Fergie (DJ)

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Fergie
Fergie
Fergie at a BBC Radio 1 event
Background information
Native name
Fergie
Birth nameRobert Ferguson
Born1979
OriginLarne, Northern Ireland
Genres
Occupation(s)
Years active1993–present
LabelsExcentric Muzik
Associated acts
Websitefergiedj.com

Fergie (born Robert William Ferguson, 16 November 1979)[1] is a Northern Irish DJ and electronic music artist from Larne, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.[2] Initially playing hard house in the DJ sets of his early career, he is now better known for playing and producing House and Techno music. He presented his own radio show on BBC Radio 1 for four years.[3]

Fergie played his first set at the age of 14 in his native Larne. Allegedly a milk crate was used so that he could reach the decks. Being underage, he was soon ejected from the premises by the police. He followed this by building his reputation at Armagh's The Met, promoted by friend Mark Dobbin. Before moving to London he met Tony De Vit while DJing at Lush! in Kelly's, Portrush. De Vit would become Fergie's mentor, playing together at Trade in Turnmills.[4] Through the 1990s he played at clubs across the UK including Sundissential and Godskitchen. He was also popular in Ibiza, DJing at Privilege, Space and Bora Bora. He has featured in the "DJ Mag Top 100 DJs" poll 7 years in a row (between 2000 and 2006) and currently holds the record for the highest new entry since the poll began, achieved when he was voted 8th in 2000.[5] He's currently living in Las Vegas and has been a resident DJ at the Hakkasan Nightclub at the MGM Grand since it opened in 2013.[6][7] He is working under the name Fergie (DJ).

Early life[edit]

Fergie's first ever visit to a nightclub came at the age of 13 when a radio DJ friend of his fathers jokingly offered to take him to The Arena in Armagh and his parents agreed to it.[8] The DJ on the night was Robbie Nelson and to enter the club he had to be sneaked in through a fire escape.[9] Recalling the events in 2007 Fergie said, "It was there and then that I wanted to be a DJ. I bugged my Dad’s mate in the car on the way back asking him what the music was and what they played."[10] This was his first taste of dance music and shortly after that he purchased a pair of turntables.[11] He would spend his time in the Sounds Good Music record shop in Larne run by Mark and Gleave Dobbin[12] instead of attending school and later began working there to cover the repayments due on his turntables.[10] He struggled with his education as, unknown at the time, he was dyslexic.[13] He left school permanently aged 13; after being in a car accident he took time off to recover and never returned.[8] Around this time he attended a Hellraiser rave at Ulster Hall in Belfast with Carl Cox performing.[14] It was the experience of this rave which led to the name of his 2010 debut artist album Dynamite & Laserbeams.[15]

Still aged 13, whilst spending afternoons playing for the Northern Ireland national Under-16 football team, he began working at The House Nightclub (at the Kilwaughter House Hotel) near Larne.[16][17] Fergie was too young to enter the club as a customer and so instead the club promoter Mark Dobbin gave him a red boiler suit to wear and paid him to collect empty glasses,[16] brush the floor and clean the toilets.[18] It was here he would see the likes of Danny Rampling and Paul Oakenfold perform.[19] As a perk of the job he was allowed to practise on the club's DJ equipment (with the aid of a milk crate to stand on to reach it).[18] This led to him playing his first DJ gig when he was age 14, a warm-up set at the venue. Although at the time his DJ alias was DJ Destruction people preferred to call him Wee Fergie, which he became commonly known as.[20] His first paid DJ gig was at a nightclub called Airport 2000 in Templepatrick, County Antrim[21] and by the age of 16 he had played all the leading clubs in Ireland.[11][22] As he was underage he was often thrown out of venues by the police[23] meaning his parents often had to collect him from police stations.[11]

Career[edit]

1995-1996: Move to England[edit]

Fergie first met his future mentor and friend Tony De Vit in 1995,[19] when he was 15.[24] De Vit was DJing at the Kilwaughter House nightclub and Fergie took a night off from his own DJ residency (at the Airport 2000 nightclub) to see him play. Fergie managed to meet him in person and persuaded him to let him in the DJ booth during his set.[25] They kept in touch (Fergie would call him up to 3 times a day[26]) and from then on De Vit stayed at Fergie's parents' house whenever he performed in Northern Ireland.[27] De Vit invited him to his house in Birmingham, England for a week's holiday and to experience the country's club scene.[25] During the holiday, the IRA ceasefire that was in place at the time back in Northern Ireland ended and Fergie remained in England with De Vit.[28] Fergie accompanied De Vit at his DJ gigs around the UK which at the time was usually around 7 or 8 gigs a week.[29] De Vit would ask Fergie to record a DJ mix CD for these car journeys. If he ever heard Fergie manipulate the vinyl with his hand in the recording (a mixing technique he had advised him not to use) he would eject the CD and throw it out of the car window.[30] De Vit would often ask the club promoter if Fergie could play a short DJ set after his, with a reduction in his own set duration if required.[31] It was around this time De Vit first took Fergie to Trade, a weekly party held on Sunday morning at the Turnmills nightclub in London, where De Vit had a DJ residency. Fergie was still only 16.[32]

1997-2000: Early career and success[edit]

An early breakthrough in Fergie's DJ career came when at the age of 17 he DJ'ed at Trade for the first time. He played in their Test Lounge; a room in the club where new DJs could be tried out and crowd reaction gauged.[33] Present were Tony De Vit, fellow Trade DJs Steve Thomas and Malcolm Duffy plus Trade owner Laurence Malice (amongst others).[34] This led to a phone call a few weeks later requesting him to play the Trade main room;[35] for for his full Trade debut he played the last set of the event at 12pm on a Sunday afternoon.[36] He would later become a resident DJ of Trade.[37] In 1997 he played outside of the UK for the first time when he toured South Africa[38] as the support DJ for Tony De Vit.[27] It was only his second time flying on a plane[18] and De Vit had to be Fergie's named guardian for the trip (he had to be added to De Vit's passport).[39] Fergie's first appearances in Ibiza came in the summer of 1998 when he played at the Space and Privilege clubs plus the Bora Bora beach club.[38] The party at Bora Bora was held by Trade in memory of De Vit who had died not long before. In 2018 Fergie said of De Vit, "Tony was my mentor. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it was not for his support. (...) He opened doors for me and was a huge help with the technical side of my DJing too."[27]

After De Vit's death, Fergie received support from both Laurence Malice and Andi Buckley (who became his manager)[35] and together with his own determination his career continued its upwards trajectory.[40] In March 1999 Fergie toured the US for the first time (with Godskitchen[35]) and at 19 years of age he was once again not old enough to legally drink in the venues he was playing in.[41] In the summer of that year he returned to Ibiza to be a weekly resident DJ for the Trade parties; held on Friday nights at the El Divino nightclub[42] and Saturday mornings at Space.[43] Fergie's close association with Trade continued in 1999 with two more personal milestones. His debut release[44] "People Are Still Having Sex / Ooh Sir" was released on Trade Records[45] and he also compiled and mixed the second half of Trade Hotmix '99 (a covermount CD for M8 magazine).[46] At the end of the year he was nominated for Best New DJ at the Ericsson Muzik Awards[47] and was voted 17th in the Mixmag DJ Awards.[41] New Year's Eve 1999 saw him play 6 gigs across the UK for the turn of the new millennium.[48]

In early 2000 he became a resident DJ for Godskitchen[13] which at the time was a Birmingham based club night held weekly at The Sanctuary venue and later at CODE.[49] He had been DJing regularly at Godskitchen events since their initial events at The Planet nightclub in Coventry.[50] At this point in time he also held DJ residencies at the Sundissential, Passion and Trade club nights in the UK.[13] 2000 also saw Passion offer Fergie his own event at The Emporium nightclub in Coalville to showcase his sound. This became the Friday night event Storm.[51] In March, Fergie's Let There Be Hard House DJ mix was the covermount CD for Mixmag magazine.[13] In the same month Fergie's first commercially available DJ mix was released on CD;[52] Fergie compiled and mixed CD1 of Nukleuz Presentz HardHouse Anthems (CD2 was mixed by BK).[53] His first solo commercially available DJ mix 7 Live #3: Fergie was released on CD later that year.[54] In the summer of 2000 he held a DJ residency for Godskitchen's events at the Amnesia nightclub in Ibiza.[23] He also performed on their float at the Berlin Love Parade in July.[55] Later that month he appeared on the cover of DJ Mag for the first time.[56] In the October issue of Muzik he was placed 29th in the magazine contributors' Top 50 DJs Of The World list.[57] His first entry in the DJ Mag Top 100 DJs poll came in late 2000, at number 8.[58] As of 2017, this is the highest new entry there has been in the history of the poll.[41] He finished the year with a first time appearance on the December cover of Mixmag.[59]

From 1995 through to 2000 Fergie's DJ sets were composed mainly of hard house music and he became closely associated with it.[60] Sundissential promoter Madders attributed the popularity of the sound in 2001 to "Tony (De Vit)'s work in the mid 90s, and people like Andy Farley, Lisa Lashes and Fergie in the late 90s."[61] However Fergie had grown uncomfortable with the direction hard house had taken.[34] From 2000, for a period of around two years, he regularly changed his music style[62] and played a wider variety of dance music.[60] In the booklet notes of his 2001 Hard Energy CD, he explained the music he played was better described as hard music rather than hard house.[31] The change in musical direction, away from hard house, initially had a negative impact on the number of DJ bookings he received and the DJ fees he could command.[34]

2001-2006: BBC Radio 1[edit]

He made his debut appearance on the Essential Mix radio show, broadcast on BBC Radio 1, on 14 January 2001. In March it was announced that he had been signed to Radio 1 as a bi-monthly resident for the Essential Mix show[63] along with Carl Cox.[64] Fergie went on to record three further Essential Mixes in 2001[65] as the official Radio 1 Essential Mix DJ.[66] To date he has recorded a total of 13 for the station.[67] Later in March Fergie won "Essential Relief"; this was a battle of the DJs style competition broadcast live on Radio 1 from the nightclub Home in London, in aid of Comic Relief.[66] Listeners voted via telephone and email and the event was attended by over 2000 people.[68] He beat Carl Cox and Jon Carter in his first two heats and in the final he beat Fatboy Slim. The other competing DJs were Judge Jules, Seb Fontaine, Lottie and Darren Emerson.[66] On 6 May he returned to the Essential Mix with a live broadcast from a Godskitchen event at Leeds Town Hall.[69] That summer saw Fergie continue his Godskitchen Ibiza DJ residency for a second year, playing weekly at Amnesia.[70] After his fourth Essential Mix in October, recorded live from Godskitchen at CODE in Birmingham, he hosted Judge Jules' Radio 1 show whilst Jules was away that week.[71] Two of his DJ mixes were released by the Ministry Of Sound label in 2001. Headliners: 03 Fergie was a double CD released in October.[72] Earlier in the year he compiled and mixed disc 1 of Hard Energy alongside a DJ mix from Yomanda.[73] Towards the end of 2001 he was voted 16th in the DJ Mag Top 100 DJs Poll[74] and was nominated for the Best DJ award at the Muzik Magazine Dance Awards.[75]

He began hosting his own weekly Friday night radio show on BBC Radio 1 from 7 June 2002.[76] His first show was broadcast live from Larne F.C.'s Inver Park stadium (the home of his local football team that he had previously helped by sponsoring them[44]) and was billed as his homecoming. Around this time, Larne High School (where Fergie previously attended) invited him to open a new part of the school that had been recently completed and the opening was commemorated with a plaque.[11] On 7 July 2002, Fergie's set from Trade at Turnmills was broadcast live on the Radio 1 Essential Mix show as part of the station's Mardi Gras coverage.[77] The November issue of DJ Mag revealed Fergie was voted 21st in the Top 100 DJs Poll of 2002.[74]

In 2003 Fergie compiled and mixed a Mixmag covermount CD for the second time. Fergie's Funky Techno Mix appeared on the cover of the July issue. The mix showcased the kind of Techno and Tech House music he was now playing in his DJ sets and on his radio show.[78] In August he blew a speaker due to the volume of the music he was playing, causing it to burst into flames, during an unannounced set at the Eden nightclub in Ibiza.[79] He was nominated for Best Newcomer DJ at the DJ Awards in September of that year.[80] He placed 23rd in that year's DJ Mag Top 100 DJs Poll.[81]

In January 2004 he made his second appearance on the front cover of Mixmag.[82] In July[83] his Radio 1 show moved to a Saturday night slot resulting in the listener figures doubling.[36] By now his radio show had evolved to encompass Electro, Tech House and Breaks genres alongside Techno.[79] That month also saw the release of a DJ mix as a covermount CD for DJ Mag as part of their DJ International Allstars series. Instead of a snapshot of his current DJ set, this DJ mix was mostly compiled of influential tracks from his past.[16] In November he played Lush!, a longstanding nightclub in Portrush, Northern Ireland for the first time. 2004 saw Fergie begin to hold one off events under the name of Excentric, launching at Air in Birmingham with Godskitchen.[79] He was voted 58th in the DJ Mag Top 100 DJs Poll of 2004.[84]

September 2005 saw Fergie share the lineup with Moby at the Nokia Trends festival in Buenos Aires, Argentina.[85] His Excentric events began to be held at Turnmiils in conjunction with The Gallery.[36] He continued to be placed in the annual Top 100 DJs Poll held by DJ Mag, in 2005 he came 60th.[86]

In September 2006, Fergie left Radio 1 due to the station's schedule revamp on evening and weekend shows.[87] The sound and style of his radio show had evolved over the 6 years it was on air and the station wanted him to play dance music closer to the music he played in the earlier years, which he felt he could not do.[88] The final show aired on 23 September 2006 and was broadcast live from Kellys nightclub in Northern Ireland[89] where he interviewed his mother and brother amongst others.[90] Fergie's DJ set from Lush! was broadcast live on the Essential Mix following the final show.[91] Over the lifetime of the radio show, there were live broadcasts from Ibiza,[92] Miami,[93] Glastonbury,[94] the Global Gathering festival (UK),[95] the Creamfields festival (UK),[96] the Skol Beats festival (Brazil),[97][98] Coloursfest (UK),[99] Planet Love (UK),[100] and The Met nightclub in Northern Ireland.[101] These live shows typically featured a live DJ set from Fergie instead of his usual show structure. Reflecting on the show in 2014 Fergie said, "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".[20]

During the time of his radio show he was also a monthly columnist for Mixmag.[102] The column was at first titled "Mixmag Future Heroes"[103] and later as "Stick It Out! With Fergie".[104] Together with his radio show and events at the Turnmills club in London, the column provided exposure for up and coming talent.[105]

He made his seventh consecutive appearance in the Top 100 DJs Poll of 2006, finishing in 80th place.[106]

2007-2011: Launch of Excentric Muzik[edit]

In 2007 Fergie launched his own record label by the name of Excentric Muzik[107] as an outlet for the music that he had been writing and producing with new studio partner Dave Robertson.[108] The label's first release was a re-release of Salt City Orchestra's "The Book" alongside two new remixes from Fergie and Gregor Tresher.[10] He also launched Excentric Artists, a DJ agency created to nurture and assist up and coming talent.[25] His events under the Excentric brand began to occur more frequently in 2007, including at The Key in London,[108] in Birmingham at the Custard Factory (in conjunction with Ultra+) and a weekly party in Ibiza throughout that summer.[109] A notable booking came that year when he played the long running Belfast event Shine, in the Mandela Hall.[110]

In 2008 he launched a second record label with Mr Henry Von called Rekluse.[111] On Boxing Day that year he played at seminal Techno event Pressure (at The Arches in Glasgow)[112] for the first time.[113] He remixed Slam's "Positive Education" track as an exclusive for his DJ set that night[114] although it did receive a full release through the Soma record label the following year.[115] This DJ set had additional significance to Fergie as it meant over the course of his career he had played at all three of the major Glasgow club nights held at The Arches, the other two being Inside Out and Colours.[116] In 2010 he launched a third label, again with Mr Henry Von, called Tribal Rage.[117] His debut artist album Dynamite & Laserbeams was released in October 2010 through his own Excentric Muzik label.[15] The album was a critical success with positive reviews in offline and online publications such as Mixmag,[118] DJ Mag,[119] Data Transmission,[120] IDJ[121] and Tilllate.[122] The album also won the Best Album award at the Irish Dance Music Awards 2011.[21] The title of the album referred to the experiences of his youth in Northern Ireland when young people from communities that would otherwise not mix would come together at rave events.[15]

In August 2011 he performed on the main stage as a headliner at the Dance Valley festival in the Netherlands.[123] He recorded a monthly podcast titled Fergie's Excentric Muzik Session throughout 2011 which ran for ten episodes and could be described as having a similar style and structure to his former Radio 1 show.[124]

2012-Present: Move to US[edit]

Fergie relocated to Las Vegas in 2012[6] to begin a DJ residency at Wet Republic, MGM Grand Las Vegas that was offered to him by Godskitchen and Angel Management Group founder[125] Neil Moffitt.[20] A DJ residency also commenced that year at HQ Nightclub, Revel in Atlantic City.[11] Initially for his DJ appearances in the US he performed under the alias Rob Guson to avoid confusion with the singer of the same name.[126] He also used this alias at the Global Gathering festival in July to perform on the House stage.[127] In early 2013 he returned to performing worldwide as Fergie although in the US he is now billed as Fergie DJ.[128]

In 2013 he became a resident DJ at Hakksan Nightclub, MGM Grand Las Vegas when it opened in April.[6] He was featured in an advert in GQ magazine, to promote the opening of the club, alongside the other launch resident DJs.[129] Since the Hakkasan Nightclub opened, he has been featured on the outdoor video billboards of the MGM Grand to promote his DJ appearances. In an interview in 2014 he described this as one of the highlights of his DJ career, "Seeing the image of myself on the Las Vegas strip topped it all off. It took me back to being 14 years old my bedroom in Larne and reminded me of everything I’ve done in the past".[130]

In 2015 he gained another Las Vegas DJ residency when Omnia Nightclub, Caesars Palace, opened.[18] On 19 October 2016, Fergie appeared on the Fox News TV programme Fox & Friends in connection with the third presidential debate that was held at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.[131] In 2017 he played DJ sets in Las Vegas a total of 235 times. He credits the advice and support of Neil Moffitt and James Algate for the success of his career since moving to the city.[27]

As of 2018, Fergie holds DJ residencies in Las Vegas at Hakkasan Nightclub, Omnia Nightclub and at Wet Republic.[7]

Discography[edit]

As well releasing many singles of his own work, he has released a number of mix albums for labels including Ministry of Sound and remixed artists such as Tears for Fears,[132] Slam,[133] Umek,[134] UNKLE[135] and Silicone Soul.[136] Fergie released his debut album Dynamite & Laserbeams on his Excentric Muzik label in 2010.[15]

Chart singles[edit]

  • "Deception" (2000) – UK No. 47
  • "Hoovers & Horns" (2000) – UK No. 57
  • "The Bass EP" (2002) – UK No. 47[137]

† Billed as Fergie & BK

Albums[edit]

  • Dynamite & Laserbeams – Excentric Muzik (2010)

DJ Mix Albums (Commercially Available)[edit]

  • Nukleuz Presents Hard House Anthems Mixed By BK & FergieVirgin (2000)[53]
  • 7 Live #3: Fergie – DMC (2000)[138]
  • Hard Energy Mixed By Fergie and Yomanda – Ministry of Sound (2001)[139]
  • Headliners: 03 Fergie – Ministry Of Sound (2001)[140]
  • GK Summer Trance (CD3) – INCredible (2002)[141]
  • Mixmag Live: Fergie – DMC (2004)[142]
  • Toolroom Presents Rhythm Distrikt 02 Mixed By Fergie – Toolroom Records (2012)

DJ Mix Albums (Magazine Cover CDs)[edit]

  • M8 Presents Trade Hotmix '99 Compiled and Mixed By Fergie and Guy Williams – M8 Magazine (1999)
  • Let There Be Hard House – Mixmag (2000)[13]
  • Fergie's Funky Techno Mix – Mixmag (2003)[78]
  • DJ International Allstars: Fergie – DJ Magazine (2004)[16]

Essential Mixes (Broadcast on BBC Radio 1)[edit]

  • Studio session (2001)[143]
  • Live from Godskitchen, Leeds (2001)[69]
  • Studio session (2001)[144]
  • Live from Godskitchen, Birmingham (2001)[145]
  • Live from Trade, London (2002)[77]
  • Live from Eden, Ibiza (2003)[146]
  • Live from Radio 1's Big Weekend, Sunderland (2005)[147]
  • Live from Global Gathering (2005)[148]
  • Live from Space, Ibiza (2005)[149]
  • Live from Meganite, Ibiza (2006)[150]
  • Live from Ibiza (2006)[151]
  • Live from Lush!, Northern Ireland (2006)[152]
  • Studio session (2007)[153]

Filmography[edit]

List of television and home video appearances
Title Year Role Notes
First Stop[154] 2002 Himself Featured in an item on the show, broadcast on BBC Two Northern Ireland.
Godskitchen - Global Gathering The Movie[50] 2002 Interview.
Ministry Of Sound: The Annual 2003 DVD[155] 2002 "Fergie In Belfast" short film.
Super DJ's[156] 2004 A BBC documentary broadcast on BBC Three.
Creamfields 2004[157] 2004 Interview, broadcast on MTV Dance.
Inside Out[158] 2006 Featured in an item on the show, broadcast on BBC One Northern Ireland.
Fox & Friends[131][159] 2016 A guest appearance in an item aired on Fox News.

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