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Having now clocked over 20 years playing beats around the globe, not to mention bringing one of NZ’s most esteemed New Year's parties to life, it is somewhat understandable that the name precedes the man.


Not that it makes the man any less recognisable, there is no mistaking those tie-dyed tees, nor the chunky, deep, progressive tunes he hurls from the decks.John Paul Moss, aka Ferksta has been a mainstay in the electronic community for a Very Long Time, and it shows. He has been a purveyor of parties since way back, when raves were new and not yet the thing of myths and legends, and his event brand Velvet, of the late 90's and double 0's, would come to be seen as the setter of standards, a legend in its own right, and a heralder of things to come.

Those years of experience in putting it down can be thanked for the countless journeys they have provided. The driving basslines that should come with a warning, twisted psychedelic time-travels that teeter on the edges of sanity, euphoric soundscapes that touch upon those hard to find places inside, all only a mere taster of what Ferksta provides.And now here he is, twenty years deep yet showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, if anything, he is picking up speed…We had a little sit down and chat about all things doof...

How were you bitten by the bug? (House & Techno)

Kia ora e hoa! Finding house music was a transitional thing. From my early electronic interests ranging from the likes of Yello, Jean-Michel Jarre & other 80’s fair, I bumbled my way into the UK rave scene in 1990 where I was treated with early house then techno… But at that stage jungle was my `ting. Really it was the girls and boys at the Box, Cause Celebre and other clubs in the early days that swung my taste. I fully skipped the whole German robot-face, synth thing. I still don’t get Kraftwerk. So I guess I’m not proper techno but hey I am originally British after all!

What are some of the differences in our scene between then and now and what are the positives and negatives?

I’ve watched it all grow, morph, shine, shit itself and now bloom again. If Sample Gee’s claim that he put on the first proper rave in Nov 1991 is the benchmark, well then I actually put on the first proper rave in Aotearoa in August 1991. Since then I’ve been in and around the scene sometimes in the background, other times the underground, sometimes as a viewer and sometimes in the foreground with Velvet and now AUM. I’ve seen it all and what stands out more than anything to me is that the underground remains strong, and right now we are in a full and beautiful renaissance.

I’ve noticed over the last 7 years or so promoters have really started to show care and creativity again with their productions. Art, design and real passion is shining through again after a quite dark period of frankly boring-ass shit, which followed our previously thriving scene imploding quite dramatically. There is finally real unity emerging. The once endemic in-fighting and down right nasty behaviour between brands and individuals is dissipating. People are communicating and striving to work together where possible, or at least not shit on each other deliberately, as was a real thing for many years. 

The knock on from this is the music and the dancefloors it is played for are becoming more vibrant, varied and inclusive in all the ways. It’s all wonderful to me and it’s a great time to be doing what we do right now. The elders are mastering their work and the younger generations are starting along their pathways with stunning vibrance, and with real support from the old c*nts. GLORIOUS!

Why did you move into promoting, and who and what was instrumental in this?

Haha! Well… Simply put, from a young age whenever I was at a party, for inexplicable reasons people were always asking me to help out or to fix stuff, and ultimately to take over. So I just started doing it. Bands first back in the late 80’s, it just felt like my thing. It turns out it is.

Biggest lessons learnt?

Whoa. That’s a biggie. So many… I’m incredibly passionate about this subject!Most important? The safety and comfort of your patrons is more important than anything else. Firstly, take care of your people. It’s a very very hard job and not everyone is cut out for it, no matter what they may say. Always treat other promoters and industry people with respect and love, even if they are behaving like c*nts.

What emanates out from the centre of your event creates the vibe, and that is everything. Not everyone is nice, but you can be! Keep doing what you do, what you feel is right. There are people in the business who are massive egomaniacs with plenty of opinions about how, what, when you should or shouldn’t do things. if you pay attention to that entirely you simply won’t get anywhere. Move forward and listen with respect. But do YOUR thing. Do your art first, the money will follow if you are passionate, stubborn and pragmatic enough about it. But, it does take time.

If you model your event on income only you’ll either be sorely disappointed or you will massively compromise the soul of your art.Don’t let anyone touch your décor! Ever!

Diversity and sustainability are hot topics in our world at the moment, something Aum has quietly plugged away at, seemingly without needing any help. And you’ve done it really well. How and why have you done this?

Thank you! Simply because I sincerely give a shit, as do my partners and the team which have come into the fold. Whilst my work and drivers for that could be easily mistaken as pure ego based creativity, and when looking at my work there certainly is that, but the honest truth is I only have one real job: To create beautiful environments for communication, in whatever form that takes. To `hold space’.

To do this effectively, consideration must be given to the environment we are in, which just happens to be paradise. I have seen our home as this type of utopia from a very young age, I LOVE this country so very much. Within that I feel a deeper responsibility to the people, and indeed our children and future generations, to do what I can to `walk the talk’. I listen and act with as much integrity as I can. The environment starts inside. yourself. It feels right. I have children!

Burner culture (which is something I feel you guys promote as well as being a festival that would suit someone outside of this culture) is something that has started to slowly permeate every day life. For me, I really notice this musically, but Burning Man is a festival known by most. Would you agree with this and why?

Hmm this is an interesting question for me. Whilst it’s clear that the burner culture has some elements present at our festival, and we do indeed communicate quite a lot with the KB team on important matters such as consent for example. I love, admire and respect many burners personally and professionally. We share much in the way of collaboration mentality, community spirit etc, and we have indeed combined some of the operational styles within our model. But as an overall operational model it couldn’t be further from what I am comfortable with doing. I’m a control freak for a start! 

Decentralising overall control is just plain scary to me, from a safety and a creative perspective. I have always believed an important part of my job is to not just create a platform, but to actively support artists who still need to live within the current economic model of our culture. So I have spent decades figuring out how to remunerate in the best ways I can. It’s a bloody long hard road I can tell you! In a couple of cases in the past it has taken me years to pay off a loss, but I have done so every time. It’s my job, yeah? The idealistic burner world with a no money system and everyone contributing what they can for a few weeks a year is wonderful for that time and in that environment. But for now at least, they all have to go home after a burn and pay bills.

In fact it’s fair to mention that many burners work at AUM for money which assists their ability to go to Kiwiburn some weeks later. The KB model is not sustainable at a wide scale, for now anyway. Let’s see where the future takes us! Both are valid models but a burner event we most certainly are not, nor are we a straight out commercial event… YUCK!Musically I couldn’t comment. I have always just done what I like in that area, what I feel. I trust my taste but also consider my audience… a bit

What do you think has made AUM so successful and follow up question; what makes a good festival?

Kindness, gratitude, an amazing team and partners, including my beautiful wife sent straight from heaven!!!True and very deliberate inclusivity along with a lack of judgement. The only thing excluded from my events is violence in all of its forms. Mental, verbal or physical. That policy has not changed since my very first event 3 decades ago.

Experience, this isn’t my first rodeo! Stubborn, pragmatic direction towards specific goals despite incredible challenges, personal and professional, and absolutely at times despite the opinions of others.Staying true to my calling, to what I deem as important for why I do this, I’ve never changed my tune. I believe in what I do and why I do it so unswervingly, irrespective of how it appears. That’s my truth.

What makes a good festival? Oh that’s far too subjective. But mostly in my mind it’s COMMUNITY; care and love for ALL of the people involved from the cleaners, to the techs, the artists and of course the audience.  And of course real deep passion for what you are doing, including your art. The rest follows.Mind you, what is a festival these days anyway? Apparently it can be 3 djs at a club on a Wednesday! Hehehehehe

Top 5 must haves for every festival goer?

Kindness & respect towards others including your own clear boundariesSun, cold and wet weather protectionA predetermined place to rest/sleep whilst at the festivalWATER & FOOD!A buddy or 3 – take care of each other! If you attend a festival alone, that’s OK, they can be great places to meet others. Open your heart, the good ones will find you.

Finally, what is good in life?

Everything. Even the bad is good when viewed as such, eventually.I love everything. I love you! Thanks for this opportunity my friends. I truly appreciate it. Shine on!

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