Looking around at the world today, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Division rears its ugly head in the news, on social media, even on the dance floor. Moods becomes styles, which becomes genres and then sub-genres until telling someone what kind of music you make is like taking apart a Russian nesting doll. Trance legend Ferry Corsten, for one, is sick of it.
“In my style of music, trance, there’s a lot of that going on,” he says. “I feel that the genre is chopping itself up into smaller pieces, and therefore it is not really creating that massive movement that other genres have right now.”
But Corsten didn’t get to be a trance legend with 20 years in the scene by simply bitching. He’s a doer, and in 2018, he’s pushing himself and his sound toward new realms of creativity with a series of collaborative projects he dubs UNITY. He’s getting in the studio, whether physically or metaphorically, with as many people from the trance community and beyond as possible. He wants to bridge the gap between tempos, rhythms and artistic points of view.
It’s a challenge and a mantra, and thanks to a partnership with VH1’s Save The Music foundation, it’s also a force of good. And it kicks off today with another trance icon; Paul Oakenfold.
The two have existed alongside each other for decades — even physically. The friends have shared offices, staff members and stages, and yet this song, “A Slice of Heaven,” officially marks the producers’ first official original together.
“I tend to not do many collaborations,” Oakenfold says, “but I’ve always got a Ferry Corsten track in my set in some shape or form. When [Corsten] reached out, I thought, ‘It actually makes a lot of sense. ‘I think we were always really leading to this point, without us even knowing about it.”
“A Slice of Heaven” is the perfect starting point for UNITY. It reflect both trance’s roots and its future in one solid, uplifting and hopeful melody. It’s rosy and warm, exactly the kind of song you’d hope to hear from Corsten and Oakenfold together.
“For me, It was a really wonderful process, because I didn’t have to overthink it,” Oakenfold laughs. “Ferry came to the table with something that was really strong and good, and I was like, ‘Maybe I can see a few things I can add to it.’ Sometimes less is more. It wasn’t a case of ‘I’ve got to do more than you,’ or vice versa. So we both came to it just knowing what it needed, and it worked.”
UNITY is Corsten’s project for the whole of 2018. He’s working on collabs with lots of different artists at various points in their career; from the long established legends like Oakenfold to promising up-and-comers.
“The productivity and uplifting spirit is the one thing that I would look for in each track,” he says, although the vibe of each tune may vary wildly. “I’m the steady factor in this, because it’s always a collab with me. I’m really digging this sound. I’m really going for this, but there’s always a push coming back from the other guy. When I do a collab with someone else, they will have their own sound and you will definitely hear their infuence in the next one… You will find that line that is the UNITY thing that I’ve been pushing for. Eventually, that will come out when you put it all together.”
He’s got another nearly finished with his friend Alpha 9, with whom he launched the live side of UNITY at Exchange nightclub in Los Angeles earlier this month. Corsten will continue to take UNITY on the road, performing alongside his collaborators, to further showcase that different styles and tempos can live together under one roof in perfect harmony.
Of course, the UNITY concept moves in further beyond music. Corsten wants UNITY to become a happy mantra for the whole world. That’s why he teamed with VH1’s Save The Music foundation. Profits from streams and UNITY shows will help fund tech grants for the charitable program, sharing the magic of electronic music production with generations of music lovers and creative minds to come.
“In this industry, whether you’re a clubber or your a producer or DJ, it’s very safe to say that all of us really enjoy it immensely,” Corsten says. “It’s a very motivating thing in my life, and I’ve enjoyed it every day as a producer, but there’s also a lot of people that are not fortunate enough to even get close to any of this — not as a clubber, let alone be able to get a chance to touch the technology that we play with basically every day to make music, or to play records, or record tracks as a DJ. VH1 Save The Music is a tech grant that facilitates these underprivileged people to have a chance to get this, which is pretty cool I think. That’s the extra scoop of the whole UNITY thing. It’s for everyone.”
UNITY officially launches with “A Slice of Heaven” from Corsten and Oakenfold Friday, March 2, though you can listen to it below today, exclusively on Billboard Dance.