Markus Schulz recently mixed the coveted Trance Nation series for Ministry of Sound. You can get your copy here
Welcome back to Trance Hub Markus. How have you been?
Hey guys, thanks for having me. It has been pretty crazy this past while actually. Normally when the summer and Ibiza season comes to an end, things begin to slow down, but definitely not this year.
I am almost six weeks in to a seven week tour on the road, that has taken me to South Africa, Ibiza, China, Japan, Indonesia, Philippines, San Francisco (for one day!), Australia, Malaysia, the Netherlands for Amsterdam Dance Event and England, I am replying to you during a few days in Romania, followed by a weekend in Canada and finally I’ll be able to get home to Miami and into my own bed.
Trance Nation is one of the most coveted compilations around. What special do you have for us in your mix?
First of all, I have to express what a huge honor it was to be asked to be part of Trance Nation. The biggest challenge was producing a compilation worthy to match the prestige of the series.
There are a few tracks in particular that will hopefully attract the attention of people browsing. I get asked so often about releasing material under my Dakota alias, and prior to the Montreal city series track Cathedral, there hadn’t been an official release under the name for over a year; with the productions living exclusively within the boundaries of my livesets.
One Dakota project in particular I held back especially for Trance Nation, and that was the most touching and melodic piece, entitled Twilight of the Night.
I am also privileged to include legendary names such as Giorgio Moroder and Sia on the compilation, through my remix of Deja Vu. It’s got lots of layers that a lot of people who have bought the album have been very complimentary about.
And as always, the Coldharbour family has come through very strong with lots of brilliant material, and much of it we held back deliberately to showcase on the compilation.
I am very thankful to all of the kind feedback you guys have sent so far since buying the CD.
15 exclusive tracks in your Trance Nation compilation. How difficult it is to keep exclusives from artists these days?
Very much so. But I think one of the most special aspects about the members of the Coldharbour family is their patience and their desire to create something special for a project such as Trance Nation.
We have never really taken the approach of hotshotting something by putting it out in the public domain immediately, because there is something very exciting about the anticipation of finding out who is behind that particular ID, or the weeks and months (and sometimes years!) of buildup on Global DJ Broadcast and in the livesets makes the track much more cherished in my opinion.
When I submitted the compilation to Ministry of Sound, they told me that I now hold the record for most exclusives on a Trance Nation project. So I guess we did the job quite well in that regard!
Your relationship with Ministry of Sound goes back many years. What is it about MoS and Markus’ marathon sets?
You know, I am so grateful to have established a relationship with them. Whether it was fate through living in London a few years earlier who knows, but I’d like to think it somehow played a part in our paths crossing.
It was a difficult moment for the guys at The Gallery in early 2008, because their regular Friday night home at Turnmills was closing its doors for good. I played one of the final nights there and was recorded for a Global DJ Broadcast World Tour, and I left London that night pondering that it could be a while before playing a club in the city again.
But their partnership with MOS to host the Friday nights there has been incredible. My first time DJing there was so memorable. They brought me into the office and you see the legendary logo on a set of Technics. You see all of the hugely important compilations they have released. And walking into the club, I thought this could be the beginning of something special.
A month on and I was in Ibiza before a gig. They called me out of the blue and asked to become their international resident. Amazing! We have done seven years together and I am so proud. I keep telling everyone along my travels that they need to experience one of my shows at Ministry of Sound.
It is one of those places where I have the trust to roadtest material before anywhere else in the world.
Even after 20 years in the industry, is there a constant pressure on producers like you to keep making new tracks? Isn’t DJing enough?
Unfortunately there is, primarily for two reasons. One is the huge reduction in sales income due to illegal downloading, where it means that the income you make from your gigs contributes to the biggest portion of what you earn by far.
The second is most likely a side effect of modern society – where the desire is a click, click, instant gratification feeling. Music now has a much shorter shelf life than before, and to be honest that’s one of the reasons why I tend to be more patient with releasing tracks on Coldharbour, because you want people to be able to grow and love these tracks over time, rather than throwing them out and being yesterday’s news almost immediately.
For DJs nowadays, your productions act as your calling card, so you have to always be thinking about that next track to inject into your sets
Your project with Ferry – New World Punx has been extremely successful, how has it helped brand Markus Schulz?
I think that it has almost merged each of our respective fanbases in a way. It has been a fantastic year for us, and being part of the legendary Coachella festival in Indo for the very first time being a particular highlight.
I have to say that I have probably become a much better producer since spending so much time in the studio with Ferry. He is undoubtedly one of the greatest creative minds in the history of dance music, and I wish I could pick part of his brain and transfer it to my own! I am so proud of him for bringing back Gouryella this year.
There is something magical about being able to share moments with a great friend standing beside you in the DJ booth.
If you see trance these days, there are heaps of new uplifting and tech-trance artists but very few new progressive trance exponents, what could be the case here?
I’m not sure I would necessarily agree with that, but maybe that is because I don’t follow the high-tempo end of trance as closely as others. Certainly when it comes to preparation for any extended studio or live set I do, I am continually finding new names that I haven’t known before.
And of course the guys that I do know well are continually making amazing music. The likes of Wellenrausch, Gai Barone, Solid Stone, Jerome Isma-Ae, Airwave, Basil O’Glue and so on are always go-to names when it comes to creating the first couple of hours of my solo sets.
In the live arena, there absolutely should be a place for the progressive guys, because if they are not being used, then you’re not building the musical story of a night properly. I don’t think it favors anyone if you have a lineup of full on heavy 138+ guys from beginning to end, because the ears of the clubbers will become fatigued very quickly, and it’s not particularly fair to the guys late on the lineup because most fans will tire and leave early. But if you program your club where the tempo gradually increases with each DJ, then it provides the most wonderful experience.
Could you tell us about Schulz Music Group – how you’re fairing on that?
Schulz Music Group (or SMG for short, since I don’t really like to continually mention it with my surname as part of the title!) is my artist management and booking agency.
One of the most important things for me is to continually give back to the scene, by taking the next generation under your wing and guiding them. I have to give huge credit however to the guys back at the office, because they are the ones who are keeping the wheels moving with organising the nights for everyone to enjoy.
I think the biggest compliment that can be paid about SMG is that the Coldharbour Nights across the world have been a huge success, and that is without my own presence. It means that there is a desire for fans to see the various members of our roster, and together, we are all part of a special journey in watching their talents develop.
We just did a Coldharbour vs. Perfecto night at Panama for Amsterdam Dance Event, and I was so proud of the guys who were representing our end – Nifra, Fisherman & Hawkins, Mr. Pit, Rex Mundi, and that’s only touching the surface in terms of talent depth we have.
A question we always wanted to ask you. What is the secret behind your dress code Black T-shirt and Blue Jeans?
I’m not quite sure myself! It just kind of became a thing for me over time, almost like a uniform for work. It’s just a simple outfit with no frills, and I guess with the black t-shirt it’s harder for people to see the sweat marks. I actually pack a spare one in my DJ bag for the longer sets, and duck underneath the DJ booth to change after a few hours.
Message for your fans
As always a big thanks to everyone for continually supporting me, and hopefully I have done justice to the Trance Nation series with my own contribution. Everything I do is passionately for the fans, and hopefully you feel that when listening to the CD.