Exclusive Interview: Markus Schulz

Markus Schulz 2012

There is no question Markus Schulz has been at the forefront of the trance scene worldwide for years. Inspiring, refreshing, innovative are just a few words that come to mind when you think of the Coldharbour Recordings and Schulz Music Group owner. His latest compilation, which was released in February, is dedicated to what Markus believes is the epicenter of the dance music scene – Los Angeles. We caught up with Markus after a reinvigorating studio session with another trance legend – Ferry Corsten – during Miami Music Week.

EDMinsider 1 : With over 10 years in the industry, how have you reinvented or adapted the Markus Schulz sound over the years to the ever-changing EDM scene?

Markus Schulz: How would you describe your current creative direction? When I blew up I had this deeper darker more tranquil trance sound when everyone else had the uplifting trance sound. I came with this much deeper vibe and that’s how I cut through. As I started growing and getting more popular I started realizing it’s very harder to play these deeper tracks in front of 20,000 or 30,000 people. My sound started evolving and is more aggressive now. And I think that’s how I’ve been able to evolve as an artist over these years. You start adapting your sets to the rooms you start playing and the festivals that you start playing. This goes for production as well. Love songs are a trend right now in trance and that’s not what I got into the scene for. What’s in me right now is to make music that makes people have a great time on the dance floor and not necessarily cry on the dance floor.

EDMinsider: It’s safe to say you’ve always gone against the grain.

Markus Schulz: Absolutely. That’s always been my motto. I zig when everyone else zags. People have said, “Markus’ sound has done this or that,” but a lot of the trance sounds started coming towards what I was doing. I noticed that as I was getting more popular, more and more guys started doing that deeper trance sound. And now I’m doing what fans and the media are labeling as “unicorn-slaying trance.” And now you’re starting to hear Aly & Fila and even Above & Beyond playing some “unicorn-slaying” grooves. You zig when everyone else zags and eventually they come over to where you are and that’s sort of been the cycle for me.

EDMinsider 2: You recently released the compilation Los Angeles ’12 in February. How did you decide which tracks would be featured on this compilation? Why was Los Angeles chosen for 2012?

Markus Schulz:  I do a city series compilation every year and I dedicate it to a city that has inspired me. This year I choose Los Angeles because it’s the epicenter of the whole dance music explosion here in the United States. What’s happening in the United States needed to be represented and I had so many amazing gigs there so it was very natural to choose LA. I do my compilations differently; I don’t just go to Beatport to download the biggest tracks and mix them together and say, “here’s my compilation.” I actually work with all of the artists and show them a vision of what I’m trying to do with this compilation. It’s almost like a collaborative effort with all of these artists. At the end of the day, the compilations represent what it is that I am trying to put out there musically. The cool thing about these compilations is that all these tracks fuel my DJ sets for the entire summer. There are a lot of tracks on the compilation that you’ll be hearing me play at the big festivals all summer long.

EDMinsider 3: What is your favorite part about Miami Music Week? Being based in Miami yourself, how do you feel the EDM culture in the city has changed over the years?

Markus Schulz: My favorite part is being able to sleep in my own bed since I live here! This week, whether it’s Winter Music Conference or Miami Music Week, there are crazy parties going on because it’s spring break. People are coming from all over the world to party. The fact that they’ve turned this week into a giant music festival is great; there’s a real music scene that comes to South Beach every March. This is our (electronic dance music) moment. This is our week. This is our month here in Miami. It’s really worked because over the course of the past 10 years the music has grown so much and it’s a collaborative effort from the resident club djs, to those who organize giant festivals and conferences like this.

EDMinsider 4 There was a debate going on between Miami or Vegas and which would become the center of dance music culture in the States. Instead, you would argue it’s Los Angeles.

Markus Schulz: Each one has their moments. At the end of the day, Miami is very tourist driven from Europe and South America. There are people who could sell out Miami that could never get booked in Las Vegas and vice versa. Las Vegas and Los Angeles, to me, are connected. When I play Las Vegas and look at the audience and I recognize people from LA. It’s close enough to travel. I just think this country is so big we have a few little major players and they each have their own vibe. If you think about it, the United States is the size of Europe; It’s like saying the scene in Amsterdam is leading Europe over London. It’s too big to have one scene leading the charge. That being said, LA represents what’s happening right now all over the United States – the scene has blown up.

EDMinsider 5: Your weekly Global DJ Broadcast has become a Thursday staple amongst the global trance family over the years. How has the radio show evolved over the years? Will we be seeing any GDJB festivals or events anytime soon?

Markus Schulz: We don’t really number our shows like everyone else. Who knows how many episodes we’ve done. It’s not a weekly magazine of all the new stuff. The Global DJ Broadcast aims to discover new artists, but we also have guest mixes. We have a loyal passionate fan base and do things our own way and because of that people have appreciated it. We also have our own list of radio stations that we’re on. We’re on radio stations that don’t even play trance music.


EDMinsider 6: Beginning your own EDM label Coldharbour Recordings back in 2005, what does the future hold for the label as far as new artists or releases?

 Markus Schulz We were releasing all these tracks from amazing artists over the years and I felt a lot of these artists were being overlooked. One of the things I’ve done this year is start a management company. We’ve already signed KhoMha, Mr. Pit, Grube & Hovsepian and a singer/songwriter (Adina Butar) that I’m working with on my new album. My whole vision is to take these people to another level rather than just releasing their tracks. I’m really working with them on all aspects of their career. I’ve been doing this long enough to know who the right promoters are that they should be playing for, the right remixes they should take on, and the clubs they should be playing in. These guys that I’ve signed are amazing producers and for whatever reason haven’t been given the opportunity or exposure. KhoMha, for example, is going to be a star. The first time I heard him play live was at our Coldharbour party during Miami Music Week and I even went out on the dance floor. He’s 21 years old and from Columbia; he has this swag to him when he dances on stage. I was watching him and thought to myself you’re ready for Ultra Music Festival main stage right now. And he was stuck in Columbia. To find someone like that and make their dreams come true is the next step for me.

EDMinsider 7: The A&R game has changed. You’re attempting to bring it back to what it used to be – actually scouting artists as opposed to them just being handed to you.

Markus Schulz: Yes. One of the things that has happened with digital music is you can release tracks really fast. The music scene really started speeding up. Every week there would be tons of new releases. It’s getting back to, for me at least, finding artists you really believe in and help them achieve their dreams. Otherwise all people are doing are just making tracks, delivering them and putting them up on Beatport. It becomes a cycle and then it becomes static. Where’s the personality? What’s behind all of that? To be honest with you, the scene can get pretty tired. A lot of new artists have popped up and given the scene new life. Now, you’re seeing new faces like Avicii and Afrojack. They may not produce the style of music you like, but the attitude is different. It’s turned the scene on its head again. It’s healthy for the scene to have fresh talent. We can’t recycle the same top 5 DJs and expect the scene to grow.

EDMinsider 8: You have collaborated with many of the best names in EDM over the years. Who is someone you have yet to work with or would like to work with again on a future release?

Markus Schulz: Well, my thing is working with young up-and-coming new guys. To me, that’s the biggest thrill. However, I’ve been in the studio with Ferry (Corsten) and we’ve done two tracks already. We’ve been friends for a really long time, but we’ve never done a track together. We really clicked; we were laughing, high fiving each other and dancing around the studio. It wasn’t even work. We got back to what it was that got us into the scene in the first place and that was just having fun and loving the music. After we finished our work in the studio, the track was still stuck in our heads. We were texting each other at 4 AM saying, “Dude, I can’t get this out of my head!” Sometimes this turns too much into a business and when you start getting management and agents involved that’s when you see all the wars and politics that goes on in this scene, but you put two artists like me and Ferry in the studio together and it just clicks. It’s unfortunate, because I know a lot of guys that are so involved with the business side of things that they’ve sort of lost touch with the art. Let’s get back to why we got into this scene in the first place. We’re all going to have a great next five years because the scene is exploded. There’s no reason this time needs to be monopolized and crazy.


EDMinsider 9: What hints can you give fans as to what’s in store for Markus Schulz for the duration of the year for tours, new releases, etc.?

Markus Schulz: I’m working on my next artist album. We’re hoping to have that finished by the middle of the summer. I’m really happy with the way things are going. I’ve got some new singers that I’ve discovered that I think are stars. I want to just tell you everything because I’m so excited, but I know I’m not allowed to do anything until contracts are signed. But I don’t care about that! I just want to tell you what we’re doing! There are a lot of really cool collaborations and special singers that I’m working with.

Article by: Meryl Luzzi

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