Real talk with the New York shapeshifter.
There's a lot more to Dennis Ferrer than "Hey Hey," the 2009 vocal house hit that changed his life. The track, with its sing-along hook and sleek, big-room appeal, was impossible to avoid in the years following its release. What some people don't know is that Ferrer was making game-changing records since the early years of the New York City techno scene. His releases as Morph, recorded with techno legend Damon Wild, were exemplary of the raw, psychedelic sound of mid-'90s rave music in New York.
Growing up off of Jerome Avenue in the South Bronx in the early '80s, Ferrer had a front-row seat to watch hip-hop's ascendence from regional phenomenon to global money-making machine. "We had these block parties where people used to just take their equipment out into the street and plug it into the lightpoles," he says, sitting in a recording studio in Astoria, Queens, where this week's Exchange took place. "The cops must have decided: why stop them if the kids are having fun and DJing? At least they're all in one spot."
After a brief romance with the techno scene in the mid-'90s, followed by a few years off, he eventually returned to music when his friend and mentor, Kerri Chandler, coaxed him back into the game. Since then, he's become a coach and a mentor in his own right—he gave the Martinez Brothers their first gig when they were still in high school, and now they're among house music's biggest stars. Along the way he's accumulated all kinds of crazy stories (and quite a bit of wisdom, too), which he imparts during this interview with RA staff writer Max Pearl.