Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Markus Schulz

Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Markus Schulz

Boy do I have a treat for you today. My passion for dance music just doesn’t seem to be slowing down and in an effort to meet as many acts as I can while I write for this blog, I have come across a talent that I demand you listen to. I have been working with Made Event over the last few months helping spread the word about Electric Zoo. The event might not start until September 4th, but that doesn’t mean I can’t write about how excited I am. During this two day event you will hear the beats of some of the world’s best DJs and get the chance to meet people from all over the world who have come together for one great cause; dance music. One of those acts is sitting with me here today. He just released a new disc called Do You Dream and is preparing for a busy end of the year. You will find him performing in the Hilltop Arena with acts like Paul van Dyk and Glenn Morrison on Saturday, September 4th, 2010. When I found out that I was going to be working with him, I didn’t know where to start. I have been listening to his work for years and it was a real pleasure getting to know him better. I am excited to introduce you to the one and only Markus Schulz.

Where are you originally from?

I am from Eschwege, Germany.

You are currently living in Miami. You like the heat down there?

It’s an amazing city, amazing vibe. I love the ocean and, yes, the warm weather. I’m on the road a lot, so for me to be able to go home to Miami is very welcome.

You have played in countries all over the world. Do you have a favorite city you like to visit?

No favorites, it’s sort of a rule of mine. I’ve found in the past that if you come with anything other than a long-considered answer to ‘favorite’ questions you can fall foul of yourself. You can look back and think, “Now why did I say that then when I’ve been to so many other incredible places?” Was that really fair? The other thing with doing so much in-and-out traveling is that you never really have the time to really get the full, proper measure of at place. Hence if I said that X, Y or Z places was ‘favorite’ just because I went to one amazing after-party, it wouldn’t be balanced or reflected on enough.

What is the biggest crowd you have ever performed in front of?

40,000, I think.

The smallest?

Probably 2. My son and my dog!

When you perform in Las Vegas, do you ever gamble?

I do, but not very often. A roll of the dice here, turn of the card there, if I’m walking past a table. I did have a stake on the Superbowl though. Happy to say that came off!

Tell me a little bit about your new album.

Well it’s called Do You Dream? If your local music store had a section marked ‘not 100% trance’, it would probably slot right in there! There are many tracks on there that I personally find impossible to categorize. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about the first track ‘Alpha State’ is beatless and has some lovely slow arpeggios in it, but it could never be called ‘chillout’ or ‘ambient’ – in terms of the album’s overture its way too intense and scene-setting. Likewise there’s a track called ‘Away’ (which has the fantastic vocals of Sir Adrian on it). It’s got real pace and tempo and drive behind it, but nothing really overt in terms of riffs – just this really amazing rolling bass-line and the vocals that carry it. It’s not tech-trance, it’s not deep trance – I really don’t know how you’d classify it!

The title, I wanted to put in the form of a question: do you dream? I want people to interpret that in their own individual way. As questions go it’s a highly open-ended one!

It’s been long enough since my last album that’s I’ve had time enough to hear many other vocalists singing on other tracks. When you do you either think to yourself, “I like that voice but I’m not sure its right for what I want to do,” or, “heh, that sounds great! I think I’d like to work with that person”. That was very much the case for people like Susana, Jennifer Rene and Ana Criado too. In terms of the vocals, I don’t write them, no. I leave that down to the lyrical professionals! I was very lucky indeed to have many talented ones working on the album. Raz Nitzan and Adrian Brockhuyse are two guys from the Netherlands and they wrote the lyrics for three of the tracks (Away, Surreal & Unsaid). These guys are basically the hit machine when it comes to electronic dance music. If you look them up their list of credits is really extraordinary.

So I hear you first started getting into dance music when you were young. What made you decide to make a career out of it?

There comes a breaking point I think. One day you’re thinking this is great, it would be a dream to do it for a living. And then something snaps and you think, “Heh, what’s stopping me, why the hell not!” And off you go!

How many stamps do you have in your passport?

Unknown! I don’t have it on me I’m afraid (which is unusual!). Let’s just say a lot!

Who do you think would win in a pillow fight between Armin van Buuren and Paul van Dyk?

Man, I’ve seen both those guys swing pillows in the past and let me tell you its fierce! I think that Paul would probably get some really good early shots in, but ultimately Armin would prevail. Now if you’d said snowball fight, probably the reverse would be true.

Do you speak any languages other than German and English?

Fluently, that’s my two. However you can’t travel the world all year round without picking up the odd phrase or two in a different language!

You are currently working with Armada Music. What is like working with a label as a DJ?


Do you still have a lot of creative freedoms?

Well it’s not quite George Michael at Sony or Prince and Warner. Creative freedom isn’t really a factor. I take my music in, sit down, play it to them and get their feedback. The spread of music on Do You Dream is a case in point to that I think.

I see you are on Twitter. What are your thoughts on these social media outlets available to you today?

I am indeed on Twitter, but then so is my dog! I’m a fan of virtually all social media; they all serve their own individual purposes. I think that maybe I’m just that much more of a fan of Twitter though, specifically because it’s just so neat. You say what’s on your mind and then it’s out there. I sometimes think of it as digital-therapy. You’re feeling something, you’ve experienced something and it allows you to instantly ‘share’. There’s nothing wrong with that; I think it’s great.

Do you have any rituals before you go on stage?

Yep, my pre-set checks…CDs and DVDs packed, headphones working, sound recording equipment ready to roll, drinks close at hand. You get the idea!

What are you drinking on stage?

Vodka and water, though not in equal measures and not necessarily in that order!

You used to have a spot at the Works in Phoenix, Arizona for quite some time. I am actually planning on moving to Scottsdale in the near future. Can we hang out sometime after a show?

The location for The Works is now a parking lot but I’m sure that we can! Have your people call my people!

You worked with Armin on A State of Trace. What is he like in person?

Very, very down to earth. If you see him doing one of his videos, where he’s interviewing people and you think, “That guy looks really on the level”. Well you’re right. That’s just what he’s like.

How cool is it to be considered one of the top 10 DJs in the world according to DJ Magazine?

It is cool, certainly. It is nice that what I do throughout each working year is reflected in someway. But let me put it to you this way, what I get up thinking about every morning isn’t the Top 100, it’s about where I am in the world, which country, city and club I’m rocking next and what I’m going to rock it with!

If you could only perform one track for the rest of your career, which one would you choose?

Impossible! It’s that old favorites thing again!

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

Top of the world, looking down (I hope)!

What do you want to be remembered for when this is all said and done?

As a guy who came along, made some music, went out and played that music (along with a lot of other peoples), blew some parties apart, made lots of people happy and did okay out of it.

I always let the artist get the last word. Go.

Lipsmackinthirstquenchinacetastinmotivatingoodbuzzincooltalkinhighwalkin fastlivinevergivincoolfizzin!