What’s up guys, Happy Thanksgiving and hope this finds you all doing well.
It has been quite a while since I’ve had the opportunity to sit down in the one spot and gather my thoughts for a blog, so a massive apology for that. When the summer started picking up my free time has almost been entirely dedicated to the radio shows and gigs, compiling tracks for the 2012 compilation, as well as beginning to get into the teeth of producing my next Markus Schulz artist album.
I know that I have a huge amount of gig recaps and catching up to do; and I hope to come back to those in future blogs. But the main reason I’ve pushed myself to do one for you guys today is to talk about my latest Transmission experience – memorable not just for professional reasons, but for personal ones too.
So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m going to try to convey my thoughts on how thankful I am for the weekend just past. So grab a drink and some pumpkin pie.
The Buildup to Transmission: Berlin and Sofia
It had already been a busy week in Berlin on the production front. Since my last appearance at Avalon in Los Angeles back in August until now, one of the key components of my livesets has been this year’s Transmission event theme – Digital Madness. Since it was becoming familiar for everyone to hear, I wanted to add a little something extra that would surprise the audience the O2 Arena on the night, and also conscious that the set was going out live around the world too.
So on Monday I sat down and started thinking about what to add, and went through my folder of liveset intros from down the years. When I was making coffee I had the Sin City intro playing in the background (the one you would have heard at the beginning of Las Vegas ’10 Disc 2), so I thought to myself, if I can transfer the lead of Digital Madness into that haunting orchestral type of vibe then it might work. The set preparations were underway.
Tuesday and Thursday of that week I spent working with Berlin native Dennis Sheperd. He’s had a great year on the production front, particularly with his massive Fallen Angel that I’ve supported lots of times on Global DJ Broadcast and in my livesets since July.
I’ve gotten to know Dennis better since the summer and was open to the idea of spending some time in the studio with him with the hope that the results might yield something for the next Markus Schulz album. Without giving too much away for now, I’m very satisfied with what we’ve accomplished. Might be a little while before you hear it, but I think it’s something hopefully you guys will enjoy.
Sandwiched in between was GDJB recording day on Wednesday and more preparation ahead of the Transmission set. I spent some time browsing my own forums and Tranceaddict to find the tracklists of my last few Transmission appearances, and there was one thing that stood out to me – the Coldharbour remix of Breathing had never been played there before. So that was something I wanted to factor into the equation too.
Whilst Transmission was obviously heavily in my thoughts all week long, Friday also presented an important gig for me – my first visit to Sofia in Bulgaria for almost two years. I was going to treat this gig as my dress rehearsal for Transmission the night after. I wasn’t leaving until early evening, so I slept right through from Thursday night until the sun went down on Friday in Berlin, because I knew I wasn’t going to get too much for the next couple of days.
Yalta is a beautiful intimate club that has always made me feel very welcome over the last five years or so. My itinerary said that I was only due to play two hours but the crowd demanded more so I gave them three. I must give a mention to Danny from Tucandeo who came to the gig for support along with his girlfriend, nice seeing them.
Overall the night went really well. It was the perfect way to get me fully focused on what needed to be accomplished in Prague the next night. Great people and great vibe. I know I said to some of the guys on Facebook about possibly making Sofia a World Tour destination – to be completely honest, had that gig not fallen the day before Transmission, and Transmission going out live, I definitely would have done it. So maybe the next time they bring me back, if the timing is right, then we showcase Sofia to the world. Many thanks again to everyone who came out.
Transmission: Digital Madness, Prague – Saturday November 19th
The big day had arrived; without doubt one of the biggest and most important gigs of a trance DJ’s schedule throughout the year. After a layover in Vienna, I touched down in Prague early in the evening.
My connection and affection to the city of Prague is obvious to those who have followed my career over the years, and this affection went into hyperfocus mode earlier in the year due to me dedicating the 2011 chapter of my city series compilation to the Czech capital. The backbone of this affection has been the Transmission extravaganzas. I’m very proud to be an unofficial resident of the event, having played there every year for the last six and having done three event themes in the last four years – The New World, Future Cities and this year’s attempt Digital Madness.
I have to take you back to last year’s event where I was very fortunate to have my father and two brothers in attendance. Earlier that summer we had received the news that my dad was fighting cancer and the outlook wasn’t good, and with me only having discovered and connected with him a couple of years previously, it has left me with so many ponderous moments, such as why is he possibly going to have to leave my life so soon only after coming into my life.
Going into the event last year, we all thought that it would be his first and last Transmission. But all year long he’s vowed to fight and be strong for us in the hope that he would get to experience one more.
Not only that, after my brother Holger’s accident which left him in a coma back in May, my life felt like it had turned upside down. That was one of the toughest weeks I’ve ever had to encounter, and I’ve never been so appreciative of my fans as I was that week, particularly those who came to see me when I was touring India. It’s funny; I said to one of the girls who regularly supports me and GDJB on Twitter that I feel a debt of gratitude towards them for almost carrying me through that week, and hopefully I can repay them when I visit the Sunburn Festival in Goa after Christmas.
Thankfully however, the family were there this year supporting me again, and I knew that I had to make every effort to perform to my best, as well as making it a night to remember for the fans.
After meeting the family and my press agent Tim Stark we gathered for dinner and headed to the O2 Arena in Prague. You could feel a buzz in the air all night long. Gareth Emery was on the decks as I got into the arena, and unsurprisingly could hear Zombie Nation blasting through the speakers.
At 11pm it was showtime. Deep breaths and time to deliver. My short edit of a Digital Madness intro into Mr. Pit’s remix of Katowice kicked us off, and my first sense of relief was hearing the crowd embrace the event theme. As you guys know, one of my favorite tracks from this year is Khomha’s remix of Max Freegrant’s track “Olya” – I’ve gone on record as describing it as the track where we can only be friends if you like it too! I still had the acappella of Sarah McLachlan on Delerium’s Silence from when I made the mashup with Lift Off, so had an idea to place it over the top of Olya as a nice surprise. Thankfully it went down well too.
I hadn’t planned on playing either Surreal or the Beat Service remix of Saints, but I changed my mind after the reactions they had gotten at Yalta the night before. So you guys in Sofia definitely had an influence on the big dance in Prague. And of course no set of mine would be complete without a few pesky IDs in there, although they’ve been going over huge in all my livesets over the past month. Right now I’m debating on whether or not to use them in the city compilation, so just want to keep the identity of the tracks under wraps for now.
The staples of Opera of Northern Ocean, Rotunda and Outsider were all requested by the fans throughout the week on Facebook and Twitter so they got big reactions when played, and it’s always a seminal moment when The New World gets played in Prague in any format due to the connection with Transmission. The debut of the Coldharbour remix of Breathing at the event followed, and it was definitely a very special moment for me looking out at the sea of hands from the booth. You would be hard pressed to find timeless classics better than that. Then to wrap things up was my new version of Digital Madness, which rounded things off in great fashion.
After 1 hour and 40 minutes (it only felt like 5 minutes if I’m honest) I was done, and my contribution on stage to Transmission was over for another year. I went down to meet some fans and take pictures, then went out to the lobby to do some press and poster signings for even more fans. Paavo and Tony from Above & Beyond had taken over and by the time I got finished and back up into the skybox where my family was, they had around 20 minutes left. But nothing could have prepared me for their ending.
Over the past year A&B’s drive has been all about their Group Therapy artist album. Included in the album are some beautiful atmospheric tracks that they’ve used as their intros and outros to every set they’ve played this year. As expected, they ended their Transmission set with “Sun in Your Eyes”. Along with everyone else in the arena, I watched the screen and the messages they were typing up to interact with the fans – all of meaning and value to many; “life is made of small moments like these”. Then they put up this:
Now I’m not exactly the poster child for showing my emotions physically, but it was unbelievably difficult to keep them in check when they put up the message about my dad. It was a moment of sheer class and appreciation I will never forget, and I will be forever thankful to them for going out of their way in doing it. We don’t know the future, and we don’t know if this past week was my dad’s final ever Transmission experience. But if it was, it was a beautiful moment that everyone will always remember.
So my heartfelt thanks go to the boys – to Jono, Tony and particularly Paavo who was manning the messages on his laptop. It’s a huge weekend for them coming up as they reach the milestone of 400 episodes of Trance Around the World, so as well as thanking them for Transmission, I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate them for their achievement and wish them luck for their live event in Lebanon this Saturday.
My Transmission thanks also spread to Ferry Corsten (great company as always), John O’Callaghan and Gareth Emery, and a sincere thanks to each and every one of you who supported me during my performance on the night. This was Transmission: Digital Madness, and it’s one I’ll be reflecting on for a very long time indeed.
I said my goodbyes to the family and headed back home to Miami via London Heathrow. Hope to see you again soon Prague.
2012 City Compilation Announcement – This Monday
My week on the road started early with a trip to Denver for Trancegiving Eve, and then flew back to Miami to spend my first Thanksgiving at home with family for the first time in years. Later today I’m packing up for a weekend in Texas, starting at Rich’s in Houston tonight and then the GDJB World Tour recording at the Lizard Lounge in Dallas on Saturday. Should be fun seeing everyone.
Then Monday is a big day, where the location of the 2012 city series compilation will be revealed. The amount of messages and people asking me about it over the past few months has been crazy. At times I’ve felt like I’m going to be announcing the next city hosting the Olympics or the World Cup! But all will be revealed with a video broadcast this Monday, starting at Noon Pacific | 3pm Eastern | 8pm UK | 9pm Central Europe on http://www.markusschulz.tv.
To be honest, it hasn’t been an easy decision, because there are so many cities worthy of contention. I’ve tried to base my decision not only on the impact I have felt by the city in the last 12 months, but also over the past number of years. I’m delighted to say that as well as announcing the city, we’ll also be able to reveal to you the special release party and plans around the compilation. So make sure you free up your Monday to find out the next instalment of my city series project.
After that I’m saying goodbye to home and spending another stretch of weeks on the road; first going to Asia to Singapore and China, and then playing Creamfields in Abu Dhabi before a couple of weekends in Europe. I’ll be gathering even more tracks for the compilation and starting to put the pieces together in the coming weeks, as well as doing some more production work for the artist album.
And with that, it’s time to wrap things up and pack for another weekend. Many thanks for taking the time to read guys and thanks for your patience in waiting for the next blog to appear over the past few months. I’ll try my best to go back to the summer and get caught up over the next while. Please leave me your thoughts and comments and I’ll have a read when I’m on the road, they always keep me going.
Until then, take care and enjoy the rest of your Thanksgiving weekend.