Markus Schulz: van burnout naar een album vol plezier

Half juni kreeg ik het nieuwe artiestenalbum van Markus Schulz thuisgestuurd. Na het schrijven een review vroeg Armada of ik het leuk vond tijdens de persdag op 27 juni langs te komen en Markus wat vragen te stellen. Omdat ik alleen zijn muziek kende greep ik deze kans met beide handen aan om ook eens een klein kijkje in zijn persoonlijkheid en motivatie te krijgen.

First question should be the easiest one…..
Who is Markus Schulz?

Wow! That’s actually a hard one. I don’t know…..Who am I? I am just a guy who, you know, kind of just eh makes music from eh….. I really don’t know. Let me answer the rest of your questions and maybe people will understand a little bit better then. Cause I mean ‘who am I?’

No sweat! You were born in Germany and you still have a house in Berlin and you go back there regularly. What is it that still attracts you in this city?
Well, the Berlin scene I love because of the people there. It’s people that maybe don’t fit in anywhere else. And for me those people are what’s so special about Berlin. It just has this really cool artistic vibe, whether it be music, whether it be painting, architecture….it’s just a really cool, eclectic group of people.

Is it an international scene? Or do you mix more with Germans over there?
I would say it’s a lot more international than it used to be, but it’s still primarily German. What I take from Berlin is just the vibe. The Berlin music scene is very much techno, electro and that kind of stuff. And what I do doesn’t really fit that mold. Trance is not really that big over there. There is a lot of good producers and dj’s in Germany but it’s a very difficult scene as far as trance goes. Kyau & Albert do amazing stuff but when you think of German trance you don’t think of them. It seems like people never get the respect, in their own hometown that they do elsewhere. And I think that’s what it is with German trance.

What I take from Berlin is that energy, that vibe, that inspiration that comes from Berlin. I’m sure that when you think of the Berlin music scene you don’t think of Markus Schulz, that’s for sure. In Berlin I feel like I am just one of the people and that inspires me.

What else inspires you besides your visits to Germany, what role or influence does you wife Heather have for instance?
She’s behind the scenes. She keeps everything going you know. She’s kind of the middle person between all of my business contacts like Armada and me. So I can just focus on music and not have to worry about any of the other stuff that gets in the way. She is a solid base and she handles everything.

You have the German as well as the American nationality. Therefore you are probably the person to tell us what the differences are between American and European ways of partying….
You used to be able to see a difference but nowadays with the internet being as big as it is in our scene it doesn’t matter where you are. The people that come out are very educated on the music. People have downloaded sets, they’re familiar with what’s gonna be played, they’ve heard a lot of the stuff. I don’t see any differences in the interaction and that’s what so exciting. So in the past there were differences, but not anymore. You could be in Australia, Dubai, Amsterdam or Miami…you can play a song that maybe two weeks old and people are singing along to it because of the internet. It had made this a global scene. But maybe I am just fortunate I have really enthusiastic fans.

Talking about mp3 and downloading; there’s a big worldwide discussion going on about the illegal downloading of mp3’s. What are your views on this topic?
In my opinion the mp3’s and the way they circulate is a good tool, but I also think that people need to be conscious and contribute to the scene. People that leech all these mp3’s and never contribute back into the scene…that’s not good. Yes, a lot of times music doesn’t get out there quick enough and people are hungry for it, that’s understandable. But at the same time, somehow, you need to give back. Because there’s a lot of really talented musicians that I know who just can’t make music anymore because they have to support a family. That’s sad to see.
I do believe in paying for mp3. At places like Beatport and the Armada online shop people are able to get the music that they want by downloading legally. And that’s really cool. I think over the last two years especially there’s been a change of mentality. Two years ago I think it was a free fall. Free download, sharing everything and now the music is more readily available online to purchase legally. I think we’re changing people’s attitudes about downloading. The media about Napster and Kazaa opened a lot of record company’s eyes. They understood there was another way of making business.

I do like the whole download idea because it cuts down on the music industry’s carbon footprint. All that vinyl, all that pollution that happens when you press all that vinyl and stuff…. That’s something that’s never been addressed or looked at. The downloading is clean, it’s great for the environment. That’s something I don’t think we’ve really explored.

Do you find any truth in the assertion that you wouldn’t be as successful as you are without the whole mp3-scene?
Yeah. I sort of consider myself as the voice of the next generation producers. Most of the producers that I’m in contact with and that I have connections with are younger and that’s the next generation and they grew up in a digital age. With my radio show I plant the seed with this next generation and that’s how I’ve been able to be successful. I don’t think I would’ve been able to do that if it weren’t for the internet. It has made my voice be heard all over the world. To that I am grateful. And at the same time I understand that you have to give back. If I’m out somewhere and I’m spinning and my cd gets messed up or I gave it to someone, threw it into the audience or whatever I’ll go onto Beatport … I purchase so much music every week. Like I said: it’s important to give back and contribute to the economy of our scene.

Before we go on to talk about the future and your new album, let’s look back at the past a bit. How do you look back on your last album, Coldharbour and your time there?
I lived in Arizona and I was kind of lost as an artist, I was doing a lot of major label remix work, a lot of commercial stuff and I literally burned myself out. I was ready to quit. I mean I was done. So I moved to London to kind of ehm…a pilgrimage to find myself as an artist. I had a studio in Brixton which is like the ghetto. Under the railroad tracks on Coldharbour Lane. And That’s where I just opened myself up and found who I was as an artist. It was a whole inspiration. It was the hardest thing I have done in my life. As a matter of fact I was in London two weeks ago and I went to Brixton. It was pouring with rain and I walked around there and I was looking at everything thinking ‘Wow this was just so difficult but it was amazing’.

So why did you choose London to reinvent yourself instead of Berlin which you earlier stated to be a big inspiration?
At that time London was the epicenter of where everything was happening. It was where I felt comfortable going.

Next month your new artist album Progression is released. What is the story behind this album?
Well, people always say your first artist album is a lifetime in the making. So my first artist album took me two, three years to make. It was a really hard emotional experience because there were so many things in my life that I was going back to to draw an inspiration from. That was a really heavy project for me. And when that was done it felt like there was so much weight lifted off my shoulders. Then when I started working on this album it just felt like this was the next step, the progression for me. I went into the studio and just had fun. Create the music that was inside of me but without all the heavy emotional burden that was over me on the first album.
The first one was very therapeutic for me and this one was just fun to make. The album is definitely a reflection of who I am as an artist. An artist album is a lot different from a mix cd. A mix cd is like a snapshot of my dj-sets at that time, but an artist album you want to look back at at the end of your career and go ‘that was a good time right there, that was who I was’.

Do you have favorite tracks on the album?
You know what it is? At one point or another every song on the album was my favorite song. Every one of them is like a child. I created thirteen children and you now ask me to pick my favorite child. Each one has it’s own time and reason for existing. I’m really proud of Trinidad to Miami because I actually composed that during a flight from Trinidad to Miami. I played a gig at Trinidad. I went from the gig straight to the airport. I had a crazy seven o’clock morning flight. The crowd in Trinidad didn’t want me to go, I could’ve kept going but I had this flight to catch. I had all these ideas and feeling inside of me and this rhythm that was reverberating inside of me from the audience. So as soon as I got on the airplane I pulled out my laptop and I started creating. We took off and the sun was coming up and we flew over the Atlantic…. It starts off really clubby as sort of an extension to the set I just played and then as you look out over the ocean the sounds start to come together. That was a very exciting and fun project to do.

Let’s move on to the future…apart from the weather here in Holland, the summer season has finally begun and your first Ibiza session has aired on your radio show. What else can we expect from you this season?
I’m doing my residency in Ibiza again and I’m really excited because of the album and all the friends that I’ve made on the island. I did a mix cd Ibiza ‘06 which was last season and I’m really excited to bring all this back to the island. Every time we go there we just have a good time. I think that’s the big thing I’m looking forward to, expanding on the friendships that I’ve made there.

Have you heard about the clubs closing down and all the politics going on on Ibiza?
I’ve heard about it and to be honest to you I didn’t read a single article about it because I don’t want that to hang over my head when I’m on the island. When I get on the island I just want to have a good time and let people have a good time. So I try and stand clear and let the people that handle my business worry with that stuff. Just tell me what time I’m playing and I’m there and let’s have fun. The rest is irrelevant for me.

To close off: your solo night at Panama in Amsterdam. Is this going to be a special night for you?
I love the long sets. I used to play eight hour sets and I miss that because when you do a long set you can really tell a story. You don’t just bang it our for six hours and a lot of planning goes into my solo sets to really make that night have special feel to it. I think this is the first time I’ve done an extended set like this here in Holland and so I’ve planned a lot of surprises and fun things. You’ll hear a lot of the new album and a lot of the tracks I’m going to do over the summer. I’ll make it a journey.

Any message to your fans in Holland?
I really appreciate everyone’s support. I believe in the sound that I play and that I create and I really appreciate that people are able to connect to me through this music. It’s really special. Sometimes it’s easiest to go in and play the biggest banging tracks and stand up on stage with your hands in the air. But this music is deep and not so obvious a lot of the times so for people to able to connect is really cool.

Dit interview verscheen op