How are you all doing? Hope that this finds you well. Hello once again for another blog session, and I know it’s been the first in a few weeks and overdue. In the fear of falling ridiculously behind, I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts together all week for the latest edition, and the main aim here will be to cover everything that happened throughout the month of March.
So in this blog you’ll get the recaps of my trip to Russia, Winter Music Conference week, Miami Music week, a special trip to Yale University, and news about the new Dakota album. So sit back and hopefully this will make nice reading for your Friday evening, or probably for most of the world, Saturday morning.
Let’s turn the clock back, hot off the heels of the massive World Tour recording in Chicago, and I was about to go back on the road again.
* Note that I haven’t had time to get pictures added to the blog like usual this evening, but please send me links to any gig photos you have in the Facebook comments and I’ll add them over the weekend. Thanks guys. *
Trip to Russia – Yekaterinburg, Kazan and Moscow – March 3rd-9th
The long trip to Russia began on Thursday morning with an early flight from Miami to JFK in New York. A three hour layover, and after a slight holdup due to a lady who fell ill shortly after boarding, and it was on the way to Moscow overnight.
Factoring in the time difference and all, there wasn’t too much accomplished on Friday besides resting and getting over the jetlag. But before leaving for Yekaterinburg on Saturday, I got up early and took a little excursion to the Molino Air Museum. Now you guys know I’m a Miami guy and one of the primary reasons I wanted to move there all those years ago was the warm weather. So I wasn’t exactly prepared for the freezing temperatures of outdoor Moscow! But to be honest, when I saw this old thing, it made it all worthwhile.
An M12, the largest helicopter in the world, and only two of them were ever made!
Headed to the airport and said my goodbyes to Moscow, where the final part of this tour would take place on Monday. The first gig took me further east again, to Yekaterinburg. A brand new place for me to visit. There wasn’t too much time to settle into the hotel other than drop of my bags, and I was off to the Teleclub to do interviews for MTV, followed by a two hours set squeezed in between Brian Cross and Alex M.O.R.P.H. The set went well. It’s always difficult to assess how you’re going to be received when playing in a new area so it’s a relief when the crowd know your staple tunes and react to the likes of Sinners.
Then came the after party. You guys might remember my random night out in Budapest in February, where I was seemingly being teased to death by the Duck Sauce song Barbara Streisand. Well, the wrath of Barbara continued to haunt me at this party. I’ve absolutely no idea how I made it back to my hotel room! Managed to get around 2-3 hours of sleep and I was on the way back to Moscow, to catch a connecting flight to Kazan. That was also a crazy ride, where it seemed like there was no heat inside the plane at all. I had to wear my jacket the whole time.
The gig in Pyramida was absolutely incredible! It was another two hour set, with either side supported by Russian talents EDX and Cramp, with the latter having done some work for us on Coldharbour. The crowd completely blew me away with their passion. It felt like the World Tour gig in St. Petersburg a couple of years ago. No afterparty for me on this night though, since I was running on a severe lack of sleep already. Another 4 hours clocked and then it was back to Moscow, and a press conference for the huge event taking place at the Expo Center.
I was tired, but playing a huge arena show like this was always going to give me a second wind. It was like a Moscow version of Transmission, playing alongside the likes of Eric Prydz and Gareth Emery. And the 10,000 strong crowd got their full on Markus Schulz arena sound, with tracks like Backstage and Outsider doing huge damage. We had a great singalong to Perfect towards the end, and huge humming to the break of Opera of Northern Ocean, love when that happens! It was a perfect way to end the Russian tour.
I had Tuesday off in Moscow before heading back to Miami via New York on Wednesday, so I started laying down the foundations of another Dakota track, the final addition for the album. The time flew by, but I had a wonderful experience in all three cities, craziness and all.
Big thanks to everyone at Global Clubbing for your kindness in making me part of your events, and for making sure that the scene in Russia is in a very healthy state. I’ll see everyone there again in the summer.
Back Home to Winter Music Conference Week in Miami
Back home very late on Wednesday night and had Global DJ Broadcast to finish off for the morning. After some brief rest I hopped into the shower and headed down to South Beach with my crew to participate in the “Being Markus Schulz” Panel. It’s a different side to WMC week, but also an important one. I think it’s good that the fans have an outlet like this to find out a little bit more about the make-up of a DJ’s life.
There were some very interesting questions posed throughout, one of which was the vinyl vs. digital debate. It’s funny, because it was so much harder for me to switch from vinyl to CD than it was from CD to USB sticks or SD cards. I guess I still have a deep affection for vinyl because I owned a record store when living in Phoenix. When the store closed down we packed the entire inventory into boxes and they’re still in my house today. I can completely empathise and relate to everyone out there who loves collecting music physically.
But on the other side of the argument, the advances in technology have allowed me to be more creative and pay far more attention to set programming and flow. You guys know that I edit or reconstruct practically every single track I play in my livesets in some way, and obviously sending an edit away to be pressed to vinyl would just be far too time consuming nowadays. So while I do miss vinyl very much, it would be very difficult to perform a set nowadays that would be personally gratifying to me.
Tiredness really started to kick in when the panel was over, so I went home to sleep, and then spent the rest of Thursday night and Friday morning preparing for a hugely important night at Club Space.
Marathon Solo Set at Club Space, Miami – Friday March 11th
To be honest with you, as much as I love the challenge of playing solo sets, it’s always quite humbling to be given the opportunity to do it in the first place. And for me, to be able to do something that I’ve had the privilege to do at amazing venues like Ministry of Sound in London or Amnesia in Ibiza, and take it to Winter Music Conference, and to play at the place where it all started for me, it’s a pretty special feeling. I used to go to Winter Music Conference as a fan before I lived in Miami or became a recognised name, and to follow in the footsteps of hallmarked names like Danny Tenaglia, wow, it’s one of those things I’m so grateful to be able to do.
Aside from the obvious goals of giving the audience a great journey and experience, this set was important for me to give the new Dakota material a thorough test. Going in, I knew that this would probably be the last chance I’d have to test out the tunes before delivering the final versions to the mastering lab. So that was going to be important. Then another important aspect of performing these long sets is that you have to have plenty of depth. What I mean by that is that you can’t necessarily load up your entire set or large portions of the set with new tunes. This was my first mainroom gig at Space in five years, so there were so many tracks that I wanted to dust off and clean up to play.
So it was off to South Beach early evening to get checked into a hotel and rest up. The benefit of having the hotel near to the club meant that I could put all my energy into the set and not have to endure a long car ride before I got to bed when it was over! Showtime was at midnight and the nerves were starting to kick in.
For the first hour I did what I usually set out to do with these solo sets, and that’s keep the mood low. No vocals, no visuals, just setting the tone for the night ahead – pretty much how you’d want an opener to play. The long sets are a marathon and not a sprint. It was cool to be able to play tracks like Take It or Leave It in that mainroom for the first time, as well as throwing in one or two sneaky Dakota plays as a surprise. Once I got through the first hour I was well warmed up by then, or as I put it when speaking to the crowd, I had said my big long hello. Big Room Reconstruction of Caress 2 Impress; and we were off into the dark and banging bombs.
I kept building it up and up before hitting the peak in the middle of the set, with plenty of momentum throughout. The cheers kept getting louder and louder and the dancefloor was heaving all night.
It’s hard to describe how it felt being in the booth that night. You had so many wonderful people who flew down to Miami to show their support, and then you had the Florida Tranceaddict family enjoying themselves and sharing so many great moments with me. Hopefully the seven hours turned out to be a journey that everyone took something from and enjoyed. I had a lot of fun playing big room reconstructions and mashups that I hadn’t played in years! And most importantly of all, I was able to figure out a few things that needed to be tweaked with the Dakota tracks.
And of course, one of the big moments for me personally was finally being able to play The Perspective Space, in the mainroom of Space. Breathing rounded the night off, and by 7am I was spent. Mission accomplished.
That was a night worth waiting for. And the best part was, we had the chance to do it all over again two weeks later… twice!
Finishing Dakota Album and Mixing ASOT 500 CD
With the dust barely settled on another Winter Music Conference, it was full attention in the studio for the next two weeks. No gigs, no planes, but no relaxation break either. The deadline was approaching to put the finishing touches on Thoughts Become Things 2.
I’ve always likened the final stages of working on an album as like a school exam. Your prepration and studying is pretty much your experiences of playing out roadtested versions of the tracks, and trying to remember the reactions of the different audiences around the world that heard them. I guess maybe it was a good thing to think like I’m smart, due to a special upcoming visit at the end of March!
Some tracks needed quite a bit of tweaking, whereas some were just right off the first bat. One of which of course was one of the worst kept secrets of my livesets since the Prague ’11 Release Party at SaSaZu. I could blame myself, blabbing the word Sleepwalkers on Twitter a few days before and doing the zombie walk in the DJ booth, thinking to myself, “hey, sure nobody’s going to record that on YouTube and notice it”. But it was all good fun! Sleepwalkers will be the next Dakota single after Sinners, and I’ll go into more detail about it in the next blog, including the reaction it got in Buenos Aires. Oh man….
So info on Thoughts Become Things 2… I’ve been told by management that it’s looking like early July for the release, so hopefully it’s something that you guys will make your soundtrack of choice for the summer. I’m really happy with the end product, because the tracks are built specifically for the clubs, which is my big emphasis this year with the addition of my residencies in Miami and Las Vegas to London and Ibiza. There is another city to be added to the list this year, but can’t be revealed just yet.
And again, like all the albums, I sincerely hope that there will be something on offer that everyone will enjoy. You’ll have your peaktime banging moments, your tough and techy phases, your angry techno, and some of those vintage Coldharbour grooves thrown in for good measure. Plenty more about Dakota in the coming months I promise. You might see a few more IDs floating into the Global DJ Broadcast World Tour shows in the next few months as a result. I know, you all think I’m the world’s worst tease!
Along with the Dakota work, another big project was contributing towards the now recently released A State Of Trance 500 CD, where I was asked to make a mix of some of my personal favorte classic tracks. It’s not as easy as it sounds, because you had 5 DJs/groups who all had the same task, and it all had to be achieved without using the same classics as someone else.
So hopefully that’s something you’ll enjoy also. I couldn’t quite get my hands on Nothing at All, but nobody was ever going to get near the likes of Blueberry or When Things Go Wrong; some of the most special tracks for me both as a DJ and on a personal level. You may have noticed too that I sneakily slipped in a remix I did of the classic Greece 2000. I haven’t really played it much in my livesets in the last couple of years but the amount of people who email and tell me their story about hearing it on ASOT 350 is incredible. So that was a thank you to the fans by including that. I might get it ready for the festival season this summer.
Markus Schulz & Friends at Club Space, Miami – Friday March 25th
By the time this gig was on the horizon, I had been told that it was sold out. And due to the demand, Space had decided to put on an extra show on the Sunday night to round off the Miami Music Week proceedings in grand fashion. So part two of the trilogy was the Markus Schulz & Friends event, where I would be joined by good friends Wippenberg & Jochen Miller. And as you’ve probably all heard by now, it was the gig chosen to be featured on the annual Miami edition of the Global DJ Broadcast World Tour.
The week itself is always fun to hang out with your fellow peers and industry members. I took my staff at the Coldharbour office out to Jerry’s Deli on the Monday night, and we had absolutely no idea that David Lewis and his staff were sitting in the booth beside us the whole time! I headed out to Dream on the Wednesday night for Gareth Emery’s show, to show support to all the guys who were playing there, and then on Thursday night we had the annual DLP Miami barbeque. But Friday night would be the serious business for me.
Markus Schulz & Friends had arrived, and first up was fellow German Wippenberg. Olaf opened things up for the first couple of hours, and we got right into the groove straight away. I’m so pleased with being able to have him tour and play with me, because his sound compliments mine so well. And as 1am approached, it was time for me to take over for a four hour set… with Armin and some other friends watching on!
I got my chance to play the Perception in the Redlight District mashup in the mainroom for the first time (I played the original version in the solo set, since it’s made for those types of sets really). The sequence of Sleepwalkers, into another Dakota track (had to edit it out of the broadcast), into Outsider made me feel like the roof was literally going to shoot off the building. We then moved into plenty of the big room current MS standards, before heading down the rabbithole with tracks such as Koen Groneveld’s Slides.
The broadcasted portion of the set ended with one of those pesky IDs you love, and it’s one that will probably feature in the livesets prominently in the next few months. But one of the tracks that I played towards the end that absolutely blew up the dancefloor was Traumer’s Cobraphobie. I’m sure all you track shoppers can understand that feeling when you’re browsing the likes of Beatport, and you unearth a gem like that. I heard it and my eyes nearly popped out of my head! Tracks like that were made for Space.
A few more Dakota teasers towards the end and we had hit 5am. Jochen Miller took over and kept the crowd going strong. And all in all, the combined efforts of all three of us resulted in a night of absolute craziness. There wasn’t much time to take it all in, because after a few hours’ rest it was off to the W hotel to hang out with my old buddy Geronimo and the Sirius XM crew for their live Miami broadcast out by the pool. I always love supporting these guys and do my best to help them out with all their programming for Electric Area, between GDJB every week and the extra sets for A State Of Sundays.
But as the sun got stronger and the afternoon wore on, I was beat. I had to go home and rest properly, because work still had to be done for Sunday night.
MMC Closing Party at Club Space, Miami – Sunday March 27th
I spent most of Sunday morning taking it easy out by the pool. We were tuned into Electric Area for the live broadcast of ASOT 500 from the Ultra Music Festival in Miami, and sending my congratulations to Armin and the crew on Twitter. One of the acts at the event would also be my partners for the closing party at Space, and another set of good friends – Cosmic Gate.
Originally the plan was that Nic & Bossi would come and play a set and then I would play a set, but no one would have envisaged what went down on this night…
I started thinking to myself on the way to South Beach… you know, what would be the perfect way to give these people a real good sendoff for their Miami Week experience. So I tried testing the waters on Twitter by suggesting that I’d do a back2back set with Cosmic Gate. The Twitter peeps were telling me I was on to something.
Our hotel was right across the street from Ultra so I popped over for an interview with Armin live on the air to give my best wishes to everyone who was part of the big broadcast. And of course, to get the excitement building for my own 500 contribution in Buenos Aires the following week. I got to Space very determined to go out in a blaze of glory for the week, and on the decks at midnight again to get myself warmed up.
I played for the first two hours, as the place started to fill up quickly with lots of people making this their afterparty for Ultra. Cosmic Gate were ready to take over at 2, and we did a little bit of back2back action before they fully took over for around 90 minutes. And then that’s when the craziness really started. There were already three Germans in the DJ booth, and we were joined by another – Wippenberg! So for around an hour we had a full-on tag team session – Markus vs. Nic vs. Bossi vs. Wippenberg. Absolute chaos and the crowd loved every minute of it!
So since the night was going so well with everything completely unrehearsed, I decided to get back on the decks when the guys finished and keep on going, and going, and going… I think I played for another three hours and it was pretty much dictated by requests from the crowd. Things like the Lentos Dub of Vision, Flesh, Surreal, Dressed in White and Without You Near all got spins.
And at around 8:15, my final track of the entire Space trilogy was one that I made specifically for that room back in 2006 – the remix I did with Elevation of Karen Overton’s Your Loving Arms. I know so many of the Florida Tranceaddicts had requested it, since it was the first place I’d ever played the remix, so it was the only appropriate way to round things off for the night, or should I say morning.
I have to give a massive thanks to everyone, and I mean everyone who came out and supported all three of the Space shows. To be able to sell out that venue three times in the span of two weeks it’s, wow, it’s incredible and very humbling. I think we’re making up for lost time and creating an even more special story with Space this time around. I promise all you guys on the message boards that I will be back soon, and I want you to come out and have a blast with me the next time I’m there again. Let’s make this a legacy.
Master’s Tea at Yale University – Thursday March 31st
In between the Miami Music Week and ASOT 500 in Buenos Aires, I decided to welcome Jochen Miller to stay with me in Miami for a few days, rather than him having to fly back to Amsterdam and fly all the way down to Buenos Aires from there. We had so much fun playing together on the Friday night of Space; that we decided to continue the fun in the studio that week. The results of which yielded the track Rotunda, which you might have heard in the sets over the last couple of weeks. I’ll go into more details about Rotunda in the next blog for you.
With Global DJ Broadcast sorted for the week and my bags packed, I was off early on Thursday, not for a gig, but for a very special visit to a place I could never have imagined visitng – Yale University. And yes, thinking about it alone made me feel so smart!
Now you might think that Yale and parties and DJing shouldn’t all be in the same sentence, and nobody was more surprised than me when I received an email back in December from Julian Domo; one of the members of Yale’s student DJ association, Society Electronica. He asked me if I would be interested in being part of a Master’s Tea!
For those of you who wouldn’t be too familiar with the term Master’s Tea, it basically means an informal interview / Q&A session hosted by the Masters of Yale’s residential colleges. It gives the students an intimate opportunity to interact with special guests. So it was going to be much more than your typical DJ interview.
My Master’s Tea took place at the Saybrook Underbrook. And the lecture was divided into sections that chronicled significant periods of my life and career – starting out with the days of breakdancing, falling in love with music, moving to Phoenix and building something with the likes of The Works and the Edge Factor radio show, the fallout and moving to London in order to rediscover myself, the birth of Coldharbour, the move to Miami, the rise to success and international touring, to building a brand and team to support everything you do, as well as taking the talent of tomorrow under your wing and guiding them.
Some of the parts were very difficult to talk about with the students, particularly my personal struggles during childhood after moving to the US. I never really fitted in anywhere, and music was my true escape. Then going into detail about my time in Phoenix, where I lost a lot of friends in the scene to AIDS and drugs. There were so many occasions where I could have given up really, and it was good to be able to connect with the students about how important it is to be determined and follow your dreams.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when I think back about all the experiences I’ve been through, I really do count my blessings that I’m so fortunate to be able to do what I do today. And you know what, maybe further down the line, maybe I’ll get round to writing a book about my life story, because there will be plenty of interesting tales to tell.
Overall I had a really lovely time at Yale, rounding it off with a great dinner with the students. They are incredibly bright people, and if they are the future of our country, then I think we’ll be just fine. I guess my hope coming out of the day is that the members of Society Electronica will form a stronger community. We don’t know right now, but I could have been speaking to the next big breakthrough DJ or producer in that lecture.
So a big thank you to everyone at Yale for the privilege of participating in a Master’s Tea. That is something I will truly never forget.
This Weekend – Marquee in Las Vegas and Bal en Blanc in Montreal
So that gets you guys right up to date with everything that happened in March. In the next blog, we’ll pick things up with my daytrip to New York following the visit to Yale, and then the trip to Argentina for ASOT 500.
By the time you read this, my gigs will have already taken place at Beta in Denver and at South Padre Island in Texas, but two absolutely massive nights are still ahead for yours truly.
Saturday night takes me back to Sin City for session number two of the Marquee residency. I’ve got another three hour set to play with so I’m really looking forward to seeing all the Las Vegas locals, and from what I can gather, a lot of the Southern California residents who are making the trip for the Easter weekend.
If I manage to survive the shenanigans of Vegas, I’ll be heading to one of my favorite cities in the world on Sunday to play at one of my favorite annual events in the world – Bal en Blanc. I’m so grateful to be given the opportunity to play at BEB for the third straight year. The people of Montreal and the vibe they generate makes the city so unique and special. And it’s why a set time of 7:30am-10am will still be rocking.
If you’re not doing anything on Monday, then you will be able to catch my set live in its entirety on Afterhours.fm. Hit up the forums for all the details on the streams, and I’ll be giving you plenty of reminders about it on Facebook and Twitter over the weekend. I think everyone in Europe should be fine, since it’ll be airing at lunchtime over there. Montreal really is a place like no other, and I’ll be doing my very best to give the people another special Bal en Blanc experience. I’ll be Dressed in White for sure.
And with that, I better wrap things up and get prepared for the gig in Texas tonight. Thanks so much for reading again guys. I know we had a lot to get through and hopefully it didn’t run on for too long. I didn’t have enough time to seek out pictures of the gigs, so if you were at any of the gigs in Russia, or any of the three gigs at Space, please post links to your pictures in the Facebook comments and I’ll get them added for you over the weekend, and give you a namecheck of course.
I’ll hopefully check in with another blog next week, but if not, definitely the week after. But I’ll do my best for next week since I have a long flight to Asia coming up.
So take care and I wish you all a lovely Easter weekend. Don’t eat too much chocolate! See you in Vegas on Saturday night, see everyone in Montreal early Monday morning, and for all of you around the world, make sure you tune in and listen to Bal en Blanc live. I’ll have to stay away from the chocolate, because a chocolate stain on an all-white outfit would look pretty bad!