Exclusive Interview With Markus Schulz: UMF 2013 & North American SCREAM Tour
If you were down in Miami this year for Ultra Music Festival, Miami Music Week and WMC you know it was epic as always. We came in on the second weekend and got a chance to hang out on South Beach and go to Ultra. There was a flood of artists down there for all the events and we managed to score an interview with trance legend Markus Schulz before his performance at A State of Trance 600 at Ultra Music Festival. Markus recently teamed up with Ferry Corsten to debut his brand new DJ duo New World Punx and is set to hit the road on his North America SCREAM Tour. We dive into all of this.
Q: So you are originally from Germany?
Yes. I was born in Germany and then moved to the US when I was 13.
Q: Do you ever go visit and stay in Germany at all?
Yes. I have an apartment over there and during the summer time when I do the Ibiza season and all the European festivals, I stay in Berlin. It is nice to have a house here in Miami and a place in Berlin. It is like total opposites from one another.
Q: Do you have family in Germany?
My brothers are there. My father is there. I think most of my family is in Germany and only a handful are over in the US.
Q: You have family here?
My mother remarried when I was 13 which is why we moved to the US. I have another brother and my mother’s sister lives out here as well. So I have a small amount of family here. I say about 75% of my family is located in Germany.
Q: You think that German influence helps you at all with your music production?
No, not really. I am doing my own thing I think. Germany is a much more different vibe. It is much more techno, much more minimal, even though it is changing. So I was never really inspired by the Germany techno or anything like that. And I am also not traditional US style either. I think the biggest influence for me was when I lived in London for a few years. I had a studio in Brixton on Coldharbour Lane. At the time, drum ‘n bass was really big and I was in this studio area where my neighbor was a drum ‘n bass producer. Across the hall from me was a trance producer, Mike Koglin, Pablo Gargano, even a live band had their practice space there. It was drum ‘n bass basslines with the trance melodies and the house grooves. That to me was the biggest influence to me rather than anything else. It was my own style.
So you were infused within a melting pot of different styles. I remember DJ Mag stating in an article that your style wasn’t going to last, and then the next thing you know, they are saying it’s the greatest thing out there.
It’s true. The scene got a little tired. And then it just reinvented itself in a huge way. And it is great to see the scene expanding so rapidly.
Q: How is the scene in America affected your career?
Well all of a sudden I have become almost a spokesperson for the scene here in the US. For me, I have seen it all. Or at least I feel like I have. And I can really talk intelligently about the scene and what I see going on. Like I said, it is really exciting what is going on, but there is also a lot of history to it that I hope doesn’t get forgotten about. There were a lot of warriors in this scene who have done it about the passion and the love of music. And now, the scene is a lot younger and more commercial. I just hope that the identity of what the scene started off with doesn’t get lost inside of itself.
Q: You are working with Ferry Corsten now. A while ago, you guys released ‘Loops & Tings’ which kind of gave the music a whole new sound the youth had never heard and it was brand new to them.
It’s not just me though. There are a lot of guys that have kind of rehashed some older tracks because those melodies are timeless. They are classics. But it is like giving it a new jacket. Production was so much different back then because they were producing for vinyl back then. In vinyl you had to roll off certain frequencies because you couldn’t press them on vinyl or else they would skip. But now-a-days with digitals, you can put whatever you want. Just as long as the speakers don’t catch on fire.
I remember when I started spinning, I was using vinyl and had all my tracks shipped over from the UK. Now with the introduction of online retailers like Beatport, I can buy ten tracks for ten dollars and not have to worry about shipping.
That’s always nice, but there is just something nostalgic about vinyl. I never got rid of my vinyl. I used to own a record store, and when we closed the store, I kept my entire inventory. I still have all that vinyl. It is something nostalgic when I open up that storage unit and I just see the racks of vinyls. You can just look at a record jacket and all the memories come back. I feel like that is missing when you are looking at a track on you iPod or on your computer. It is just something about seeing that record sleeve, and seeing the stains on that sleeve.
Q: So this brand new partnership with Ferry, New World Punx. Tell us about that.
Well, it started off really organically. Ferry and I had been doing mini gigs together throughout the years. And then at one point we were like, hey, lets do a back-to-back set. And we have a great time. Then we started to do a couple more like that. All of a sudden promoters started requesting us like that. We had so much fun doing it, and we are just on the same wave-length where we just want to have fun doing it. There are so many egos and attitudes in the scene that it is good to connect with someone that I can just have fun with. But requests still kept on coming in for more back-to-back sets, so we decided to do something a little more official. Polish it a little more and give it an official name.
Q: You guys have the comics that are being released alongside it right now as well, correct?
The funny thing I said was Ferry and I, we’re just about having fun while we do this. And the great thing is, everyone around us is just about having fun with it as well. That is where the comics came from. It has kind of just inspired everyone. I just hope no one takes the thing too seriously, because it is just a way for us to have fun. At the same time, it is definitely cool. The New World Punx will have its own sound and own identity for sure. Ferry has his own sound. I have my own unique sound. But when we get together and do New World Punx, it is going to have its own unique sound as well. It’s unicorn-slaying.
Q: HAHA! How did that come about?
A fan had tweeted, if people say trance music is rainbow and unicorns, then Markus Schulz is the unicorn slayer. I retweeted it and it just caught fire from there. All of a sudden, it caught fire. People started showing up with T-shirts that said Unicorn Slayer. So there is like this whole army of unicorn slayers.
Q: Your sets have a very nice groove to it, that kind of makes it feel different from other artists. What makes your sets so different, but yet so much fun?
Well you have to read the crowd because not all crowds are the same. But if you get a crowd that is patient and much more fun, you can really get more into the grooves and just groove out for a while. But sometimes you can tell crowds that are impatient and just want it right away. And when we have that, then of course, you have to modify your set a little bit. But that is what being a DJ is all about. It is about reading the crowd and seeing how far you can push your sets and the boundaries.
Q: Where is the best place for you? Are you more about being in the studio or about touring?
Oh, I mean one feeds the other. When I am touring I am always getting the ideas and saying how I can’t wait to get into the studio. And then when I am in the studio, I get like I can’t wait to try this on tour. When you are in front of the crowd and plays a track and it goes over well, you just get a rush and it inspires you to do it again. For sure the crowds inspires me, and when I am in the studio, I am always working to create something special for the crowd.
Q: What was your favorite performance? One that really stood out to you?
Wow, that is a really tricky question just because I have had so many epic performances. My New Years Eve show in LA was amazing. I had an amazing time here at Space this past Sunday, when I played out on the terrace for 10 hours.
Q: How is playing for 10 hours? How do you program that?
You program it like you are 3 different DJs. You program a proper opening set. Your peak hours set. Then your weird, twisted, druggy afterhours set. Those kind of sets are always fun. But I love festival sets as well. Those kind of sets always present their own challenges. When you are playing in front of 50,000 people. You cannot let up and you can’t really take chances. Like I said, it could be fun in its own way because you have to kind of lean on your production skill to produce versions and edits that work for a stadium.
Q: I have been asking people this and they have been getting a little stumped with it. If your set was a story, what kind of story would it be?
Well, definitely like an Alice In Wonderland type story, where you start up above the ground and then you end up down a rabbit hole where just weird stuff happens. I think that’s the coolest thing about my sets, especially my longer sets. I just put on a track and I take a step back and close my eyes and I go like, wow. Because some of those tracks that are in my long sets, I have heard on my iPod or I have heard in my car, but I have never heard them on a giant sound system in front of thousands of people. I think that is why I do what I do. I am a fan of the music myself.
That is really good because it feels like there are a lot of jaded people out there and people with their egos.
And that is why I think the extended sets are important. That is when you can explore a little bit more, and you can feed that creative hunger that I know I have, living inside of me.
Q: How do you get inspired?
Just experiences. My environment. And even my past experiences. Danny Tenaglia is a big influence on me. I have seen Danny’s marathon sets and I have just gotten lost in the music. They way that he programs his sets, told a story and inspired me as well.
Tell us about the A State of Trance tour so far for you.
The whole tour has been really, really good. Sao Paulo was fantastic. Mexico City was amazing. Then of course, we are doing the ASOT here in Miami and I am also going to do the Madison Square Garden show and it is just fantastic. To see all the love and support there is from the trance fans, they’re the best fans in the world. They are genuine. They are family. They are a strong community, and to be part of that community is just an honor.
Q: So you are about to embark on your North American SCREAM Tour. What are you most looking forward to?
Well it’s been a particular dream of mine for quite a number of years. So to answer that, I think I can say pretty much every aspect. I grew up listening to rock bands, Pink Floyd, Led Zep and 100s of others, hearing the crazy on-the-road tour tales. The chance to follow in just a few of those footsteps is going to be amazing.
Aside from that the entire show has been planned and designed as a Markus Schulz production. There’s no going into clubs and working with what they already have in place. The whole thing’s custom. We arrive, the rig goes in, the lights go in, the hardware is set-up and off we go.
Q: What can the fans look forward to who will be attending these shows?
Doesn’t matter where the show is, you’re going to be hearing and seeing something way more spectacular than you’d imagine. It’s set up more like a concert that ‘just’ a DJ set.
Q: Any special surprises or new tracks you will be dropping?
I’ve just premiered my first New World Punx track with Ferry Corsten (‘Romper’). We dropped it at Mansion at our debut show and it brought the house down. You’re definitely going to be hearing some of that action.
Q: Is there any city in particular that you are most excited to make a stop in?
The tour is going to give me the chance to play not only the cities I’ve loved to rock for many years now, but also places I’ve either never spun or haven’t managed to get back to for too, too long. So I’d say all of them, but for different reasons.
Q: For the tour, you are bringing along KhoMha and The M Machine. What do you like most about each of these artists that you wanted to bring them on tour with you?
Two completely opposite reasons, actually. KhoMha – as many of your readers probably know – is one of my protégé’s. When it comes to music, we’re 100% in sync. When I look how far he’s come in 18 months it makes me very proud. So he was just a shoo-in for the tour. We also felt that it would be good to get some contrast going on as well, which is where The M Machine guys come in. I’ve been loving their sound for a while, so when the tour manager put them them up as a support act, I jumped at it.
Q: When traveling, do you like to pull any tricks or hijinks on one another?
This is the first time I’ve toured in this capacity – on a bus, over so many dates, so it kind of pastures new. But, in terms of tricks and hijinks… bet on it! I’m blogging the whole tour, start to finish, so to stay on top of what happens, check MarkusSchulz.com daily!
Q: What is the most important advice you can give to anyone about traveling on a tour?
Take regular showers and pack plenty of pairs of clean socks. If anyone starts funking up my home-away-from-home, they might find themselves hitching to the next gig
We’d like to thank Markus Schulz and his amazing PR team from Stark Profiles for the amazing interview.
North American SCREAM Tour Dates
4/10/13 Boston, MA Royale
4/11/13 Philadelphia, PA Soundgarden Hall
4/12/13 Buffalo, NY Rendezvous
4/13/13 Washington D.C. Echostage
4/16/13 Charlotte, NC Phoenix
4/17/13 Nashville, TN Anthem
4/18/13 St. Charles, MO Nightclub at Ameristar
4/19/13 Dallas, TX Lizard Lounge
4/20/13 Kennesaw, GA Magnetic Music Festival
4/21/13 Austin, TX Haven
4/24/13 Tulsa, OK Cain’s Ballroom
4/26/13 Denver, CO The Church
4/27/13 Albuquerque, NM Expo Center
4/28/13 Tucson, AZ Rialto Theatre
5/8/13 San Diego, CA Fluxx Nightclub
5/9/13 San Diego, CA Fluxx Nightclub
5/10/13 Scottsdale, AZ The Venue Scottsdale
5/11/13 Los Angeles, CA Avalon Hollywood