Watching The World with… Markus Schulz!

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We had the chance to talk with Markus about his new album “Watch The World” and much more! Enjoy reading!
TranceAttack: Hey Markus, first of all congratulations for the release of your sixth artist album “Watch the World”! Can you tell us, what is the story behind it? What can the listener expect?
It’s another huge milestone for my career, and one which is driven with the most personal attachment. Following the accumulation of five artist albums and two Dakota albums at this point, I wanted to evaluate and see where I wanted to go in the future. What was the next step to take me forward and make things more exciting?
So when I undertook a period of reflection, my mind cast back to the days of my youth, and the things I enjoyed. When I was at school, the one subject I excelled at was creative writing, and my teachers would always be encouraging me to try it as often as possible. However, even at that age, having fallen in love with music and listening to the radio, I was so determined to chase my dream of becoming a DJ, even at the expense of everything else.
When doors began to open for me on the DJ front, next step for me was moving into production. And when you are at that young age, you expend all of your creative energy into the music – playing around with the synthesizers and turning the knobs. So my desire for creative writing began to fade away over time.
But I went into this songwriting adventure with the mantra that everything is built from a pen, a blank piece of paper and a guitar – writing words which lead to the creation of a song, and build the music ground it.
So it’s a very personal presentation overall, with 17 tracks reflecting on personal experiences of varying nature. It’s a case of you and me, hanging out, and I’m going to tell you some stories if you are happy to lend an ear.
TranceAttack: Tell us something about the history of the album. When did you start working on it?
I started very shortly after completing the Scream 2 album. After signalling the intentions to explore whatever talents I could muster in the world of songwriting, my management kindly arranged for me to attend a series ofwriting camps, taking place in Los Angeles and Bucharest. This provided me the opportunity to meet some incredible singers – people who have been nominated for Grammys in the past, and allowed me to present what I was feeling and wanted to convey into words, ask questions and most importantly, gain confidence when they provided me feedback.
I wrote around 40 songs in total for the project, and it was quite a task whittling that list down to 17 for the final cut.
TranceAttack: Is there any meaning by behind the title of the album?
Ideally, I wanted to name the album after one of the track titles. And in analysing the names, I had to determine which would best paint an overall portrait of what the album is about. I spend endless hours on airplanes and always looking out the window. From that perspective, the words “Watch the World” took on greater meaning. When you think about it, how many stories are being developed and shared in various locations around the globe on a daily basis?
And with the album being built around songs based on life stories, it became the most appropriate and poignant slogan to use. The track itself is beautiful, and having a history with Lady V in the past, through the likes of Erase You and Winter Kills Me, our chemistry was strong with Watch the World itself.
To me, it’s just a beautiful title because it means so much as far as us watching each other, other people watching us. We’re watching the world go by.
TranceAttack: When you look back to the creating processes of your albums, how much did the production process and also the creative process change?
The catalyst towards the direction of Watch the World as an overall presentation was the response to Destiny, a song based on my personal relationship.
I met Delacey for the first time during one of the writing camps in Los Angeles, and I got into detail about the song, and the story I was trying to tell. When she sang it back to me, it was one of the most touching moments I have ever experienced. Collectively, we said to ourselves, this could be special. But when you’re in the studio, you just never know whether or not it will connect with a listening audience.
I can’t express enough how incredible the response from the fans has been. And that response provided me with the confidence I needed to make the Watch the World as more of a songwriting-based project.
On the musical side, with the production of Watch the World, I consciously wanted to utilise more organic instruments like guitars. Even if you don’t hear it in the mix, there’s a guitar buried there, or a piano that’s buried in there because it just brings out a frequency that I feel is missing or has been missing in a lot of productions lately. It just warms it up so nice.
TranceAttack: Watching your tour agenda it seems you “Watch(ed) the world” all over and played also in any country on the planet. Are there still any blind spots on the map? Which are the places you always happy about to come back?
You know, I think that one of the privileges of touring internationally is that you get the opportunity to see all these places that you could never imagine visiting. I remember playing at a show in Jordan a decade ago, thinking it was all so surreal. Or visiting something so beautiful like the Taj Mahal in India last year.
If you had to pick just one favorite location, that would be very difficult, because each city and country has its own nuance and intricacy that appeals to me.
So in mentioning a few – in terms of passion of the audience, the two cities that immediately spring to mind are Mexico City and Buenos Aires. The fans in both of those cities are absolutely incredible, and they make me feel like I am one of them. It’s so humbling when you speak to these people in person or online and thee first thing they say is “thank you for coming ‘home’ to us”. That’s incredible really. A few years ago, when Argentina was celebrating their bicentennial, I was invited to play in Buenos Aires. The atmosphere turned a two hour set into almost six.
Then of course you have the hallowed clubs where I am given the opportunity to play the open to close solo sets – Space in my hometown of Miami, Avalon in Los Angeles, Stereo in Montreal, Ministry of Sound in London among others – there is a special connection with the fans in those cities because of those magical nights.
Markus Schulz
TranceAttack: The album comes along as double disc and wonderful acoustic versions on disc 2. This is definitely a new side from you. Can you tell us your idea and motivation behind?
With the exception of Destiny and Fears, the acoustic versions that appear on the second disc of the album were produced prior to the original, disc one versions. This was mostly prompted through the creation of Facedown.
Because of the story involved in Facedown – where it’s two people who have screwed up in their lives to the point where they have nothing but each other, and their plea is for each of them to stick with the other through this difficult time, coming out on the other side intact. The radio edit, a more acoustic driven version with basic percussion, was deliberately the interpretation I wanted people to listen to first – to listen closely to the words and understand the story, and of course the big club version with the trance riffs would be the one you would hear me play in my livesets.
Following on from that, and because people appreciated the value in the story, it became more apparent to me that writing the song with a basic guitar melody was the best way forward to complete the Watch the World album. So that was how the “acoustic disc” so to speak became a reality, and of course it made sense to go back and do Destiny in that style.
TranceAttack: Your European fans can enjoy your sounds regular at TRANSMSSION in Prague. Will you also be back for their 10th anniversary?
Well, I’ve just had a very special 8 hour open to close solo set at SaSaZu in Prague to celebrate the release of Watch the World, and I’m certainly hoping it isn’t my last visit to the Czech capital in 2016. My main Transmission focus at the moment is headlining their first ever event in Melbourne this July, which is a huge breakthrough for them, and very proud to carry an ambassadorial role on their behalf.
TranceAttack: Coldharbour Recordings is about to celebrate the 250th release – also an awesome achievement. What about the plans for the label for the future?
I’m so proud of the label and everyone associated with it, from the producers whose names you see on the release, and my own guys behind the scenes assisting.
The ethos of the label is exactly the same now as it was at the outset – to provide a platform for upcoming and exciting producers to showcase their talents. Some names have come and gone, but I am still proud that we were able to help them build their careers and provide guidance in helping them to improve. With the expansion into the Schulz Music Group management and bookings, many of these people become part of your extended family, and you establish bonds with them that stretch beyond the music.
The label will continue to grow and represent what you typically hear in my livesets, and the Coldharbour club nights will increase with occurrence. We are making another stride this summer, with the first Coldharbour Beach Festival taking place in the Netherlands at the beginning of August. And in a very proud moment for us, our own Solid Stone is releasing the very first artist album on the label, with Introspection coming out at the end of June. So it’s very exciting times all round.
TranceAttack: In my personal opinion there is no other name in the trance scene so close connected to “open to close” sets like Markus Schulz. What makes these sets for you after so many years still so special?
It’s about paying tribute to the art of DJing – the key reason why this scene has thrived on such a tremendous scale worldwide throughout the years.
You can have the spectacular settings of Tomorrowland or Electric Daisy Carnival, but none of that would be possible without the promoters and the DJs who sacrificed so much in helping to break talent through nightclubs. That is why I have huge respect for resident DJs today – because they are the ones who are helping to keep the wheels turning for a nightclub in a given city on a weekly basis.
Festivals are hugely important, and I do enjoy the spectacular settings they present, along with the opportunity to cast a wider net to your fanbase. However, my favorite gigs are the ones where I get to perform from open to close; because it means I can present the full spectrum of my sound and take people on a real journey throughout the night. I need those open to close solo sets for my soul.
TranceAttack: Are there already ideas or may be already plans about a new “city” compilation in 2016?
For the moment, my priority is on A&Ring remixes for Watch the World, but a new compilation is in the back of my mind for sure. Depending on the timeline, possibly late this year, possibly early next year, but I’m sure everyone will understand that for now I have to focus on everything Watch the World entails.
Plus you have to consider that my entry for Ministry of Sound’s Trance Nation compilation series was only six months ago, so hopefully there’s still plenty of shelf life left in that.
TranceAttack: What do you expect in 2016 for yourself and for the trance scene?
The year will be defined by the Watch the World album, and I would like to take the opportunity to thank you guys and everyone out there who has purchased and supported it. There are some amazing stories to be shared, and I hope to hear plenty from the fans while travelling along the road throughout the rest of 2016.
In terms of the trance scene, we are in a very good place. It’s fantastic that people are trying to find the magic in the melody again. I’m super happy about that.
TranceAttack: Thank you for the interview and all the best for the future!
Find all details for Markus Schulz – Watch the World here:
Markus Schulz - Watch the World

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