Markus Schulz is someone who needs no introduction. Over the past decade, he has become a critically-acclaimed and respected DJ/producer, who is often touted as the biggest influence in trance and progressive dance. Last year alone, in terms of accolades, Markus was voted the #1 DJ in the USA (ahead of other heavyweights, such as Steve Aoki, Skrillex and Diplo), and 13th overall in DJ Mag’s Top 100 poll; thereby, cementing his place as EDM royalty.
EDM in America
Bearing in mind that the US has always been considered the Holy Grail of genuine global success in music (financially, anyway), the America’s top DJ gong probably holds more value than the Top 100. Correct? “[It’s] not something I’d stopped to think about before,” Markus declares. “I guess, on balance, it probably does mean more, or at least something markedly different. It was certainly a great year to poll that kind of result, considering electronic music’s momentous shift over the last 18 months in the States.”
Indeed. The electronic music revolution in the States has been so massive that Billboard has recently launched its own EDM chart. Markus weighs in with his thoughts on the new chart, and the possibility of the genre getting even bigger in the US.
“It’s an enormously positive thing – not to mention somewhat ironic, given America’s hand in giving birth to electronic music in the first place. Living in the States for a long time, there were periods, listening to the radio, hearing the dominance of other genres that I began to wonder if it would ever enter the mainstream. In terms of getting bigger, most certainly. Right now, it’s really only neck-and-neck with R&B and hip hop. If EDM history around the rest of the globe is anything to go by, I think it’s just getting started.”
Scream for Markus
In 2012, Markus released his fourth album, Scream, which he dubbed his most diverse one to date. Asked if he will be heading down the diverse route again on his next album, he replies, “I’m lucky [that I’ve had] my Markus Schulz Presents Dakota moniker, which, for the last few years, has provided me with the most diverse, creative outlet possible. With that, I get to channel techno, house, electro, progressive and other sub and micro-genres. So, I’m always looking to go down a diverse route of sorts.”
In the press release for Scream, Schulz stated that the title was also the album’s mission statement. So, everyone wants to know: was his mission successful? “That box can go down as ticked, I think. The reactions to the tracks, especially the singles to date – as they had the most exposure – have been even greater than I dared hope for. I’ve heard plenty of screaming over the course of the last 6 months, and I’m happy to say it was the right kind! Think the polar opposite to the screaming in Scream, the movie, and you’re there,” he jokes.
Fans will probably continue screaming (in a good, non-scary way) throughout 2013, because Markus has promised that the material will be coming as thick and fast, as it did in 2012.
“Always! What is a producer that doesn’t produce?” he smiles. Already this year, he paired up with Armin van Buuren for the scintillating track The Expedition, and now he reveals what will be the subsequent follow-up. “My next single will be The Spiritual Gateway – it’s the theme to Transmission 2013 – one of Europe’s biggest arena-sized trance events, which took place in Prague in January. I headlined it this year and this was my fourth year of doing the anthem; so, suffice to say, I’m a big fan. Between that, The Expedition and the World Tour: Best of, I think it’s [been] a pretty good kick off [to] the year.”
What South Africa Can Expect
In early March, South Africa will receive Markus Schulz again. It has been a while since he was last here for the Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project in 2010, but he says he has a good notion of what’s been going on in our local scene. “As a DJ, who goes around the world many, many times a year, often playing 150 gigs or more, I have a reasonable idea of what EDM direction a country – or region – is heading in. I’m looking forward to getting there in March and seeing how tuned in I am.”
Additionally, Schulz also elaborates on his favourite South African artist – and surprisingly, it’s not Die Antwoord. “I certainly respect what Protoculture has been doing over the last few years. In terms of EDM, or trance at least, Nate [Raubenheimer] definitely has it going on.”
When asked if he tried anything different on his last visit to South Africa, Markus responds, “If we’re talking different, in a musical sense, not specifically so in South Africa – or any other country for that matter. Those variations tend to take place more floor-to-floor. People are generally aware that I play across the range – everything from deep progressive right up to really pumping tough trance. Going into each set, I have a clear idea of the tracks I want to play and the order in which I want to spin them. You do get gigs where the audience, as a whole, is looking for you to take it deeper, or harder, more vocally, or in another direction – in which case, you react to that and adapt.”
Trance Never Dies
In closing, Markus explains why trance seemingly never dies, even if other genres and sub-genres of dance appear, disappear, re-appear, and so forth. “It’s a very adaptable style for one, as witnessed by its many sub and micro-genres. It’s often very ‘musical’ too – relative to some other EDM sub-genres, anyway. The use of melody and harmony means, in addition to its instantaneous instant impact, it leaves more of a subconscious impression. That gives it longer-term appeal; has more people returning time and time again to its tracks. I’d also say its sense of community – the whole ‘family’ movement – has played a large part. I feel it’s a combination of all those aspects wrapped up together,” Markus concludes.
Check out our review of Scream on the album review pages.
For more information on Markus Schulz, please click here.