March 20, 2009

Markus Schulz Blog - March 20th 2009

Hey everyone,

Hello to you all from the comfort of my own home this week, and after a gruelling three weeks on the road, it feels very good to be able to say that. I have been resting and gearing up for a huge weekend in Toronto, but before we look forward to that, I'm going to reflect on last weekend's gigs in Barcelona and Portrush.

On Friday night I found myself playing at She Club in Barcelona. The clubbers there were great, Many of them Ibiza regulars, so it was a sort of an Ibiza season pre-party. My good friend Brian Cross came out and we got to catch up a bit, and discuss the upcoming Ibiza season in great detaii. I am really looking forward to this season as there some nice surprises in store. As far as the club itself, it is a really cool venue with an amazing sound system. It reminds me alot of Amnesia in Ibiza, only on a smaller scale.

In typical Spanish tradition, it was a late night. I played until the club closed at 6am and then had to hurry back to the hotel to get cleaned up, and head right back to the airport to catch a flight to London, before connecting to Belfast. When I was in Heathrow waiting for my second flight, I bumped into the guys from Cosmic Gate, who themselves had a gig in Belfast the night before along with Judge Jules. It's amazing how they have reinvented their sound over the past couple of years. I remember playing with them at a festival in Holland, when they were still playing trance at the upper 130 range. Following them was not an easy task! They are great guys though and I always make a point of trying to hang out with them if we are playing at the same event.

After the connecting flight to Belfast, I got picked up and took the 90 minute drive to Portrush. The scenery up there is incredible. It's a little village by the seaside, and there are some spectacular views from the cliffs. If I ever get the chance to play there again, I hope I can stay longer so I could go and explore a bit more. Along the way is a small town called Ballymena. Many people have asked me why I named the track on my Without You Near album that I did with Airwave after a particular place in Ireland that would not be commonly known around the world. There used to be a boat that resided at the harbour in Ft. Lauderdale, close to where I live, named "The Ballymena". And of course, the boat was named after the town.

In all honesty, I was so exhausted on Saturday night. All the flights during the week were adding up and taking their toll. But once I made it inside the Lush complex and went up to the DJ booth to survey the scene, it gave me a second wind. You know the Irish, up for any party no matter what time of the year.

The club itself has changed immensely since I last played there. The DJ booth has moved, they have huge L.E.D. lights on the balcony, and a giant screen for visuals at the front. One thing that hasn't changed though is the quality of the soundsystem. Resident DJ Chris Davis was doing a good job warming the crowd up, and he even showed a little Coldharbour love by playing tyDi's Russia towards the end of his set. At 11pm, it was time to start my 3 hour set, and the last on this three week stretch.

Rather appropriately for where I was, I opened the set with my intro edit of U2's New Years Day, which I made during Christmas for the GDJB Classics Showcase. The first half hour or so of the set was spent building things up, but the crowd were begging for some heavy beats. So when I threw down the Dakota track, Sin City, the floor really got moving. My abiding memory of this set however is when I played my remix of John O'Callaghan's Big Sky. Every single person in the club, bar staff and all, were singing along with their hands in the air. It was a sight that would give anyone goosebumps.

Once I got done I went downstairs to meet the crowd and take some pictures. The set went really well, and I loved how much the fans got into it from beginning to end. But on the inside, I felt huge relief. The last gig on this tour was over, and I knew that in a few hours, I would be on my way back home to Miami. After a couple of hours rest, I got picked up at 7am to head back to Belfast and get a connecting flight over to London, and then a 10 hour flight to Miami. Needless to say, those 10 hours were spent in the land of nod.

I couldn't wait to get home to catch up with everything and everyone again. I really missed my dog, Star. Any time I leave home for a couple of weeks, I always worry that she will forget what I look like before the time I get back. But the jetlag badly caught up with me on Monday and Tuesday. I was walking around the house like a zombie. But once I got rested up, I hit the gym to get some energy back, and then it was straight back into the studio to prepare for Saturday.

Before I talk about this upcoming weekend in Toronto however, I am going to answer this month's questions posted by the members over at the forum. If you have anything you would like to ask, please signup and post away, and ask anything you like. It doesn't necessarily have to do to with music.

Here goes:

When looking at photos of your gigs from around the world, you are always wearing the coolest t-shirts. Do you pick them out yourself, and where do you get them?

I make it a point to try to get out and find some cool t-shirts when I am on the road. When I was in LA on my way to Australia for example, I hit up Melrose Avenue, where there are some really cool shops to buy t-shirts. Also Lincoln Road Mall in South Beach has some cool places. It is fun to shop for t-shirts because they don't take up much room in your carryon bags while on tour.

Why the alias Dakota? How did it come about? When you are producing a track under Dakota, do you find yourself pulled into the darker sounds for a while, or is it easy to just go back and forth in production style?

I was just making some sketch ideas for the next Markus Schulz album and came up with some really cool, dark, more geared to the underground type tracks. I didn't think that was the right sound for a Markus Schulz album, but I love making and playing these different styles of tracks in my sets, so I thought it would be cool to resurrect the Dakota name to release these tracks under. I used to put out tracks under Dakota around the millennium period on labels such as Bedrock, Yoshitoshi and Global Underground. The name comes from the street I lived on while in Arizona. I lived on North Dakota Drive.

I'm finishing up university in the Toronto area within the next few months. I chose to study accounting since it was one of the few things I actually liked in high school (go figure) but music has always been my true passion. I didn't have the most glamorous childhood and had to deal with many things a child or teen shouldn't have to deal with. It was during these times that music put me in another place and took me away from it all. I'm sure I'm not just speaking for myself when I say your music was and still is that escape from any stress or hardships - keep making great music! Your perspective as to how music should be produced (from the heart) is inspiring. Now my question: I've picked up music production as a hobby (when I'm not overwhelmed with school work). I've spent countless hours trying to learn the ins and outs of a couple of programs but feel like I've hit a plateau. I feel like there is so much more that I could learn, but I don't know anyone else who produces and can't seem to find other tutorials that expand the horizon. Do you have any suggestions as to what I can do to reach the next level?

I think you should focus on one program you feel the most comfortable with. Really learn the ins and outs of the program. Invest some time into finding some unique sounds and plugins. A new bank of sounds can inspire new ideas. Whenever I start a new project, I always like to find something new to inspire me. Also, if you are looking for some good production tips, check out YouTube. There are tons of video tutorials from making percussion to basslines and leads. Always remember too, that what you start with will never be what the finished product sounds like. Most of my tracks evolve over the weeks I work on them, eventually sounding nothing like what I started with.

I know you are a big basketball fan and in particular of the Phoenix Suns. Do you think they will make the playoffs this year? Which team do you think will go all the way? And finally, when are you making your next appearance on court, following your little accident?

Oh man, The Suns are a mess. I have been following them since 1993. I also used to do the music production for them when I lived in Arizona, so I had a staff badge and got to see most of their games. They have since sold the team to a new owner and he has hired some people who just do not have a clue about constructing a team, so I am pretty frustrated with them right now. The last week they have gained some momentum, but they are still out of the playoff picture. I think they can make it if they continue to play like they have the last few weeks though, but I don't see them going deep in the playoffs. I think the Celtics are still the team to beat, but it looks more and more like a Kobe vs. Lebron NBA Championship series.

Next week is Winter Music Conference in Miami. Describe your first WMC experience for us.

My first WMC was amazing. It was the first time in person that I saw some of the names that I used to see on records and flyers. It was also my first opportunity to hear some of the DJs that I had heard so much about. The biggest thing I can recommend to first timers is to go with an open mind. When checking out a DJ that has a solid reputation, study how he is building his sets, and don't get too wrapped up in the tunes or style of music being played. There are many things you can take away from listening to DJs that may not play the same style of music you are into. For example, I learned a lot from listening to Danny Tenaglia at Groove Jet back in the day. He may not play all the type of tracks that I like; but the way he told his story was cool.

Thanks again for your questions. I'll answer more of them next month.

This Saturday is a gig I have been looking forward to and preparing for since Christmas. It is going to be a celebration, as the official release party for Toronto '09 takes place at the world famous Guvernment. This night is a thank you to all the fans; who inspired me to base the 2009 compilation on the city of Toronto. We have had quite a journey over the years together, and Saturday is just going to be another momentus chapter that hopefully all of us will remember. I'm really looking forward to seeing all the familiar faces out there on the dancefloor. It's one of those gigs that I wish was happening tonight.

Next week, the world's congregation of DJs, media and clubbers descend upon South Beach in Miami. There will be a special WMC edition of Global DJ Broadcast, where some of my friends and colleagues in the industry will be checking in with their personal recommendations of which tunes are doing the business in the clubs. While they are here, hopefully they can hang around for one of my traditional WMC poker parties.

It is a very busy week for yours truly, with gigs on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Hopefully I will find some time to check in with you all next week, to tell you what this year's WMC experience has been like.

But until then, I wish you all a great weekend. For all you readers in Toronto, I can't wait to see you this Saturday!


March 13, 2009

Markus Schulz Blog - March 13th 2009

Hey everyone!

I hope this finds you well. It has been an incredibly tiring week for yours truly, making my way from Australia to central Europe. The Australian tour is in the books, so this week I am going to look back on last weekend's activites, reflect on the tour as a whole, and begin to look forward to what is in store between now and the end of March.

My weekend began last Saturday with the restart of the Future Music Festival series, the first stop being Brisbane. After the excitement of Sydney and Perth the previous weekend, I couldn't wait to get going again.

The first gig this week was in Brisbane. I got there a bit early to catch a bit of Oakey and about 15 minutes of Grandmaster Flash before heading over to my stage where Tocadisco was rockin' it. The stage was along a long corridor of a horse racing track, right by the grandstand. I was warmly greeted by the crowd and settled into a 3 hour set.

Brisbane is one of the cities in Australia that I feel has come a long way oin the last 4 years. When I first did this tour a couple of years ago, the vibe was totally different to what it feels like now. The kids were really up for it and seemed very knowledgeable. One of the highlights of the set for me was when I looked up in the grandstand, which was really full and seeing everybody screaming when I played one of my Dakota tracks, Sin City. Like I said, Brisbane has come a long way.

On Sunday morning I began preparing for what was going to be a very hectic day and night. I spent the flight between Brisbane and Melbourne finishing up last week's blog for you guys. After landing, I was delayed 1 hour getting to the hotel because of the airport freeway being closed due to a traffic accident. Once I finally got to the hotel I thought I had some time to relax and gather myself, but between the time change between Brisbane and Melbourne (flying from west to east) and the delay getting to the hotel, I realized that I did not have any time and had to leave straight away.

Melbourne has always been really good to me, but on this tour they were just incredible. Once again I was warmly greeted by the crowd, and got just as warm of a greeting from Christopher Lawrence who was playing before me. It was nice to play with him on the same stage because the night before in Brisbane, he was on a different stage and our set times competed against each other. I have known CL for almost 10 years so a lot has changed over that time for both of us. He now lives in Melbourne and really seems happy and at peace with himself.

I opened my set by addressing the crowd on the mic. Knowing that I was going to be playing a total 7 hours between the festival and the afterparty, I wanted them to know I was going to take my time and build the set, and not just bang it our from the very beginning. Everybody stayed right on pace with me as I built the set up from some dark proggy trance to more banging techy stuff. Before I knew it I was in the middle of my set with the sun going down and a full crowd going absolutely crazy. Highlight for me was all the signs and banners with my name on it. That is always so cool to see.

After my set I was quickly rushed out of the festival and back to my hotel for a quick change and then to the afterparty. As soon as I arrived I had a quick meeting with the sound tech guys and they took all my gear to the stage and set it up for the World Tour recording. In the meantime, I sat in the backstage room speaking with people and at one oint the manager came up to me and told me they were going going to have to close down the street in front of the club because of all the people. This was great news to me, because I was not sure how everyone was going to feel after being at a festival all day, Usually people tire out and plans change from going to an afterparty to going home and passing out. Super8 and Tab were banging their tunes as I was pumping myself up for another 4 hours. As they started bringing the music down a bit the stage manager came and got me. Showtime was imminent.

I have to say, that one of the things I love about the world tour shows is the competition that the fans seem to have with each other. It seems like each city wants to be louder than the other cities, The microphones usually stand right at the end of the stage capturing the vibe of the crowd and some cities are just electric. Budapest and Athens were some of the loudest crowds yet for a world tour recording. Melbourne definitely wanted to show they were up for it and the moment I stepped on stage they were loud and relentless.

The set went great and I was able to really take everyone on a good journey. The most fun I had was once I knew the 2 hours for the World Tour broadcast were recorded, and I was able to go down the rabbit hole a bit. In long sets I love to have certain parts of the set were people just jack. I don't think you see that very often in trance DJs' sets - where you just play some really wicked grooves and let the crowd go off for a bit before you build it back into some melodies.

It was so nice to see the other DJs from the tour come and and support me. Tocadisco, Oakenfold, a couple of the guys from N.E.R.D. as well as Super8 and Tab all hung out and partied with me. An amazing gig that I will remember for a long time.

After a short rest, I had to take the flight to Adelaide, for the final stop on the Future Music Festival series. Man I was tired. But at the same time, I was determined to end this tour on a high and give the Adelaide people something to remember. Adelaide is where Brisbane was many years ago. You can feel the scene developing and growing, and I am very happy to invest my time doing so. This year the crowd was even better than last, and I was so amazed how everyone responded when I played The New World. Definitely the tune of my set as far as crowd response goes! After the set was over, I headed to the artist area, where the official end of tour afterparty was in full swing. Not much that I should write about, but I can assure you it was wild and crazy. Everyone was letting loose after an amazing tour. We continued the afterparty at a club called Electric Circus (or something like that). Everything gets a bit foggy from there on out.

Celebrating the end of a tour is always bittersweet. You are glad you made it through, because it is very demanding physically and mentally, but there is also an element of sadness having to say goodbye to everyone. The nice thing is that most of the people on the tour said are coming to Miami for WMC, so I'll get to see and catch up with them again.

We were all like a mini-family, sharing some great stories along the way. You all know the obvious highlight for me already, meeting Grandmaster Flash. That is a memory I will cherish forever. But I also want to make mention of the amazing fans that attended every edition of the festival. They showed that the Coldharbour community is strong in Australia, and I hope that many of you who came to see me will join the guys on the forum and contribute your stories over there. It was an incredibly rewarding experience, and it was a great privilege to be able to be part of the festival for two years in a row. I hope that it will not be too long before I can get back. Maybe we'll get to do another World Tour recording from one of the other cities, who knows. :)

I had Tuesday off before I headed out, so I spent the day sleeping in, going to the gym and then going to Adelaide's big shopping area. As I was walking through I couldn't beleive my eyes. I have been looking for a pair of original Adidas Top 10's for years and years. I got a pair for Christmas, but they were all white. The very original ones were red, white and blue.

When I was a kid I had always wanted a pair but never could afford them. There were only a handful of kids in school who had a pair and these kids were obviously the popular kids. You know the ones, the captain of the football team, the homecoming king...etc. You could not find a pair in the city of Pirmasens in Germany, where I lived. You had to drive to Kaiserslautern and they had them occasionally at the bowling alley where they were sold.

Well as I was walking... There they were! A pair of Top Ten's, original colors!! I was so excited that I immediately pulled them out of the box when I got back to my hotel room and just stared at them. It's like, "How ya like me now Pirmasens! I finally got my top 10's!!"

Content with the FMF tour, I boarded the plane from Adelaide to take me to Hong Kong on Wednesday for the start of a 30 hour journey back to Europe. When I landed in Hong Kong, I listened back to the recording from Queensbridge and got it prepared for Global DJ Broadcast, along with our World Tour broadcast affiliates. Wednesday was spent working on a few Dakota-related things and mixing the latest Evolution for Sirius XM. Being in Hong Kong brought back memories of one of my favorite gigs of last year. My tour schedule in May is almost exclusively dedicated to gigs in Asia, so my mind has already started thinking about what to prepare. An overnight stay at in Hong Kong and I continued my trip to my second home.

Yesterday I landed in Berlin, where I have my apartment for staying in between gigs that fall on consecutive weekends in Europe. I have not been there since the end of the summer, so I was very curious about what I was going to find. All my plants are usually dead and my neighbors wonder where the heck I have been. My brother Holger came to visit me for a few hours before I headed off to the airport again to catch a flight to Barcelona.

Tonight is my first opportunity to play a gig in this beautiful city of Barcelona. I am normally here a few times during the year, but it is primarily for overnight stays when flying from a gig somewhere in Europe to get back to Miami.

Tomorrow night I am back in Ireland to play at Lush in Portrush, for the first time in almost 5 years. Playing there brings back some great memories. The club itself is up there in the rankings as one of the best worldwide, although I don't know if the reason people liked it so much was because of the giant 15-foot bra they used to have erected above the bar. Since Christmas it has been refurbished so I'm looking forward to seeing how it looks now. With it being St. Patrick's Day on Tuesday, a lot of people will begin their celebrations early this weekend, so it should be a real party atmosphere. I'm obviously hoping that the crowd will be full of people who are there for the music and the right reasons, and I am confident that they will.

Once the weekend's clubbing activities are complete, I'll finally be on the way home and get the chance to sleep in the comfort of my own bed. As anyone who have read the Jules Verne book will know, Phileas Fog became famous for making it round the world in 80 days, but I'll manage to do it in just 19! Next week will be a busy one in the studio however, because of the two massive weekends coming up before March ends - first with the official Toronto '09 Release Party at The Guvernment, and then Winter Music Conference week in Miami. So I want to work on a few surprises to have for these sets.

Because my WMC week is going to be so hectic, I will answer another batch of your questions one week earlier than usual this month. So if you guys have anything you would like to ask me, please post your questions over at my forum, and I'll do my best to answer them next week.

Alright guys, I'm going to start getting myself prepared for tonight's gig. Hope you all have a fantastic weekend, and to all my Irish friends and fans, a Happy St. Patrick's Day to you all for Tuesday. Go easy on the green Guinness!

Hasta luego,

March 06, 2009

Markus Schulz Blog - March 6th 2009

Hey everyone!

Hello to you all once again from the plane, from 36,000 feet somewhere over Australia. Apologies for not getting the blog up on Friday as usual, but hopefully this will be some nice Sunday reading for you. I am on my way to Melbourne having spent the last few days in Perth and then Brisbane, enjoying a little bit of sunshine. I decided to sit out by the pool the otehr day, figuring that 30 mins in the sun would be pretty harmless. Unfortunately, nobody told me about the hole in the Ozone layer over Australia, I so was burnt pretty good after only 30 minutes.

This week I will talk about my experiences of Sydney and Perth, because I am sure everyone wants to know how the tour is going to far. It kicked off last Saturday in Sydney. After landing in the morning and posting up last week's blog, I rested all day. This would be the third occasion I would play at the Sublime Stage in Sydney, but the previous two occasions have occurred during the daytime. This year, I closed the show with a 3 hour set from 7pm till 10pm. The vibe is totally different at night - there is an added ambiance due to the lights and lasers.

The Sydney fans were very loud and energetic, and that made it a very fun night for me. but I must say....damn it was HOT!! Between the gig in Medellin and this gig in Sydney, I don't think I have ever sweated so much. The lights on stage, which are usually off during the daytime, were on full blast after the sun went down, and they radiated so much heat that by the end of my set I was completely drenched.

During my set, there were a couple of guys who handed me an Australian soccerroos jersey, with my name on the back of it. I thought they just wanted me to sign it to give back to them, but it turned out that they bought it specifically for me! A lovely little memento to take home with me from my Australian trip. Thank you to the guys who went to the trouble of doing that. As you can see from the picture above, a fresh and clean t-shirt was just what was needed by the end of the night.

On Sunday morning I got up early and took the plane to Perth. This day would turn out to be one of the most memorable in recent times, and I will explain why.

I suppose that no matter who you are or what you aspire to being in life, everyone has their heroes. Your favorite actor, your favorite sports personality, your favorite singer - everyone dreams that one day, they will be able to meet one of their heroes.

When I was a teenager and my musical tastes were developing, my biggest influences came from the Bronx. I mentioned last week about Larry Levan and his Paradise Garage story being a huge inspiration for me, another person who I immensely looked up to was Grandmaster Flash. My earliest DJ sets and breakdancing parties would be filled with his music. He was one of the pioneers who figured out that DJing with two turntables and a mixer was a pretty cool idea.

Actually, even before I started DJing, Grandmaster Flash was the soundtrack to many of my breakdancing battles. There are so many fond memories of whenever I heard Scorpio come on at the local roller rink I used to frequent. My friends and I would take over the middle area and do our thing.

I was very excited when I heard the news that Grandmaster Flash was also on this tour. I met him in Sydney in the artist catering area and had a little chat. I did not tell him what a hero to me he was, because I didn't want to be nerdy or freak him out. But I was completely surprised when I saw that the sets had been changed in Perth and I would be playing after Flash. I got to the stage with plenty of spare time because I wanted to watch him perform. I think what was really incredible was the sheer number of other DJs that were all hanging out watching him as well - Richie Hawtin, Sander Kleinenberg, Tocadisco, Super8 & Tab, and even Paul Oakenfold came by to catch a glimpse of the great man. I have to say, he was INCREDIBLE. I got goodbumps when he played Rapture. And when Scorpio came on, I almost cried. WOW, what an amazing moment!

10 minutes before I was to go on, it suddenly hit me....oh crap, I have to try to follow him now. What could you possibly play after he ended his set with White Lines and It's Tricky by Run DMC?

Another huge highlight was when he grabbed the mic and introduced me to the crowd. My hero brought me up on stage and introduced me to the crowd!!! AMAZING. This was a night that is going to inspire me for such a long time. I have been working on this track for my Dakota album called "Roxy 84" which is inspired by the old breakdance vibe. I can't wait to get back into the studio and finish it now.

On Tuesday, we all flew to Brisbane and had some time off. For me it was time to work on the radio shows. This week was the "Toronto 09" release special on GDJB, where I debuted some of the tracks from my new compilation. I also included some older tunes that were highlights in some of my previous compilations (Ibiza '06 and Amsterdam '08). I had a lot of fun putting the show together. It's always cool to sometimes go back and find tunes that were an integral part of your DJ sets or compilations and give them a spin once again. The key component to every compilation I have done is that when looking back, people can view it as a snapshot of how Global DJ Broadcast or my live sets sounded at that time. I will be looking forward to reading the reviews of the Toronto CD on the message boards over the coming weeks. A lot of you will probably find yourselves listening to the first half of Disc 1 in a loop on recovery Sundays.

Some of the tracks I have been testing out in my live sets. For instance, The Sound of Flight track sounded amazing in Medellin, and the crowd were going absolutely crazy for it. Mr. Pit's tune Besides Words completely ripped the soundsystem at Ministry of Sound in London, and Tim Grube's remix of Tenishia's Everything was one of the closing tracks in the final half hour of my 6 hour set at Pacha in New York. A few of you were sending emails during the week asking if there would be an unmixed digital package for Toronto '09. I can confirm that there will indeed be one, I think it'll have around 10 of the tracks and it's coming out in a couple of weeks. Any tracks that aren't included in that package will get fully released with remixes on Coldharbour.

This weekend is a hectic one for sure. Last night the tour recommenced in Brisbane and continues later today in Melbourne. We will be landing soon and immediately after checking in to the hotel, I'll be heading straight to Queensbridge to setup the equipment to record my set for the next World Tour show. I'm playing a 3 hour set at the Future Music Festival itself, and then a 4 hour set at the afterparty. Finally, we bring the FMF series to a close tomorrow (Monday), with the final leg in Adelaide.

Next week, I'll check in with you guys from Barcelona. I will spend some time giving an overall review of my Australian experience and the entire Future Music Festivals, along with looking forward to a night in Catalonia, and also a quick return to Ireland and a big night at Lush in Portrush, which will be my first gig there in nearly 4 years.

Until then, take care and hope you all having a great weekend.