Words and Images by Manuel Frayre
Listening to Markus Schulz set live was like a never ending novel. His electric melodies were so eloquent and consistently energetic, like every iconic trance set should be like, no need for overdoing drops or over editing high pitched the vocals. It felt just like a perfect musical narrative. The legendary producer recently stopped by Stereo Live, Dallas’ newest spot for major EDM shows. During his visit we got to talk to him about his life long commitment to Trance music, his inspiration for the new album ‘Watch the World’ and about his early life choices that lead him to be such an institution in the scene.
Manuel Frayre: Welcome back to Texas. Im sure you have some great stories about the Lonestar state, any that come to mind?
Markus Schulz: Probably the after parties, last time I played at the lounge we ended up going to some crazy house parties. That was a lot of fun, it was a lot of people we met at the Groove Cruise. In fact the two things you gotta do in Texas hit the after parties and the local BBQ spots.
MF: Tell me about the progress of Watch the World, how does it compare to previous work from ‘Scream’ and ‘Do you Dream’?
MS: I’ve done quite a few artist albums where i felt like I wanted to do something different with this one. Ever since I was young I used to do a lot of creative writing, Then I started to DJ and twist the knobs. When I started to work on this album I wanted to connect with some talented artist and songwriters and not just write the melodies and drops. But actually start with the stories for all the songs in the album. I think the biggest challenge and the most rewarding thing was working with all these people on the songs and coming out with some interesting stories that connected me with the community, the trance community.
MF: I’ve heard that this project’s foundation was based more off songwriting opposed to starting with the sound production. How do you think this new change of song structuring changed your style?
MS: Well I don’t think it changed my style, because the shows are all the same. When we all got into the studio I said to everybody imagine being on stage trying to connect with the audience. So the whole album was kind of written based off that idea in mind.
MF: It’s been an exciting career for you, playing the biggest stages in the world, leaving a legacy in the Trance and House community. How do you think in comparison to new generations and the success of EDM. Making it now against making it back then. How does it compare?
MS:Its a lot easier to make it now, but it should be about making it but about staying relevant. A lot of artist that come up and make it for one or two years and then they are gone. Ive always felt that having a strong foundation is what makes you part of the scene. The biggest thing right now is having that hit song, but they don’t sell tickets. So I think is about building a fanbase of people who want take their time to come hear you and your set, that’s what’s important.
MF: Sincerely something admirable I’ve noticed is that a lot of people I’ve talk to today traveled from outside the state or even the country to come see you. So I can definitely see what you mean.
MF: The rave scene it’s among the most marketable form of live entertainment in the world now, what are the major differences of the rave scene now vs the 90’s rave scene?
MS: The biggest is technology, back then you were at the mercy of whatever somebody was doing in the studio. You would try to manipulate the music to the best of your abilities, but now you can really craft your show specifically your personality. Now with studio equipment being in your laptop,it becomes more theatrical. Is about a show, intro, the story and the ending. I look at it as a Broadway play, to me that’s what really changed with technology. I’m able to make the show a real personal experience.
MF: Also something that I’ve heard you mention before is that the gay community has been a major influencer of House and trance music, back then only gay clubs were playing this style of music? It was a celebration. Do you think that the EDM music we see today would not have been the same if it wasn’t for the gay clubs in the 90’s?
MS: When I was starting off, the gay scene was the only place you could go to and play forward thinking house music. I remember playing commercial clubs, and I literally got burnt out. I was having anxiety attacks in the Dj booths. I honestly would say “I can’t play this, I can’t do this” And when I started playing at the Gay Clubs I remembered I felt liberated and also felt challenged. The more twisted and wild I got, the more of a reaction I got from the crowd. That to me was when the light bulb came on and I started challenging my own music.
Now days we have gone out to many gay clubs, but I don’t think the music now there is not as forward thinking as before when it comes to house music. The circuit parties definitely are, the music played at the circuit parties are like fire.
MF: One thing I absolutely respect about you is that to you it has always been about the work you put in defines your success, and of course how much partying comes with the success. But I mean with the record label and the Global Dj Broadcast, and now this album, How do you make it all happen?
MS: I think when you are on the outside looking in it looks like ‘Wow,oh my god’, but when you are on the inside and you are living it, it’s just a rhythm. You wake up every morning and take over the day, to me doesn’t feel like it’s a lot it’s just the rhythm of my life. Haha I think that will be the title of my next song ‘Rhythm of my life’’
MF: Do you think that personally you are still growing as an artist with all of these projects?
MS: Well you know what? I think when you know this is your destiny, this is what you were put on this world for; you make peace with it and you live it. The passion just comes out because it’s an amazing life being able to do music and that’s it.
MF: You have never failed to seized an opportunity, out of all the life changing decisions you’ve had to make, from the early remixing in Arizona days to working with London locals and now your residency and broadcast work in Miami, which is these opportunities you think have been the most gratifying to your career?
MS: I think each one is a step in my career, I always try to better myself each set. I still don’t think I play the perfect set, I still don’t think I make the perfect radio show. As long as I am hungry I see each of those opportunities as a step and I don’t say that was the most fun, because then it feels like you have reached your panicle and I don’t think I have reached my pinnacle so I look back at everything as a stepping stone to get me where I want to be.
MF: With so many younger producers now days depending on concept marketing, bringing characters into their persona, a marshmallow, a mouse or different masks. If a younger you had to ever come up with a character. What would it be?
MS: I used to love wrestling back in the day, so I probably do something like a Mr. Wrestling ll mask. Like an old luchador mask. He had the white mask with black eyes, he was my hero.
MF: If you could handpick three artist that spotify could match you with as ‘Related Artist’ who would you like to be paired up with? Uhh
MS: Related Artist? Well of course, Nikki Flores, Brooke Tomlinson, Ethan Thompson, Adina Butar, of course you Eric Prydz I love what he is doing, I’m also really into what Odessa is doing with their last album.
Also another artist that we have signed to the label now, Arkham Knights his music is absolutely on fire. So him as well.
MF: Well congratulations on all of your success, we hope to hear more from you soon not only behind the turntables but also with all your exciting endeavours.
MS: Thank you NAKID, I’ll see you on stage.