After 20 years in the rave, Fergie asks "Are You All Ready?"
This Saturday at Storm, Fergie launches his very special "Are You All Ready?" tour to celebrate his 20 years in the rave. Here he tells us a bit more about the tour and shares some of his fondest memories behind the vinyl that he will be playing...
After years of requests, what made you decide now was the right time to put together a tour like this?
Yeah it's defo the most asked question of the last ten years. For me when I decided to stop playing hard house it was the correct decision as I felt it had lost it's groove. But the music that I made my name with and in my opinion the (best) hard house that we played in the 90s was where it was at, and that music has always stayed with me. I think if you listen to my productions over the last 10 years you will see the connection.For me it's the right time to go back and dig out the records that inspired me and the hard house uprising, I'm excited to let the new guys see how we done it and also to see the old faces out raving it up, it will be a sight that I'm most looking forward to seeing.The problem for me will be deciding what to play, I have had all these tracks / mixes on my Ipod for years asI've never stopped listening to them. To bring them back into the club will be a very special experience for me.
What's the story behind the name of the tour? ( "Are You All Ready?")
The name comes from one of Tony's (De Vit) biggest records; "Are You All Ready". I remember when Tony made this track as I was with him in his studio in Birmingham. He had quite a big studio and he also had a vocal booth, I had gone into the vocal booth after Tony had finished the track and he then started to play the track. His sound in the studio was unreal and like nothing I had heard before, so loud. I remember watching Tony dancing to this new track like no-one was watching, but I was and it was so good to see, he was so excited about it. The main hook is taken from an old record by Doc Scot "NHS Surgery EP". Tony really brought it to life though, I was also with him when he first dropped it at Trade and Gay Pride in London... mayhem.I wanted to have as much of Tony in there as I could, this name just felt right.
What can we expect from your "Are You All Ready?" sets?
The sets are going to be different, some of the gigs are more hard house orientated, for instance the set I play at Storm will be different to the set I do at Colours.Storm will be what a hard house set is (in my eyes) and Colours will be more about what I was up to post-2000, still banging but more on the European Techno vibe. This all feels so right, over the years I have slipped a few of these tracks into my sets, at one point I had to delete them from my laptop as I was starting to play them too much...
Are you excited to be back spinning the vinyl? When was the last time you played an all vinyl set?
Yes this is something I'm excited about for sure, I'm a bit apprehensive but looking forward to getting right at it.I remember how I felt when I mixed my first 2 vinyls together, I had managed to beat-match for the first time then I remember I couldn't get it right for ages, I think possibly weeks, it was very frustrating. I remember telling everyone about it, my only saving grace was my brother was with me so he was my proof. It sounds a bit silly now but it was a big thing to beat-match nearly 20 years ago.
I remember when I came over to Tonys he used to get me to do a mix for the car journey to all the gigs on each weekend, if he ever heard me touching the actual vinyl to keep the beats in time he would open the window and chuck the CD out. It took me a while but I got used to only using the pitch. This was a very Trade way and the only way I ever seen all the Trade DJs control the decks.
You've been hooked by the rave bug for 20 years now, did you think this would be the case when you when you first went out to a club all those years ago?
Ha no I defo didn't, my main worry back then was that this music would no longer be around by the time Iwas 18 so I was determined to get amongst it whilst it was here. I loved the Prodigy and that early hardcore rave sound. I remember going to Butlins in Scotland with my youth club and going to the discos where the Scottish DJs played hardcore, it was amazing as this was the sound Carl Cox was playing at the time at the raves so to hear this music in Butlins was out of this world. I was hooked on this whole buzz and couldn't get enough.
You've had so many experiences as a DJ over the past 20 years, what is the biggest lesson you've learnt along the way?
I think it would have to be to remember that people are coming out on a weekend to party and have a good time, it's important to bring new music to the party but you have to give people what they want. I suppose I lost that a few times over my career. To get the right mix is very important, for me Tony always had the right mix and also Carl Cox.
If you could re-live one moment from those last 20 years what would you choose?
WOW there have been so many, I would have to pick two, I would have to say my first raves at Hellraiser and also Trade in London. These parties opened my mind and also scared me a little, because of the intensity of the buzz going off inside the clubs / venues, I was 13 when I first went to Hellraiser and 16 when I went to Trade so I was very, very young. I have always kept listening to the mixes I heard from these nights, I still get the same buzz now that i got then and that's pretty remarkable considering the experiences I have been lucky enough to have had over the years.
If you could bring back one of the clubs you used to play that are no longer running and add it to the tour, which one would it be and what would the lineup be?
Ha again it would be crazy to pick just one, I would pick 2 venues and have the DJ line-up stay the same at both gigs, Trade and Hellraiser, at Turnmills (London) and Ulster Hall (Belfast).
Tony De Vit, Pablo Gargano, Dream Frequency, Carl Cox, Ramirez, Steve Thomas, Malcolm Duffy, Ian M, Sharp Boys, Fat Tony, Pete Wardman, Tall Paul... that would be some night, I have a lot of respect for all these guys, they were some of the best nights that have never been matched.
And finally, if you could remix any record from the past 20 years, what would it be? "Positive Education" by Slam. For me, remixing it a couple of years ago was a very special moment as it was one of the first records I bought so I will stick with that :--)
Interview: After 20 years in the rave, Fergie asks "Are You All Ready?" by ExcentricFergie on Myspace