Undoubtedly one of Northern Ireland’s biggest DJ exports, Fergie came of age in the 90s under the tutelage of hard house legend Tony de Vit. Still in his late teens at the time, he quickly became a full-time DJ, touring the globe and selling sold-out shows aplenty. More recently, he decamped to Vegas, where he took up a high-profile residency. His latest release sees him switch his attention to Armin van Buuren’s Armind label, where he makes a serious comeback courtesy of an incredible release, Alpha Centauri. With much to catch up on, we decided to put some questions to the main man recently…
What is life in Vegas like? Does it feel like real life or a surreal parallel world?
Hey, I hope you are all well. Yes it does feel like an amazing parallel world that I get to dip my toe in and out of. My wife and I live in the mountains with our two dogs so we get to enjoy a wee bit of the peaceful suburban life but then we drive 30 minutes to the strip and “walk through the closet” like in Narnia and let the madness unfold. The best of both worlds for sure is the name of the game.
What took you there initially, why did you decide to live there and where were you leaving behind?
I had been playing in the USA over the years and I always loved the free and independent vibe Americans have and I was also drawn to the country’s legendary history in electronic music. Mix that with the sunshine, the pools and well, it was an easy choice for me. I am from Ireland, so yeah… the weather upgrade was a huge part of my decision.
You’re a resident at Hakkasan. Why take that role? What is the value to you of being resident, why is it a good challenge?
Yes, I play at Hakkasan and Omnia here in Vegas; having a residency gives me the opportunity to establish hometown support while gaining exposure through the international crowd in Vegas. It has been so enjoyable to call Las Vegas my second home and to witness and participate in the evolution of the electronic dance scene here. EDM music has been so important for the growth of techno since it has laid the groundwork for electronic music exposure to a larger audience.
Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to be on lineups with the likes of Black Coffee and Rufus du Sol, and it really warms my heart to see the new younger generation embrace the more “underground” flavours. Sometimes, playing in Vegas can be a challenge for me, as my goal is to play to the crowd but also take them on a journey and give them some new music they perhaps would not have been exposed to.
You have roots in techno right, way before even the harder days? Was that your first brush with dance music?
My roots are in techno, that’s correct. My first brushes with dance music were in the early days of The Prodigy and 90s UK rave & acid house. It was such a magical time in music, it was all very fresh and it’s super amazing to see how the scene has grown.
Tell us about your move back into more of a house and techno sound? When did it start and why?
The deep side of music has always been my vibe but I love a good party so that really comes across in my dj sets where I showcase the party side of techno. I left that scene for a few years as I took up some other challenges but it seemed all roads kept pushing me back to house/techno, it’s my heart and soul. After the world shut down for a year and we all had time to reevaluate things; It was a no brainer for me to get back into the studio and get all the ideas out of my head that I had been dreaming up and into a track, Alpha Centauri is the first fruits of that brainwave with many more tracks to come. I also took on new management this year and am focused on building the right team around me. Barry Amphlett has been a huge source of inspiration and was instrumental in my return to house/techno.
Are the dynamics different as a DJ playing that sort of stuff?
The dynamic was different when I first came to Vegas as the scene was very EDM heavy. I really had to think about how I programmed a set and how I would read the room. The audience demographic is very diverse in Vegas so the challenge was to get the whole crowd into the “one buzz” at the same time. We are now having some amazing nights here as the desire for house and techno has grown so much it has been a huge pleasure to see the change happen over the years.
They say that no one parties as hard as the Northern irish. Did you find that was true when coming up as a clubber and then DJ?
This is for sure a fact and still to this day I have not seen any one party like the Northern Ireland crew! Wow, it scares me a wee bit to think about it but damn we sure know how to get involved and we do not hold back one bit. I’ve traveled ‘round the world a few times over and still stick to my story.
What else have you got coming up/are you working on?
I have loads of new music coming out on Armada which I’m very excited about. I am also heading back to the UK for some shows and I will be kicking that all off with the Belsonic festival in Belfast for a massive 20,000. It feels amazing to be back!
How has the last year or so been for you personally, how did you get through it?
The last year for me was actually one of my best. I say that delicately as I know it was a tough times for many and tragic for much of the world. However, I was personally very lucky not to have experienced any loss in my inner circle of friends and family. Of course from an economic standpoint it could’ve been stressful for me but instead of worrying about that I decided to take advantage of the gift of time that had been granted to me and decided to sit back and take stock of my life. It put everything in perspective for me and we decided that moving forward that following our passions and dreams was the only way to go. To trust our intuition more and worry less. We sold everything we owned at the time to restructure our lives, to live simpler, freer and easier.
Tell us about your most recent exploits in the studio, their direction and what inspired them?
It’s been quite some time since I released anything, so again, as the pandemic hit it gave me time to be out of the dj booth out of the clubs and time to quiet my head and regain my hearing. The draw for the studio for me was so strong and once I went in I found it hard to come back out and Alpha Centauri was just the first gem to result from that time of introspection, soul searching and studio fun. There’s plenty more to come. Thanks for the chat 🙂