It was one of those extra-warm autumn days in Amsterdam, when we meet with Markus Schulz, during the 2017 Amsterdam Dance Event. The artist was just arriving on Netherlander’s soil and was eager for his open-to-close show at the Melkweg (which translates into Milky Way) on Friday, the 20th of October.
Thrilled to bits by the fact that his show was sold out for the second consecutive year, Markus talked to us about his music, current & future projects and how he sees the music industry at the present time.
Radio DEEA: Getting ready for another open-to-close Markus Schulz special? Can you tell us more about this concept?
Markus: I am really excited about ADE this year. We have Melkweg tomorrow night which is sold out and this is a huge, huge accomplishment. I remember last year when we did the show for the first time, friends, people from the industry were saying “I think this is a big mistake, doing the show there. It’s too big, you’ll need some extra DJs to help”.
And we were like: “No, no we are going to do open-to-close.” And we were sold out. And everybody was surprise. And now, to be sold out two months before the show has really made it us feel we are on the right path.
Radio DEEA: Does it put more pressure on you to have a sold-out show?
Markus: No, because I know I’m in front of the fans, the real fans and when I know that, I can relax and we both enjoy each other’s company. I always believe that I put a frequency in my music, like the music that’s on my frequency, the one that I love, and when I have people that like the same music, then we have a special bond.
So, having a full venue with people that have the same connection as me, it’s just magic. You don’t have to try, you just play from the heart and it’s magic.
Radio DEEA: Going back a bit, last spring you launched ‘Watch the World” the album and now you have a DELUXE edition.
Markus: It took a while (laughs). It contains the remixes, the extended versions and some bonus tracks. I call it the closing chapter because now I am ready to move on to the next chapter. I made the Dakota show which was a bit of a detour, but now I am working on the next Markus Schulz album which I will hopefully have ready by March or April next year.
I am always working. After I did “Scream One” and “Scream Two”, I tool like six months off from the studio. Each time. Because it took up to two or three years to make those albums. After “Watch the World” I decided to just keep going. No time off. And it has really paid off because when you’re in a groove, you maintain that groove and you don’t take time off … you feel like everything is clicking really well.
After the Dakotas project, here I am again, working on the my next projects and things are going really, really well, I am blown away by the music right now and the inspiration around me.
Radio DEEA: How you find the energy for all of this. Where do you draw your energy from?
Markus: I think that when you are on the right path, when this is your life, it’s very easy to wake up in the morning and be excited.
Radio DEEA: But do you experience those days when you just don’t feel like going out or showing up. You just want to be a normal person. No press, no fans, no pressure.
Markus: Of course, I have those moments, but at the same time all it takes is to hear an amazing song or playing a set somewhere where you are like WOW, and my energy level I high again.
Radio DEEA: We are curious, how does a normal day at the office look like for you?
Markus: A normal day? Hm … wake up, open one eye, check the messages, grab a coffee or tea and then ideas come rolling in. I’ll jump in front of the computer and then … if I have new ideas I’ll just start making music right from the beginning of the day and if I don’t have ideas or find my inspiration, I’ll just go through the e-mails and take care of business stuff.
Those are the days when I am a bit crankier because I hate being in my left side of the brain which is my analytical business side. I like to be in my right side of the brain which is the creative side. So, it kind of depends on how I wake up in the morning, what mood I’m in.
Radio DEEA: You had a very interesting project with Ferry Corsten “The New World punx”. Anything left there? Or many other projects with Ferry?
Markus: First of all, Ferry and I are great friends, we are always chatting, hanging out at the phone and complaining to each other, whatever. Ferry did an amazing album, the Blueprint album. It took him a while to make it and I was working at the Dakota project, so we wanted to give each other some room to really focus on those projects.
I am absolutely blown away by how the Bluprint album turned out. I am so proud of him and I am proud of the Dakota project as well. So, right now I’m at that point when I say “OK, I am done, so I’m really looking forward to 2018.”
We knew that this year we were going to focus on our personal projects, so don’t worry you’ll see more of us together in the near future.
Radio DEEA: If you had the chance to do it again, start again, would you do it differently? As a DJ, as a producer…
Markus: Yes and no. I think that what I would do different, if I had to do it all over again, is have a little more patience. Because when you know what you want to do, both musically and business-wise and you feel the resistance and people trying to stop you, you get impatient, you maybe get a little bit angry.
But what I learnt throughout the whole process is that nobody can stop you, if what comes out of the speakers it’s amazing. Play from the heart, make beautiful and amazing music and nothing can stop it. That’s the most important thing.
Not all the politics that’s happening behind the scene, not people who are trying to make your name smaller to make their own name bigger, or maybe people who don’t even want you at the festival because they want to be the only trance artists at that festival (which is happening, btw). It doesn’t matter, because what comes through the speakers is the most important thing and all the politics and the backstabbing that goes on don’t matter. At the end of the day it’s about the fans.
The people who do those things don’t care about the fans and the fans eventually find out.
Radio DEEA: The music industry is changing and evolving by the minute. How can you bring something new ,but at the same time stay true to yourself and retain that distinctive sound?
Markus: That’s actually the key. To have your own sound, your own stamp and not get tired. First of all, music is my life, is not like I’m tired of it. I’m always listening to new music, fore-thinking music, music from people what maybe no-one has ever heard of, even from the trance or pop industry.
For me is finding inspiration in different places and then using that inspiration when you’re in the studio. It’s about being real.
Radio DEEA: Is it hard?
Markus: Sometimes it’s hard but let me tell you what happens. It is hard when you’re chasing and there’s a lot of people who are chasers, like this trend is big now so this is what I’m going to make.
Psy trance is big, let’s make psy trance music then. Oh, wait deep house is big, let’s go and make that. Chasing it’s hard, because you always need to figure out what’s there, what’s happening. Then hurry up and make something. But when you’re chasing you are always behind, copying somebody else.
So, I find chasing harder than staying true to yourself and making what you’re feeling inside. For me, when I make music that I’m feeling inside it’s a lot easier then when I sit and think “Oh man, I need to make a big EDM-trance style track for this song.”
Radio DEEA: But what if you are at the very beginning and you need to make a name for yourself? There’s so much music these days, how do you get noticed?
Markus: I used to say just stay true to yourself and bla bla bla, you know? Which is 100% true, but here’s what I found: talent it’s the most important thing.
I met some really great people, really nice people who are not that talented. And you give them advice and be there for them, but no matter how much you advise them, they just don’t have it. So, they just have to keep trying, keep trying, keep trying. And it’s not easy, it requires perseverance.
And then, I met some people who are not the nicest people in the world, but the most talented musicians. For me, that’s the thing. If you are not the most talented artist, perseverance is the most important thing, and if you are, you’re going to raise, but you’ll also have to work. Because the most talented people are also the laziest (laughs). It’s kind of funny how that works.
And luck. Luck has a lot to do with it. For example, I am lucky to be here, but some of the most talented people that I know aren’t in the same position as me. And when I listen to their music I’m just WOW!
Radio DEEA: You are getting ready to play at the 22nd edition of ADE. What’s your feeling about this event and its evolution through the years?
Markus: ADE it’s one of industry’s standards, you know? We need events like this one, where you can conduct business and it’s not all parties. I am happy with the balance of ADE, it’s the perfect combination.