Jun 9, 2021
5 min read
Ferreck Dawn has been on a winding two-decade journey from raver to global house mainstay. Each unexpected pathway led him towards realizing his most authentic work. Even when he struggled to feel connected to his output, he presented the playful grooves and sultry swag that defines his sound. His 2018 Defected debut, “In Arms,” is the culmination of that journey. It was a moment of activation for Ferreck.
Ferreck says his life changed when he attended his first festival as a teenager. “I wasn't the age of actually being allowed. The thing is you have to be 18-years-old. A 16-year-old shouldn't be at an event like that usually. So, I got a bit lucky.”
At the time Sensation was the gold standard for dance events. Larger-than-life production, arena trance, and 45,000 people dressed in white. How could he not fall in love with dance music?
Ferreck said, "That kind of opened my eyes. I was completely blown away by that event, everybody in white and the music and the DJs. And that's definitely the moment in my head that I realized this is something I want to get into. "
When you listen to his music now, it may be surprising that he got his start in hardcore. He still likes his music a little tough these days. When he goes out he prefers techno. Maybe it's not so surprising when you consider the Dutch are possibly the biggest consumers of hard dance in the world.
After a few years of banging it out, he felt like he was stuck on a roundabout and needed to pick an exit.
“I didn't find this genre to be very fresh and innovative. And I got fed up with it at a certain point. So, after I think about four years I figured, I'm gonna do a 180. I started to notice that I felt a lot better listening to house music.”
He's held on to a memento from his formative DJ years. The name Ferreck Dawn is the yin to his old DJ name’s yang. As a hardcore DJ, he went by Dusk. And he says he wanted to flip that vibe, “In my head I’m figuring that I'm going to do a 180. So, I'm going to go for Dawn and Ferrick. It's just different way of my real name.” It was also an easier way for people in the UK and US to pronounce his given name, Freek.
He began to feel more comfortable with his new direction. And in 2011 he signed a four-year deal with Spinnin'. In 2014 he released “Love to Deep,” with Spinnin' regular Redondo. Garagey house was having a moment. And “Love Too Deep” pulled on the thread of classic tunes like “Show Me Love.”
Ferreck seized the moment. He said it was the first time he felt that music could be a career. “It went on to BBC Radio One daytime radio in the UK. That was definitely the moment that I told my girlfriend, listen if I'm ever going to do it, this is the time.”
Spinnin’ was at its peak. Ferreck was grateful for everything he learned and accomplished there, yet he still fell short of his most authentic self.
“They [helped] me go into a direction that's successful. They're really great at doing the music they do. But at a certain point, I definitely felt like this is just not for me.”
He never felt pressured to follow trends. And Spinnin’ supported a transition to what resonated with him.
“Slowly, but surely, during those four years, you can hear my music transition to house music more and more. And then, when the four years were over, we shook hands in a very friendly way. And I went on to different labels that I felt are better suited for the music I do.”
As the door closed on Spinnin’ it opened on a label that has been at the pinnacle of dance music for nearly 20 years. Ferreck signed his breakthrough track “In Arms,” to Defected in 2017. And it was an incredible full-circle moment for him.
“From growing up and slowly and surely going from gabber to house and techno, Defected has always been there. So that's always been a label that I thought wow that's something if you can release on Defected! It's actually happening, that that was such a cool moment.”
“In Arms” was intended to be part of a two-track EP for Defected sublabel DFTD. Ferreck finished the second track, “Lovers & Haters” (out summer 2021) in December of 2017. Sam Devine broke “In Arms” while on tour in 2018. The track resonated with the dancefloor, and she ended up dropping it everywhere on tour. Defected decided to put all their power behind it as a single on the main label. And it’s Ferreck’s most successful record to date.
Ferreck has continued to release music that feels authentic and personal. And as he rounds the turn on another leg of his journey, he's hopeful about the future of dance music. And he’s overjoyed that the world has caught on to what Sensation opened his eyes to at 16.
“I'm excited that house music is thriving. Still, after 20 years, there's definitely no slowing down. Probably even picking up pace. It's getting bigger and bigger. It's amazing how dance music kind of exploded in the US. It's very cool that throughout the world everywhere people enjoy this kind of music. When it originated at end of the 80s that they said it was just a short thing. It’s amazing that it's so powerful and keeps growing.”