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Markus Schulz talks Aussie tour, the return of Dakota and all things Trance

“This will be the most important year in my career as far as touring Australia is concerned,” Markus Schulz on his upcoming national tour.

Markus Schulz will show Aussie trance lovers the art of playing longer DJ sets, delivering three marathon open to close performances next week, with plans to play in Brisbane Feb. 24, Sydney Feb. 25, Melbourne Mar. 4, and reaching Canberra for a special extended set on Mar. 3.

The legendary act spoke with The Trance Project about the much anticipated tour, his music career, the return of Dakota and plans for 2017.

Read the full interview below.

We’re very excited on your return to Australia for your massive open to close Tour which kicks off later month – what do you love most about touring the country?

I think it’s because playing Australia becomes much more than just the regular routine of airport to hotel to club to hotel to airport. Because it’s such a long flight, there is always an attempt to stay down in Australia for two weekends and cover as many cities as possible; and because you are there during the week, there is the opportunity to take in the sights and sounds, go out and explore places that you wouldn’t normally have the chance to do.

So I’m looking forward to immersing myself within the country. I believe it will be the tail end of your summer, and being a Miami guy who loves warm weather, it will be most welcome as I reply to you currently from freezing Berlin!

Without giving too much away, this will be the most important year in my career as far as touring Australia is concerned.

What inspired the decision to bring your much-loved open to close concept to our shores?

It has been a long time coming, and as mentioned with the travel length, normally I would only get the opportunity to come to Australia once a year, and in the past it would exclusively be for festivals.

With the time difference, of course it’s difficult for you guys to be able to listen to the radio airing of Global DJ Broadcast live, and I think since we started offering the show to be consumed as a podcast, Australia has been one of the biggest regions in uptake. So when you come to the country to play your shows, everyone is up to date and on the same frequency with the music that I am enjoying playing at a particular moment.

As each year passes, you begin to accumulate a following and lay down a block here and there towards a legacy in the cities. I think last year was crucial, between the club tour that was featured on the GDJB World Tour, and also hosting Transmission in Melbourne. Combined, it made me feel that it was time to take this open to close concept to Australia. Because I stress continually that you can’t just show up in any city and do this – there needs to be a foundation beforehand, and enough fans out there that will appreciate and understand the art of a solo set journey.

What can Aussie fans expect from your upcoming sets?

With nearly all of them being solo sets, they will follow the structure of deep, progressive opening, heating up towards the main peak, and then a couple of hours of what you would typically expect with a regular Markus Schulz show – the big trance melodies and sprinkling of vocals.

Following that, it will build to some chaos, and when the room begins clicking in unison, it will be time to move into the afterhours portion and go down the rabbithole with some melodic techno, and then move towards the sunrise and the crescendo with classics to finish the night off.

They are my favorite type of sets to do, because you can take people on a journey by playing right across the board of the music I love.

What is it like when you look out at the crowd at that sea of people and everyone is pulsing to the music that you are playing?

There are a few feelings. One is that being on stage and seeing a setting like that is actually the biggest source of inspiration you can take into the studio. When being on stage and studying the crowd; my mind starts to think of coming up with that next big melody to be created. Quite frequently, I will get back to the hotel after a gig, immediately open up my laptop and sketch out a rough melody idea before it escapes my mind.

But the most important is a feeling of being at peace, where you are blessed to be able to do what you love for a living. There are a lot of stressful aspects associated with life as a DJ – the touring, dealing with jetlag, meetings and time management – but when you are on stage connecting with an audience who show so much passion in supporting you; it’s the best experience you could have.

2017 sees the return of your classic alias, Dakota! Will Australia hear any new Dakota material on the upcoming tour? Which Dakota records still move you the most?

That’s right. The Dakota alias will be my most prominent work for 2017, under a special project entitled The Nine Skies. And it will entail more than just the music. My goal is to present it in a live setting, as a combined music and art show, with the first taking place at Dreamstate in San Francisco at the end of May.

It’s a very spiritual concept that I am doing so that’s taking a lot of my time at the moment, a lot of my brain power. I have a few tracks in the road test phase, and they will be important to try out during all of the shows on the Australian tour. And of course the first single has just been revealed; a collaboration with one of the great names of the techno genre, Koen Groeneveld, titled as Mota-Mota. The reactions to it have been very positive so far.

Which older Dakota tracks do it for me? Of course the obvious ones such as Chinook, Koolhaus, In a Green Valley and Sleepwalkers. Although in saying that, I dusted off Re-Swirl for the most recent Global DJ Broadcast Classics Showcase, and I was moved a lot by how much it resonated with the listeners.

You’re a hero to many fans across Australia and young producers out there. Who are your heroes and which artists inspire you these days?

That’s very kind of you to say.

I have a huge admiration for what Eric Prydz is doing. He’s always on top of his game and every release he comes up with, whether under his own name or the various aliases, inevitably ends up in my sets, including the beautiful Lillo that recently came out. Jerome Isma-Ae has consistently been doing his thing for years and has been on a strong string of great material this past while. Cosmic Gate have just released their new album Materia and it’s brilliant; with so much material that could rank among their very best output.

And luckily, I am able to rely on an incredibly talented roster housed within the Coldharbour Recordings family. Nifra, is leading the charge for females in the trance scene, and has made fantastic strides in the past year. Fisherman & Hawkins are bringing dynamism to their performances, Arkham Knights have come in with this fusion of tech and trance which is reminiscent of Tiesto’s sets in his period of ascension to the top, and Solid Stone has already cemented himself as one of the dons of the progressive side of trance.

The artists who contribute to Coldharbour inspire me daily.

What has the world of Trance brought to the table that nothing else can even remotely compare to? 

It’s the melodies – those that get under your skin, stick in your head and eventually immerse themselves in your soul. Anyone who studies my sound will know that I explore a broad palette of styles, ranging from deeper progressive to afterhours techno, but everything is weaved around the melodies.

I think where trance differs from other dance genres is the characteristics of the fans – because if you are someone you is attached to trance, it’s there for life. Many see trance as this kind of antisocial or outcast type of music, but the people who support it LOVE this music; it plays such a hugely significant role in their lives. They should be very proud, because DJs in other genres comment to me regularly about the loyalty of trance fans compared to their own.

What has been the most life-changing moment in your career to this day?

It would have to be the decision I made to move to London, in order to find myself and figure out who I really was musically.

Just before turning 18, I left home and moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where after DJing in the top 40 clubs and burning out, transitioning to the gay clubs where I faced the challenge of playing music for people who knew their stuff, I was discovered for a club called The Works in Scottsdale, and held a seven year residency, playing every Friday and Saturday night. However, in 1999 it closed and I was so burnt out that I almost quit the scene entirely. Because of that necessity to figure things out, I moved to Londonfor two years, residing in a studio on Coldharbour Lane in Brixton.

This would prove to be the most important moment in my career. I regard London as the beginning of my career, and everything up to that point as learning. It was there where the Coldharbour sound was born, because I was surrounded by a vast array of producers who were making music in different styles, and I could take these influences into my own work. The most important mantra I developed was to make music I could play in my own sets, because if that work, other people could play my music in their sets too. After returning to the US I made Miami my home, and it still is home today.

London was the turning point for me, and everything has been a slow climb since.

Looking ahead, what else do you have in store for 2017?

The Watch the World project is ongoing, with the recent release of In the Night as a single, or as many refer to it, stalker anthem number three. I am still in the process of A&Ring some remixes from the album, and they will continue to play important roles in my livesets in the coming months.

The Nine Skies and Dakota project will be the main focus of the year however, and I can confirm that Australia will have a role to play in that.

And the busy touring will continue as usual, along with keeping Coldharbour running and working hard on delivering enjoyable episodes of Global DJ Broadcast every week. I am really happy with how the year has gone so far.

Any shout-outs or anything that you would like to say to your die-hard Aussie fans?

Many thanks as always to the Australian fans and of course to you guys at The Trance Project for continually being so kind and supportive towards everything I do – whether it’s the live gigs, Global DJ Broadcast, the productions or the artists on Coldharbour, I truly appreciate it all. Looking forward to seeing you for a couple of weeks when I get down there later this month.

We have to make these shows special!

Australia 2017 Tour Dates:
Fri Feb. 24 – Brisbane, grab tix here.
Sat Feb. 25 – Sydney, grab tix here.
Fri Mar. 3 – Canberra, grab tix here.
Sat Mar. 4 – Melbourne, grab tix here.

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Written by Miguel Ramirez

My name is Miguel, and i'm a trance addict.

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