Markus Schulz

Markus Schulz is a German/American DJ and producer specializing in trance. After joining the folks at Ministry of Sound and moving to London to pursue his dream, Markus then firmly planted himself in the electronic musical world of Miami. He has polled 10 years straight in DJ Mag’s Top 100, won Best American DJ at the IDMA´s and has spun at just about every festival and major club in the world. His extensive touring schedule doesn’t stop him from creating magical music though; his 2015 Trance Nation mixed by Markus Schulz album pushed his name up to the top contenders in the electronic dance world. Now, with his 2016 album ´Watch The World´ tearing dance floors apart, Markus doesn’t look like he´s slowing down one bit. We caught up with the articulate Markus Schulz before he appears at Invasion Festival in Jakarta on September 24 and at Sky Dome Bali on Sept 30 to ask some questions about his latest album and a lot more.
How’s it going Markus? Where in the world are you at this moment?
Hey guys, thanks for having me. I’m doing well thanks. I’m currently speaking to you from Los Angeles, in between successive weekends for the Watch the World album tour. So I have had a few days here to conduct meetings in planning for 2017, and also get caught up with some studio work.
What were your early musical inspirations?
I had a difficult childhood and as a result of that, I discovered that my best escape from it all was music. I would listen to the radio at night and get lost in the sounds. A lot of people will be surprised when I say this, but most of my influence comes from classic rock. Bands like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, ELO and Manfred Mann. The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd for me is the best album that has ever been made, and continues to inspire me today. On the electronic side, the likes of Kraftwerk and Depeche Mode were really pushing boundaries, and that captivated my imagination too. When it was cloudy at night, I was able to pick up college stations playing dance music on the radio, and that’s where I discovered DJs such as Mr. Magic, Red Alert, Tony Humphries and the Latin Rascals.
How did you get into producing / DJing?
After struggling to fit in with general society after moving to the US, I gravitated towards the rest of the outcasts, and our bond was based on the love for breakdancing. We would make mixtapes, trade them with each other, and hold get-togethers to do our thing. It eventually led to the stage where we had to organize a party. And this is how I managed to secure my first break in the DJ world. So we hired a venue inside a hotel for the “big” event. The idea was that we would all take turns to DJ throughout the evening, and everyone was excited at the prospect. But on the night itself, everyone else got cold feet, so I wound up DJing for the entire duration of the party. The owner of the hotel was impressed with what he saw, so he offered me a job. And that was the moment I figured out exactly what I was put on this earth to do.
How was the music scene in the US back then?
The hip-hop and breakdance scenes were massive, so I started collecting vinyl, with the very first purchase being Zapp and Roger – More Bounce to the Ounce. The likes of Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel and Scorpio were really important influences for me too – that’s why it was a bit of a boyhood dream coming true when I got to work with them on the vocal version of the Dakota track Sleepwalkers back in 2011. I could never have imagined dance music blowing up in the country in the way that it did.
Your vocal tracks have had a lot of great reviews, can you talk us through the creative process of one of your bigger hits “Destiny”. What made that one tick?
Destiny came about because of my personal relationship, where you meet someone in your life that you never knew before, but felt destined to be inspired by them beyond belief. I met Delacey for the first time during a studio session in Los Angeles, and I got into detail about the song, and the story I was trying to tell. When she sang it back to me, it was one of the most touching moments I have ever experienced. Collectively, we said to ourselves, this could be special. But when you’re in the studio, you just never know whether or not it will connect with a listening audience. Musically, what I wanted to do with Destiny in particular was to present more of an old-school musical arrangement. Nowadays everyone is producing tracks where the extended mix is barely passing four or five minutes in length, but with Destiny I wanted to present the aspect of a journey within a journey, resulting in the extended mix clocking in past the ten minute mark. I can’t express enough how incredible the response from the fans has been. And that response was the primary catalyst towards Watch the World being more of a songwriting-based project.

Now that your album, Watch the World has been out for a while can you give us an insight of any projects you are working on at the moment?
Over the past few weeks I have been busy A&Ring remixes from the Watch the World album, and have been slowly filtering them into my live sets. Those of you who have been tuned to Global DJ Broadcast recently will have heard the likes of 4 Strings remixing In the Night and Anske remixing Summer Dream. So I’m hoping that I will have a few more done in the next two weeks to debut in Bali. These remixes will combine with some new originals to yield a deluxe version of the Watch the World album, which comes out before the end of the year. Transmission in Prague is coming up at the end of October, and once again I am responsible for creating the event theme this year; called The Lost Oracle. I’m currently roadtesting and fine tuning it in my current sets, so it should be good to go soon. And not to give too much away for now, but I have quietly been working on some new Dakota material.
Are there any up and coming trance producers that you have been working with that you would like to shout out?
There are quite a few, and that’s one of the most gratifying aspects of the industry for me – finding these talents, taking them under your wing and guiding them. The people that I really believe in, I’ll encourage them to come on board to my Schulz Music Group artist management and bookings agency. The first to mention is Nifra, who I believe is playing a very significant role in changing the attitude that females deservedly belong in the conversation of top DJs worldwide. She has been on the road with me in supporting capacity for much of my shows this year so far, and it’s so nice to see her career developing step by step. Her set building ability is excellent and I can’t wait to see what comes out of her studio time in the coming months. Dutch duo Fisherman & Hawkins have made great strides in the past twelve months also, thanks to releases such as Never the Same and Oblivion, and remixing Hardwell & Armin van Buuren’s Off the Hook. They have been touring a lot in Asia, and they rave to me about the Indonesian audience. We’ve also recently signed another duo, this time comprising of two English brothers under the name of Arkham Knights. They have this incredible fusion of big melodies with tough and dirty tech trance that reminds me so much of Tiesto’s sets during the period of his ascendancy towards the top. And a mention also has to go to Canadian Solid Stone, who is doing amazing things on the progressive side of trance, and was proudly responsible for the first ever artist album on the label, entitled Introspection. So much of his material is fueling my solo sets.
Do you have any favorite tracks in mind that you know you will play at your gig in Sky Dome, Bali?
We just hit the milestone of 250 releases on Coldharbour Recordings, and in continuing with the tradition it is a new production from yours truly entitled Sestertius. Everyone has been very kind with their responses to the track, as well as picking up a lot of support from fellow DJs, so I think it will be a big moment in the set. I also recently worked with Arkham Knights on a remix of Hilight Tribe’s Free Tibet, which has been one of the biggest tracks all summer long. I wanted to have a version that would blend into my own sets, and it’s doing the business very well. Along with those, a lot of what you will have been hearing recent on Global DJ Broadcast. The likes of Aero by Dan Thompson vs. Solis & Sean Truby, Flame from the Past by Alter Future, Look Back by Andy Moor & Somna, and many more.
What do you think about the electronic music scene in Indonesia? You have been here a few times, correct?
I think it’s one of the countries in the world where the scene is growing rapidly. I see an increase in interest for what we do with every visit. And since the office has began expanding the Coldharbour Nights outside of the United States, Indonesia is one of the most popular and in-demand locations for our artists to play. A week prior to Bali I am playing at the Invasion Festival in Jakarta, and hopefully that is an event which can continue to grow and become a big destination spot in the calendar of the dance music world. If it grows, the scene in Bali will benefit greatly too.
Do you have a favorite club or festival that you try to get to often around the world?
That’s such a difficult question to just give one answer. I’m really lucky to have a lot of cities around the world where the fans treat me as one of their own. So I guess the best way is to talk about a few of them and give reasons why. Space in Miami is an obvious choice, because it’s where I’ve lived for over 10 years now. It was thanks to my weekly residency in the club, coupled with Global DJ Broadcast; that helped establish my name on a worldwide basis. Back when I was a resident I would be warming up for all the big international DJs, so every time I come back after travelling all over the world, the same friends and fans are there supporting me, which make the nights feel so special. When I was preparing for my solo set at Space during Winter Music Conference, I felt like a kid at Christmas. And I’m really fortunate to be able to do it again on New Year’s Eve this year. Another obvious one is Prague, and that is primarily because of my close association with Transmission and the people, and how much it means to me on a personal level. But also because of the open to close solo sets we have shared together at the SaSaZu venue. Montreal houses one of my favorite clubs in the legendary Stereo. It’s one of the few clubs remaining in the world that has that dark and dirty vibrancy; the innocence of clubbing. It’s a really intimate setting, and because Montreal is so unique with its clubbing habits, their peak hour is at 6am rather than 1am. I would encourage everyone to go clubbing in Montreal at least once, either at Stereo or Bal en Blanc. London is another city where I have great affection, stemming from the two year sabbatical on Coldharbour Lane. It’s a pretty incredible story to go from being a clubber watching the big names at Ministry of Sound, to then become their international resident. I first performed there as a DJ in 2008, and after the first experience, they made me a resident to play there more several times a year. And because of that, you gain a familiarity with the crowd, and establish a trust to debut material in your sets before everywhere else. And because London is so accessible, it houses a large number of fans who travel in from mainland Europe to attend the nights.
How does it feel when you are on stage and drop a big bomb behind a zillion watt stack of sound and the crowd of thousands goes mental? Does that feeling ever change?
To me, that is the biggest inspiration anyone could utilise while in the studio – meeting the fans and seeing their reactions while performing on stage. It helps me harness that passion to put my soul into all of the studio work. One feeds the other – the fans inspire me to get into the studio, and when I am in the studio, I’m inspired by the thought of playing a new track out for the fans. You see some of those incredible photos of the big shows – Transmission in Prague with all the lasers, the spectacle of Tomorrowland and EDC, or the intimacy of Ministry of Sound or Space, and they are rich sources of inspiration. I’ll regularly change my screen saver to a photo of a previous visit to a certain club or event, and my brain becomes very active when focusing on the picture on a daily basis. I think there’s something absolutely magical how a melody can connect so many people around the world and unite.
Markus Schulz will headlining Invasion Festival on Saturday Sept 24 and Sky Dome on Friday 30 September 2016. Be there for the party, music and experience.

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