After a career spanning multiple decades, Markus Schulz has established himself as a legend in the world of trance music, and a veteran producer in the electronic music industry. Partaking in yet another year of October’s annual Amsterdam Dance Event, Schulz filled his week with surprises for fans, marathon performances, good times beside friends, and a beautiful perception of what he’d be sharing with those who were listening.
Spanning an entire night with his open to close set on Friday at Amsterdam’s famed Melkweg, Schulz took guests on an uplifting sonic journey through time. An incredible venue to host such an iconic artist, Melkweg is recognized as of the city’s leading event and concert venues. Established inside an old milk factory, the vast frame lends itself beautifully towards performances by such captivating artists like Schulz.
As ADE is a time that everyone in the industry can reflect on and appreciate the true raw talent that exists within dance music, a set like this from Schulz is the ideal opportunity to echo that whole mantra, and all that this week stands for. His exquisitely crafted set progressed through the astounding open to his main show, which wonderfully reflected his new album We Are The Light. As discussed in our conversation below, Schulz is very passionate about the messaging of the album both sonically and lyrically. He has taken it upon himself to share positivity and bring light to his fans at a time when we need it most in the world.
Dancing and shaking their worries away into the wee hours of the night, fans were able to get a taste of Schulz as an artist right before their very own eyes. Those who had never seen him live before were in for a real treat, as this was an extended show bursting full of energy and good vibrations, and an allowance to reveal his innate talent for production and performance.
The unforgettable night finished with a magical and unifying close, where the audience belted lyrics to “Upon My Shoulders” all together under appropriately colored yellow ADE light beams. It’s truly no surprise that Schulz draws such an intense and passionate crowd, as his personality of a storyteller eminently shines through his grandiose stage presence. His mission to spread love and to take care of one another certainly burst through, holding powerful messaging within each carefully selected track.
Read below for more of our enlightening conversation with Markus Schulz at the city’s charming Hotel Estherea during the kickoff of this year’s ADE, and at the heels of his latest album release.
Nocturnal Times: We’re sure you’re excited to be here at the opening of ADE 2018! You’ve got some exciting things lined up for the week, including your open to close event on Friday at Melkweg. What can you tell us about what will be in store that night?
Markus: Well it’s cool how everything worked out. Last weekend I did an open to close at Stereo in Montreal. It was 10 hours – I played until noon time, and it was all rabbit hole. I prepared for that show for a long time so it was really cool, and I feel like this open to close in Amsterdam is going to be very unique because I have all that ammunition from my Stereo set. I also have all of the new stuff from my album as well as all of the things I’ve been playing in my festival sets all Summer long. It’s going to be a great mix of everything, but I think it’s going to go on a real journey.
Nocturnal Times: Speaking further about your open to close sets because you do them so well and frequently, how do these come together for you?
Markus: First of all when I started my career when I was a teenager I was a resident DJ, and I would start the night and I would play until the last person left. I did that every Friday and Saturday, and so doing the open to close just kind of takes me back to where I was when I first started. It’s ironic how you get more famous and your sets get shorter! For me it’s almost like a tribute too, to all of the resident DJs that are out there that do this every week. The open to close sets are kind of a chance for me to spread my wings a little bit musically and to feel that feeling of when I first started DJing, when you just take people on a ride you know.
Nocturnal Times: Trance obviously lends itself well to these extended sets too.
Markus: Yeah because there’s so many layers of trance you know. There’s the more techy stuff, the more progressive stuff, the more uplifting stuff, and you can really tell a nice story throughout the night. You start off progressive, you build it up into your main show, and then you build it down into the rabbit hole where things get weird. It really glues together nicely throughout the night.
Nocturnal Times: What else do you have going on in Amsterdam while you’re here?
Markus: Tomorrow night I’ll be going over to the ASOT studio for an appearance there, as well as Ferry’s party at Panama tomorrow night. I’m going to go do a special surprise appearance there, so we’ll do some back to back there and it’ll be great to be on stage with Ferry again after so long. We’ve played shows together during the Summer, but separate sets. We’ve hung out all Summer long (flying together, doing the same shows together,) so Ferry and I are really good friends, but to actually get to do a back to back set – I don’t think we’ve done that for a year or almost two years now.
Nocturnal Times: The main focus for you right now is your new album, We Are The Light. Of course you’ll be incorporating that into your performances this week.
Markus: Of course – it’s part of my set. When I do my open to close set it always kind of builds into my main show, and then goes out of it. My main show now is definitely based around We Are The Light. I’m so happy because lyrically, it’s exactly what I want to say. It’s what I wanted to say on this album, and also when I’m on stage lyrically it’s what I want to say to the audience as well, so I’m really happy with the way it turned out and the messages in the music. I think it’s important to have for me, not just melodies that connect with the audience, but also words that connect. When I wrote “Destiny,” to see people’s reactions, especially the first couple of times I played it – no one knew what it was. But they heard the words and were just amazed. I feel the same way about “We Are The Light.” It has a line in it to me that’s very special and it goes, “What if we pray to the earth, and not religion.” It kind of sums up how I feel you know, we are all over the place and at the end of the day, if we don’t take care of each other, we’ve got nothing. I’m very proud when I hear that line come out of the speakers.
Nocturnal Times: Speaking of the song, alongside it is the video which is a super striking and intense music video.
Markus: We got up early in the morning and were going to film the video in the Redwood mountains of California. We get closer and closer and the weather starts turning on us, and we start going up the mountain and all of a sudden got caught in a blizzard and were like oh my God what do we do, because none of us had Winter clothes – none of us were prepared for a blizzard. We were in California in 70/80 degrees and now we’re in a blizzard! Nikki was great – she was like “let’s go!” The footage that we got with the Redwood trees, and the drones, and the snow falling, and Nikki just singing her heart out in this blizzard was amazing. She’s amazing – we love Nikki. She’s such a talented singer/ songwriter and to be honest, this album didn’t take shape until we wrote “We Are The Light.” That’s when I said, I understand what this album needs to be about now.
Nocturnal Times: All of the track titles allude to this same message of light and positivity.
Markus: Exactly. Last year I did my Dakota project, and it came from a dark place. I don’t like to go on about it, but for me when the Pulse Nightclub shooting happened it really tore a hole into my soul. It really hurt me a lot, especially because when I started my career I was DJing in the gay clubs, because at the time that was the only place that you found forward-thinking people who were into dance music. The gay clubs were the place – if you wanted to advance yourself as a DJ, you needed to be in the gay clubs. So I have a very close connection with the gay clubs because that’s where I started and when that happened it really, really hurt me. So I made the Dakota album out of a dark place and what I was feeling inside. When I started on the We Are The Light album, it was like okay – enough is enough. We need to be the light, and we need to be the positive change in the world. We can’t keep looking to other people and to other politicians to be our saviors – we have to be the ones to do it. When you look out to the audience at the festivals and you see the flags and people on each other’s shoulders, and the smiles. That’s kind of the message there – we need to be the light, and the example for the world to follow.
“When I started on the We Are The Light album, it was like okay – enough is enough. We need to be the light, and we need to be the positive change in the world. We can’t keep looking to other people and to other politicians to be our saviors – we have to be the ones to do it.”
Nocturnal Times: It’s so nice to see you embody your different personas and feelings in these varying forms of music.
Markus: You know, I’ve been doing this long enough to where my fans understand me and who I am as an artist. They understand that I’m a complex and eclectic artist who has many different sounds and different moods. They understand it and appreciate it, and they can connect with me too on all levels. It’s really nice when your fans are trusting.
Nocturnal Times: Other featured artists on the album include Emma Hewitt, Christina Novelli, and more classic vocalists. Did you line them up before the album, or how did these collaborations come into place?
Markus: Well, Emma and I have been talking for years about making music together. “Safe From Harm” actually came out on the In Bloom compilation which I did at the beginning of the year. Every year on my radio show I do an all-vocal trance edition in the Springtime, called In Bloom. The Emma track I made for that radio show, and I knew it was special when we were working on it, but I realized this needed to be included on the album as well. At the time I was working with JES already as well on that song, and with Christina Novelli, actually, that came around January. We were on the Groove Cruise together, and we had a late night out on the dance floor together and it was a bit scandalous, like the techno after hours. From that moment, the idea for “Symphony of Stars” kind of came together, but it was really fun and we were clicking and we knew we needed to make music together. She’s amazing, fun, and has the voice of an angel. I’m looking forward to going to Iceland soon to film the video for that song, so maybe there will be more scandalous nights coming in Iceland!
Photos courtesy of Markus Schulz’s Facebook page.
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