On The Record: DJ Corey Ferren
BY KALANI WILHELM / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Applying the core values from his rave days has provided DJ Corey Ferren with valuable perspective on EDM’s astronomical rise in today’s pop music landscape.
Part of Hawaii’s electronic dance culture for nearly 20 years, Ferren got his start at defunct venues like World Cafe, 1739 and Virus and has been able to cultivate a loyal following by reviving inspirational party experiences of the past.
“Going to events back when electronic music was in its infancy really changed my outlook on life,” he said. “Back then, raves were a place where you could go be yourself and it was all about that vibe, the feeling of togetherness and having that experience that you won’t forget.”
As founder and co-host of My 95.9’s “Outcast Radio” show, Ferren now plays music for some of his biggest audiences ever.
“It’s our responsibility to showcase different genres that appeal to both casual listeners and enthusiasts without scaring either one of them away,” Ferren said. “I think most importantly, ‘Outcast Radio’ gives listeners the opportunity to hear something different than the highly commercialized stuff everyone’s accustomed to hearing on the radio, hence the name.”
As one of only two Hawaii-based shows on the non-profit station’s current programming schedule (along with Willis Haltom’s “Asylum Confidential”), Ferren holds down the 4 to 6 p.m. timeslot on Saturdays with Christina “DJ Dirty Secret” Kwon. Since the show launched in October, local DJs Paul Brandon, G-Spot and DJ Packo have made appearances as guest mixers; listener response has exceeded all expectations.
“I hope that we are able to continue to do ‘Outcast Radio’ for a long time, as long as we enjoy doing it and people enjoy tuning in,” said Ferren.
Inspired early on by the hard house styles of Bad Boy Bill and Richard Vission, along with the acid house creations of legends like Mark Farina and Doc Martin, years of experience as a DJ have broadened his spectrum of acceptance to abstract sounds.
While secret raves were once held in abandoned warehouses, music festivals of recent years have infiltrated venues once dominated by rock and pop acts. EDM artist Calvin Harris earned more as a performer in 2013 than Jay-Z and Katy Perry.
“You have multi-day events with corporate sponsorships drawing crowds up over 200,000 people,” Ferren said. “I think everyone is asking, ‘How much further can it go?’”
Ferren’s loyalty will always remain with the underground sounds of big room, electro and progressive house. He still stands by the old school rave philosophy of “Peace, Love, Unity and Respect (P.L.U.R.).”
“Many people have forgotten what it means,” he said. “I really think that the respect part of it needs to come back; respect for one another and respect for where we live. We live on a small island and the EDM scene already has a bad reputation.”
Ferren admitted to being more interested in exposing worthy tunes and open minds rather than being a member of some sort of anti-commercial EDM movement.
“For me, the scene has always been about enjoying yourself and forgetting about how difficult life can be,” he said. “The more people who come out and have a good time, the better. I’ve definitely played my share of trendy tunes throughout the years. I’m pretty sure I wore out my vinyl copies of ‘Better Off Alone.’
“I’ve witnessed so many ups and downs with the scene over two decades that I think I’m okay with where it is now and wherever it ends up. EDM will still be a part of my life. I know it sounds cliche, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to give back as much as I’ve gotten from (the scene).”