What’s up guys,
Hope this finds you doing well and you are all getting into the summer mood. It has been a little while since I last checked in with you in detail, so I’ve been writing in short bursts over the past couple of weeks collecting my thoughts on some of the recent experiences on the road.
Thankfully, a bit of focus in Berlin has allowed me to give my scribbles some structure, so I’ll try to guide you through some of the big gigs (and bizarre moments!) that have taken place this past while. I’ll also give you an update on how the Scream album is coming along, and share my thoughts on this year’s DJ Mag Top 100 poll.
New York – Pacha Gigs and Electric Daisy Carnival
For years and years, so many fans would message me and ask “hey Markus, how come you don’t play in New York so often?”
Usually when one year ends and another begins, we set ourselves goals that we hope to achieve. One of mine was to ensure that I had more of a gig presence in the Big Apple. The first stop was at the end of February, squeezed in between the Los Angeles ’12 release party weekend at Avalon and a GDJB World Tour recording at the Guvernment in Toronto. It was very much a case of continuing the momentum from that whirlwind weekend in the city of angels. And probably no surprise to you reading, or to the New York regulars that an original three hour sent wound up being almost six.
Performing at Pacha in February. Photo courtesy of David Guzman / EDM NYC
One of the things I love about the New York scene so much is that like Los Angeles, it isn’t just about the New York locals. You get fans travelling from Washington DC, Boston, Philadelphia and even as far away as Atlanta and Miami regularly attending these shows. So it feels very community driven. In the days where forums are not as active as they once were, I’m glad that the local community forums on places like Tranceaddict are still going, and you definitely feel that when you see the same familiar faces coming out to support your shows.
We were coming towards the end of April and there was a rare Friday night gap in my tour schedule. I knew I had Electric Daisy Carnival coming up in the city in the middle of May, but when the opportunity arose that I could play at Pacha again, I jumped at the chance. So with only ten days’ notice, the gig was secured, and we had a mad dash of promotion on our hands. Two New York gigs in the space of two weeks – let’s do it.
Adina Butar was flying over to the US to record vocals in the studio in Miami, so she decided to stop off in New York and catch the Pacha show. I had actually just cleaned up Caught to be properly played out in the clubs for the first time (I had been playing a bounced version for WMC), so it was a cool moment to have her in the booth and connect with the crowd. I closed the night out again with another extended set, and it just wet the appetite for EDC a couple of weeks later.
Performing at Pacha in May, Adina in the booth with me
What excited me the most about the festival was that it was being held on the grounds of the new Meadowlands (or the MetLife Stadium to give it the official name). It was built a few years ago a stone’s throw away from the old stadium, which housed the New York Giants and Jets NFL teams for many years, and was home to some of the most legendary music concerts ever seen. So as a music and sports buff, it felt pretty special to be playing on those grounds.
It was 7pm and the sun was beginning to set, and it was time to take over. I couldn’t really see the crowd from the stairs, but when I went up to the stage, I had to take a breath to acknowledge the sheer size. It was a struggle to even make out where the line of people at the back ended!
I started the set with an intro I had made in the studio during the week. I am debating with myself whether or not to use it on the Scream album, maybe you guys could let me know what you think about that. But it sent the tone for the night well, with Loops & Tings and Go! leading into tracks that I was debuting in my liveset for the very first time, like the Beat Service remix of City of Angels.
Caught was the big moment for me, since it was the first festival play, and it’s a relief when you can say to youself that you have a track that works well both in the clubs and outdoors on the biggest stage. The energy continued with the massive It is What it Is by Mr. Pit and the Remember Magnetic North reconstruction, before throwing in a couple of classics for the fans in the form of Perfect and The New World.
The ending may have been a surprise to some. A few weeks prior to the event Khomha sent me a bootleg of the Gotye track Somebody I Used to Know. Now people may say I shouldn’t be playing that track because it sounds commercial and Tiesto remixed it, but to be completely honest with you, I really got sucked in with the power behind those vocals. So I worked with him in tailoring it to fit my set better, to work as a bit of an encore / set finisher. In the version we did, the girl sings first before the main chorus kicks in, and it works so much better live that way. I am amazed at how many requests I have had for it since the EDC set.
After 75 minutes the set was concluded, and my third New York set in the space of three months had come to an end. It feels like we are building a bit of a legacy in the Big Apple now, and it’s pretty cool that we have a Coldharbour Night coming up there at the beginning of August.
All EDC New York photos courtesy of Doug Van Sant
I get asked every week during my Q&A session on Facebook and Twitter for Global DJ Broadcast when I am coming back to New York. I can’t tell you guys exactly yet, but I promise you that I am coming back. The picture will become much clearer for you in a couple of weeks, I an guarantee you that.
But for all the love in 2012 so far, thank you to the people of New York. We are not finished yet.
South American Tour – Argentina and Chile
Every time I see a South American country come up in my tour schedule, it gets me naturally excited, because you are hard pressed to find a more passionate set of fans in any of the world’s territories. I could write a book about my Buenos Aires experiences alone! From the white-knuckle plane ride where I thought I would never see dry land again, to breakdancing with the go-go dancers at an afterparty.
The trip would also give me the chance to catch up with my buddy Ferry Corsten. We’ve had a lot of fun playing together on the road this year; all of which has of course been highlighted by our remake of the classic Jens track Loops & Tings. We ran into some issues with the publishing rights to get our version released, but thankfully I just found out on Wednesday that we have the all-clear to put it out. So it will probably come out as a single in around a month’s time.
We would play two Godskitchen Boombox events together, with us doing our own separate club gigs in between. For the first night, we decided between ourselves that Ferry would go on first for 2 hours, then I would play for 2 hours, then we would go back to back to close the night. Then for Chile, I would go first and Ferry would close. We had a good run at Godskitchen’s home of Birmingham in March, and then at the WMC closing party at Space in Miami.
If you have ever been to the Boombox events before, you will know how stunning a structure it is, especially when they get the visuals going either side of you. Ferry had the place jumping so I knew I had to start off big, and the rising intro mix of Digital Madness and Fortuna did the trick. Winner of the night thought had to be The Dark Knight – such was the response of playing it in my own set that I had to squeeze it in again in the back to back. The Buenos Aires faithful just love their tracks full of energy like that.
And it’s probably the main reason why every single time I play Sinners in the country, they go absolutely bananas for it.
All Boombox Buenos Aires photos courtesy of Rodrigo Alonso
On Friday night I played at the Mandarine club. The gig was only announced on the Tuesday of that week, so I had no idea how it would turn out with such short notice. But it’s funny that gigs like that can turn out to be some of the best you play. I took my recording equipment with me just to see how the set would turn out, and as you probably guessed, I enjoyed it so much that we made it the World Tour episode for June.
It was a little dark and dirty club, so made for a perfect night of starting off deep and building it up throughout the night, and throwing in some dirty techno reconstructions for good measure. I tried to capture the best of the night in the two hours, so you heard the beginning (True Lies) and the end with Caught.
A big thank you for all the kind responses about Caught by the way. I know I’m not one to riddle my sets with vocals, but it’s kinda nice to have a vocal anthem of my own after a full year of full on instrumentals.
The tour concluded on Saturday with the Boombox in Santiago. I don’t play in Chile as often as I would in Argentina or Brazil, but I can tell with each visit that the scene is growing there. The Godskitchen crew deserve their props for giving the people there a chance to attend a large-scale event like that.
Because the roles were reversed, I was able to start my set a little deeper and build it up for Ferry to bring it home. There were a lot of fans with signs in the crowd asking me to play some of my older tracks, so I actually rounded off my set by dusting off the Uplifting Mix of Do You Dream, which I hadn’t played in a while. It was a nice moment to finish and round off another super weekend in South America.
All Boombox Santiago photos courtesy of James Florio
So a big thanks to all of the Buenos Aires and Santiago faithful for coming out during the three nights. Your passion always remains incredible. I am back in South America in a few weeks, doing a three-day tour of Brazil, stopping off in Curitiba, Recife, and the legendary Green Valley in Camboriu.
Revenge of the Wind – Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas
The gig they will be talking about for years…
After being housed many years in Los Angeles, the main Electric Daisy Carnival event shifted east to Nevada, and to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. I described last year’s event as a real watershed moment for dance music in the United States – to have 300,000 clubbers descending upon one area to party for three days showed that this boom in the scene was very real.
I had a pretty demanding week leading up to the event. Immediately after playing Coloursfest in Glasgow, I flew to Bucharest in Romania to shoot the music video for Caught. It was a long two days. Wednesday was Poland and an amazing gig for our friends at Planeta FM and their Born to Party event, and after travelling back to Berlin by train, I flew to London and then on to Houston for a gig at Stereo Live on the Friday. So I was feeling the tiredness, but knew I had to prepare something special for a gig as significant as this.
I got up pretty early on Saturday morning in Houston following the gig, and started editing and making reconstructions for the set. I was even getting ready to debut one of the instrumentals from my album, with it being a live broadcast around the world.
A late afternoon flight and I was on my way to Sin City. No time to sleep in the hotel unfortunately, because the traffic on the strip getting out to the speedway was crazily slow. 2 hours to cover 12 miles. I met up with my old friend Sarah Gianetto. We go all the way back to my days living in Phoenix. For the long-time fans and more eagle-eyed, you may notice that her name is familiar, as she wrote the album notes on the inside sleeve of my American DJ Phoenix mix compilation from 2001.
Sarah was covering my EDC experience for Las Vegas weekly, so she travelled along with the Armada and DLP crew to the event. I fell asleep in the back, trying to get a little bit of energy inside me ahead of the performance. When we got there, there was a massage chair in the trailer for all of the David Lewis DJs. I swear, had I sat in that thing buzzing along for more than two minutes, I think I would have easily passed out for the entire night.
After passing through the ASOT trailer and saying hi to Armin and crew, I was on my way to the Circuit Grounds. At that height, you could start to feel the wind picking up, and you could even notice the speakers starting to sway a little bit. I didn’t think much of it, “it’s only a bit of wind” I said in my head.
Photo courtesy of Sarah Gianetto
The set was going great, and I felt that same magic feeling from EDC Vegas only a year before. The crowd were going crazy to everything, including from a personal pleasing perspective, the new instrumental that I wanted to debut. I was really hitting my stride after Fortuna, and just as I was bringing in Loops & Tings, I got the dreaded shout of “Markus! Quick Markus!” from behind me.
At that point, I was told that we had to shut it down, because the winds were picking up dangerous speed and there was so much equipment swinging in the air. So with regret I had to announce to everyone that they needed to head to the grandstand for their safety. I was bummed out, but I knew that the promoters had made the right decision. No matter what, the most important aspect of any party is the safety of the fans, the DJs and the event staff. We all want to be able to wake up the next morning and tell our friends the stories of the night before.
After pulling out my laptop I retreated back to the ASOT trailer, and we were in a dilemma. There were radio stations taking the feed from EDC all around the world, Sirius XM included, and all of the music outside had stopped. Armin wanted me to continue my set on the setup they had in the trailer (where he does his warmup sets before the big events), but I figured that because something so dramatic like this had happened, we needed to make it special and entertain the fans listening. So the best way to do that was to go back to back.
On the decks in the ASOT trailer
There was a screen going with loads of twitter feeds, and you could see how insane it was flying. It gave us both the feeling that we are so blessed to have a dedicated community like you all out there. So we went back to back ourselves for an hour, then Nic and Bossi from Cosmic Gate (who were due to play after Armin on stage) came to the trailer to hang out, resulting in three Germans and a Dutchie for the next hour.
While our set was going on (my second set of the night for those of you keeping score), one of the reps from Insomniac said they were setting up gear in an art car to keep the fans entertained while they were waiting, and asked for a volunteer to DJ. I said I would be up for it, so after playing Caught, I left the guys in the trailer and was whisked through the speedway in a golf cart. What followed was one of the most surreal yet special moments I have experienced.
Talking to the listeners around the world while Armin is on the decks
No fancy gimmicks, no big stage setup, no visuals. Just some CDJs, a mixer and speakers. As for preparing the set, what can you do? The most important thing I had to keep in mind was that all of the fans that were left – they weren’t just trance fans coming to the ASOT stage – there were house fans, dubstep fans, techno fans, and they all just wanted some music to party. So I did my best to keep the vibe alive and hopefully give the fans something memorable to take home.
The amazing thing about it was that it felt like a throwback to the old rave scene. Two years ago when I dedicated my mix compilation to Las Vegas, people wondered why – “it’s a commercial city with no history”. The truth is that Las Vegas has had an incredible rave scene since the 90s, and the people who were going to these raves are the same people responsible for running the biggest club nights and pool parties in the city nowadays.
Performing on the Art Car, photo courtesy of Carlo Ruijgers
So in a night where I was expecting to play one set turned into three, but it was one that I will never ever forget. I have to be honest with you guys, some three weeks on, I am still so taken aback by all of your kind messages about my EDC performances. As I said at the beginning of this part of the blog, they will be talking about that night for years to come. So thank you so much to everyone who was a part of it with me.
We left the speedway after 4am, and I tried to get some sleep because I was playing a back to back set with Ferry for four hours at TAO Beach, beginning at 1pm. I checked in with my crew on skype to tell them about the experience of the night before, and then went to have fun at the pool. Of course four hours wasn’t enough, so we ended up playing for over six.
At the end of it all, it was a weekend that I will never, ever forget. You know what they say – only in Sin City!
DJ Mag Top 100 DJs Poll 2012 – It Begins
The madness begins all over again! Vote for me, vote for what I am having for lunch later, vote for what color of underwear I will wear in Ibiza… it’s never ending.
Every year when the poll begins, ends and the results come out, pretty much the entire community wants to have their say on the relevance of the poll, and usually there are polarising opinions on the opposite scale. I guess that a lot of you would like to know my thoughts on the poll since I am directly affected.
I have been one of the DJs who have gone on record saying that the poll has been good for the scene, because what it should represent is the opinion of the fans – their voice. The fans pay their money for gigs, some at very large expense especially when flights are involves, so they should always be given a chance to have their say. They are the ones tuning in to your radio shows every week and (hopefully) buying your music. My ethos from day one is that the voice of the fans is one of the most important aspects of a DJ’s career.
The flipside to that however is not pretty. For the DJs themselves, it is an unbelievably stressful time of the year, especially because it is coupled in with the busiest stretch of gigs due to Ibiza and the summer festivals. Booking agencies and promoters will continually go back and forth for every major festival or arena event all year long, fighting for which DJ gets to play the main stage, who gets the best timeslots or who gets billed above whom; and they primarily use the results of the DJ Mag poll each year as leverage.
Because of this, unless you are an absolutely legendary name in the industry, a DJ’s number of bookings and prestige of events are affected by where they place in the poll, and that ultimately is why you see the circus of promotion happening around the voting period every single year. So whether people are for or against the poll’s merits, it remains so influential and is part of the fabric of our scene.
Come October and when the lay of the land is revealed, my only hopes are that I have worked hard enough all year long to earn the votes that people have given me, and that the results will be done in honesty. There have been stories of cheating going on for years and years, and if you were to take the time to analyse the results from year to year, it’s not impossible to figure out who might be up to something.
Now we are in an era of Facebook voting, and as a result, DJs are buying Facebook fans and accounts to make their fanpages look more popular than they actually should be. The same thing happens in the Beatport charts where they are mass-buying units of their own tracks to ensure that it lands high and leads to more exposure. Will we ever have an honest and clear picture of who the most popular DJs really are?
As I’ve said, I only hope that you guys out there who do vote for me is because I have given you joy and entertainment in your life that makes you feel I have earned it; whether it’s through my gigs, productions, Global DJ Broadcast and A State of Sundays radio shows or what we release on Coldharbour.
Regardless of whether you vote for me or not, I would encourage you to vote for your favorites, because ultimately you do help them. I am thankful to anyone out there who supports me in any way they can, because every single day when I live this life, I know in my heart that I am nothing without the fans.
You guys are the ones who keep me going when times get tough and help inspire me to strive to be the best at what I do. If I was to retire tomorrow I could say that I have had an amazing life. But I still have a lot to achieve before that day comes. Don’t worry, it won’t be happening anytime soon.
You can place your vote at http://top100djs.net>. Thank you for your continued dedication.
Scream Album Update
It’s getting closer! After around 18 months of very long days and nights in the studio, and any spare time on the road and in hotel rooms, the fourth Markus Schulz artist album is almost complete. We put the cover out as a little teaser on Wednesday night, so thanks for your responses so far. I have to say that I loved the wardrobe for the shoot.
I have less than three weeks to get everything finalised and delivered, so right now I’m going through all of the tracks with a fine toothcomb and ironing out any kinks. A few of the instrumentals I have been testing in my sets for a while now. I think I saw a YouTube video of one of them played at the Planeta Born to Party event in Poznan at the beginning of June, and there were a couple more from the gigs in Argentina and Chile, and at Ruby Skye in San Francisco.
But the main tests took place last Friday for my seven hour solo set for The Gallery at Ministry of Sound in London. I have to say; damn you guys are good at your ID detective work. A few of the peeps on my forum have been speculating as to whether certain tracks in the videos are by me or on the album, so I’ll sit back with the popcorn and watch the entertainment for a few weeks yet.
This weekend I am playing two festivals – the TopFest in Piestany, Slovakia and the return of Electronic Family in the Amsterdamse Bos. If you are coming to either, you will be in for a treat, because I’m going to test a few of the tracks some more, and again at Privilege in Ibiza this Monday. Plenty more details about the album to come over the next few weeks, but hopefully it will be worth the wait.
And with that, it’s time for me to sign off and get focused on another stretch on the road. Thank you so much as always for taking the time to read my thoughts, and again, a huge deal of gratitude goes to each and every one of you for your support throughout the entire year so far.
I know that I still have so many big gigs and cities to cover, so I’ll try to do that in an upcoming blog for you. I certainly need to recap the epic nights at Stereo in Montreal and at Ministry of Sound in London that’s for sure – both very special moments for me.
But for now, take care and hope you have a great weekend. I’ll let you know when the voting begins for my choice of underwear for Ibiza.