Underground, overground with a house music mainstay.
Few bridge the divide between mainstream and underground with as much success as Dennis Ferrer. Over his two-decade career in dance music, it's seemed that for every moment of widespread appeal such as "Hey Hey," there's been a killer cut for the floor such as "Son Of Raw." Ferrer has appealed to both sides by not making a distinction between the two. To him writing virulent hooks and deep basslines are one in the same. "Purveyors of that classic house sound with a contemporary twist" is how Objectivity, the label he set up in 2006, describes itself, and it's achieved that aim through artists like The Martinez Brothers, Argy and Andre Hommen. Ferrer's other main outlet has been Defected, an outfit which itself knows a thing or two about straddling different scenes. Last month they released "Mind Ur Step," another smart slice of pop-leaning house, which was Ferrer's first solo release for a good couple of years.
There's a strong chance the track will get an airing during Ferrer's set at South West Four this coming weekend in London, and on this week's RA podcast he uses it to bring his colourful 80-minute session to a close.
What have you been up to recently?
Besides the heavy touring summer schedule and being in the studio? I suppose I'm trying to have a relatively normal life [laughs], which is all but impossible! We're having a busy release schedule lining up nicely for us here at Objektivity, and finally getting things back together with regards to being creative again. We've just released three new dub mixes of "Mind Ur Step," featuring Andre Hommen, Nick Curly and myself as OBJ024.
I suppose that sometimes life happens and reality impedes on our fantasy lives. It can shock you, alter your perceptions of people around you and force you to make a change. I'm starting to find out that change is actually good if the right opportunities are presented and taken advantage of.
How and where was the mix recorded?
Here in New Jersey using three CDJ 2000s controlling Traktor 2 and a Pioneer DJM900 directly into our mixing board and then into Wavelab to record the mix.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
I wanted a mix of old and new. I've never liked to play every single new record that's come out. I just can't. I'm too critical. The producer side of me is just too strong. I feel that because a record is hot off the press doesn't necessarily mean it's good. I'd sooner prefer to play a whole set of old tracks than a set of mediocre/bad ones. So I just kind of played what I felt made sense in that regard for this mix.
You said last month that your new single, "Mind Ur Step," was about "treading lightly on the person u love whilst in this biz." Could you expand on this?
Let's face it: as producers/DJs, when you get to a certain successful point you basically live a fantasy life. Nothing is real anymore; only your past life and the life within the confines of your own house is. Add to this the fact that we are all narcissists by nature and you begin to realize that it takes a very special individual to want to share their life with you. A lot of us don't get it. We've begun to believe our own hype. In the end we just tread and stomp all over the people who actually want to be there for us. We then act surprised as if being with us was a privilege.
Taking into account that the majority of the time we've been touring, in the studio, on other business ventures, hanging with our friends and then, finally, we say we need downtime to recover from our last gigs, when is it not about us? When is it about the person you love? "Mind Ur Step" is that reminder: "Always on a plane, train or in a car / But always on the way back to where you are / Do you still care?" So my question to all of us is: if you love someone, have we forgotten to mind our steps?
Would you say that you're more careful these days about what you release? You appear to be putting out fewer records than, say, four or five years ago.
[laughs] I don't believe in over saturating a market with mediocre releases. I'm old school in this philosophy. 20 so-so or bad records will not bring you the attention that one good, well-produced release will.
What are you up to next?
Some things will never change. I'll be doing the same thing I've been doing for the past 20 years: making records. Why? Because it's my life.