He has featured in the “DJ Mag Top 100 DJs” poll seven years in a row and currently holds the record for the highest new entry since the poll began when he was voted 8th in 2000. He was the youngest ever Radio1 presenter and was the the first resident Essential Mix DJ alongside Carl Cox. He had his own BBC Radio 1 show for 5 years that championed fresh underground sounds to millions of listeners each week. His thirteen Radio One Essential Mixes makes him one of the most featured DJs of the station’s ten-year history. He won a charity superstar DJ competition, which was broadcast live on Radio One, beating people like Fatboy Slim, Carl Cox and Darren Emerson. He has had over 38 tracks released, 27 remixes, seven DJ mix albums, four magazine cover CDs, and one artist album, which won the IDMA Best Album 2011 and he played his first set at 14 years old and had to stand on a milk crate to reach the decks and although he has been DJing at the highest level for over 20 years, he’s STILL only 34 years old!
EDMLife readers, we present to you the man, the myth and the legend. Fergie DJ.
Let’s get the first question out of the way. You’re NOT a new DJ on the scene and you’ve not just landed on your feet with a gig in Vegas?
HAHA! No, I’m not. I’ve been around from quite a long time. I tell people to do a little bit of research on me. All the information is there. When you see my name on the flyer, search for me online and you’ll find out everything you need to know. I have been lucky to do a thing or two over the past 20 odd years. And no, before you ask, I’m not Fergie from The Black Eyed Peas. I have better legs than her!
Do people still make a big issue of the Fergie name thing? I read that when you first came out here, people were being a little abusive because they thought you “stole it” from her?
Well, first of all, I never picked the name Fergie, I actually had an even more stupid name! When I started DJing all those years ago, I wanted to be called DJ Destruction! Back then in the very early 90s (1992 to be precise) DJs made up more interesting names, but people refused to use it and “Wee Fergie” just stuck–Wee because I have an older brother with the same name—and I’m now very glad I took their advice!
How different is the scene in the U.S. now compared to when you first came here all those years ago?
It’s such a contrast now from 1998 when I first started playing in America. I was just 18 and it was a very different scene as the clubs never played dance music like they did in Europe. That made it difficult for DJs like me to play the kind of music we were known for. Back then I would have been playing here in the U.S. every few months but there was no real sign of the dance scene kicking off. What a difference a decade makes, the U.S. is now the biggest market in the world for it.
So you have no regrets coming out here to make the U.S. your new home?
The decision to come here was a no brainer. I came on a mini tour of the USA in 2001 with my friend, Neil Moffitt (who owned Godskitchen in the UK and Angel Management Group in Vegas, and is now the owner of Hakkasan), and we played NYC, LA, Toronto and Vegas. I remember playing at The RA club for one of Neil’s first Godskitchen parties in the US and now that I think back, the crowd was so different from what I was used to playing for. Some people were actually wearing suits!
Did they know who you were?
A lot of people had traveled from Salt Lake City to see me as they had been listening to my Radio 1 show but the vibe was very mixed to say the least, I think half of the crowd thought I was trying to wake the devil with the music I was playing and the rest were loving it.
And of course, Neil was one of the key figures in changing the shape of the scene here with what he’s done in Las Vegas, wasn’t he?
Yes, very much. Neil saw the massive potential in America, particularly in Las Vegas and he made it his mission to find a way to give the US market the push it needed. He moved to Las Vegas and built his empire and was asking me to come over for years but I was doing my Radio1 show and I didn’t feel that I was ready to move.
And that’s all changed now?
It sure has! When he offered me the residency at Wet Republic it was an opportunity that I couldn’t refuse and that’s when things started to move very quickly for me. When Neil went on to talk about his vision for the Hakkasan project and how it would change the whole concept of the clubbing experience in not only Vegas, but the U.S., needless to say I was hooked and I knew I had to be a part of it.
How do you feel about opening at Hakkasan for the likes of Tiesto considering he used to open for you?
A lot can be said about the other DJs too who are around today. People like Tiesto and Calvin Harris play with me regularly and we all have a history together of playing either before or after one another. It was a long time ago when Tijs (Tiesto) and I would play the same show, the music I was playing then was very different. Tijs is a great guy and I’m very happy to see how he moved forward with his career. I have supported him quite a few times at Hakkasan so it’s always great to catch up and also play on such a crazy busy night.
Do you think Tiesto had a lot to do with the way the scene has progressed here in the U.S.?
I will always say that it was Paul Oakenfold who took the Djing from the clubs to the stadiums but Tiesto took that even further and beyond, he has been top of his game for 15 plus years so it’s great to see he still has the desire to push the boundaries further.
Do they sometimes wind you up about you opening for them now?
Hahaha, we have a laugh about it but there is no issue for me whether I am headlining or supporting them. No matter what time I am playing at or where I am on the bill, top or bottom, my job and my passion is still the same; I want to rock the room from the front to the back. First and foremost I am a DJ that is what I enjoy most. As you say I have been the headline DJ for these guys many a time so I understand the boundaries that the support DJ should not cross. I’m old skool and I feel that as long as I’m on the bill it doesn’t matter in which order as long as I rock the room and you remember enjoying my set then that’s what it’s all about.
What about the “new blood” who are playing out there? Do they know your history?
The funny thing is that a lot of the younger DJs always tell me that they listened to my Radio1 show when they were growing up. It’s great that they use to tune in and it’s funny now that it is me checking them out and listening to the new sounds they are bringing to the clubs. As I said it’s a funny old world and a great place to be, dance music always seems to have a way of connecting people.
How have the clubbers reacted to you here in the U.S.?
They have been great. The people who come to the clubs are so into the music and love everything that’s going on with it. They want to wear the t-shirts with the DJ’s name on them and they’re all into the way of life that comes with clubbing. For me, as a DJ, this has always been my life. I’ve done nothing else since I was 12. To see the crowds having the time of their lives in front of me is amazing and I love being part of it all. You also get to play to a lot of people who have just got into dance music so for me this is even more special as I always remember how I felt when I went to my first rave, my world has never been the same since and the buzz from the music I got then has never changed. It’s a way of life for me and I have seen it so many times with this music. It brings people together like I have never seen in any other type of music do. We are the party people and we would do anything to get to the club and I can really feel that vibe when I’m out at my gigs.
You call your parties Arcadia and host podcast’s under the same name. Tell us about them.
I wanted to make the Arcadia parties as random as possible. For example, I wanted to try to recreate the crazy, mad vibe that I experienced at the kind of clubs I used to play where people would turn up to the gig dressed as a suitcase and in the first year of Arcadia we had the little people dancing on the decks, fire grinders, stilt walkers interacting with the crowd, making the crowd part of the show and it was great.
And your Arcadia podcast is getting well received too?
Yeah, I’m having fun with that. I play everything from the new sounds that are getting released to some of my old favorites. My main goal is to make sure that anyone who listen has as much fun listening to it as I do making it, Its kind of an extensions to what I did with my BBC Radio1 show for 5 years, I had a great time doing that. The vibe was just to have a kind of house party feel, I wanted people at home to be involved it was a show for them hosted by me, Music by the people for the people I guess.
What’s next for Fergie DJ?
My goals have never changed for me as a DJ. I just want to be the best at what I do and reach as many people as I can. We’ve all established that the U.S. is the market where I’m less known so that’s why I’m here. I want to change that. I want to show the U.S. dance music crowd what I can do, and have been doing for the past 20 years. And of course, we’ll be having fun along the way, I will keep on touring the world, I have also a new residency in Korea at the new Vanguard Club, I have been playing Korea for years so its nice to finally have a home. I will go back to Ibiza for the first time in two years.
Will you be sad to leave the U.S. to tour?
Funnily enough, yes. When I moved to America I more or less stayed put for the first two years as I just didn’t want to leave. I had made a decision to come here and really bed myself in and find my groove and I feel I am doing that so now it’s time to go back to Ibiza and play more of the world. I use to play there (Ibiza) every week from 1998 to 2011 so I have a long history with the White Isle and many memories are there, I would say I also left plenty of brain cells there so I may go find them! Oh who am I kidding, I’ll lose more!
You can catch Fergie DJ’s Arcadia parties at Hakkasan at MGM Grand, HQ in Atlantic City & at his summer pool party residency at Wet Republic, MGM Grand