Markus Schulz to Wannabe DJs: Work Hard, Don't Just "Turn on the Kryo and Strobe Lights"
"It's all about the art of DJing and showing people what the beauty of this art form is," Markus Schulz tells Crossfade about his mission as an EDM star.
"I hope that it's not lost because music is evolving to a popular commercial standard right now. There has to be a way to be able to highlight and put focus on where it all started."
Perhaps the purest expression of dance music's essence, according to Schulz, is the extended solo set. "I don't really want people facing the DJ booth and just fist-pumping, but to feel more like they're in the party, and I am part of the party," he insists.
"That's what I love about these kinds of sets and this is the point where I like to get to, where it's now about the party and not about the DJ."
We here at Crossfade chatted with Schulz about the tricks for becoming a "marathon DJ," .
You're known as a so-called "marathon DJ." What tips would you give to aspiring jocks who think they're ready to take on this challenge?
It's for sure all about the art of DJing -- the art form. And I would say study, study lots of different DJs. To do these sets, you have to have an eclectic taste in music. You can't just play the same style all night long, because it just doesn't work; you really have to take people on a journey through all kinds of sounds and all kinds of moods. At the same time, it all has to fit who you are as an artist; you really have to study and do a lot of work as far as making the songs fit your set and fit who you are.
I may play a song by Capital Cities or something, but I've remixed it in a way to where it fits my set and to where it fits who I am as an artist. Things like that really make a big difference in separating you from everybody else who just goes on Beatport and downloads the Top 20 and goes to a gig and says, "Alright, turn on the kryo and strobe lights. I'm here to play."
What are some production techniques that you suggest that these artists practice while performing an extended set in order to keep the crowd's attention?
The funny thing is that, in order to keep the crowd's attention, sometimes you have to go in the opposite direction and kind of lose their attention. Let them get lost in the grooves and let them get lost in the sounds for a while, so you can hit them with a moment; it's all about moments when you're playing sets like this. To have one moment after another for eight or ten hours, it gets really fatiguing. So, sometimes, what you have to do is lose people by playing a track that doesn't kind of do much, it just kind of grooves and builds out of that into a moment.
Are you touring with a visual set up on your upcoming Scream 2 Bus Tour?
Yeah, the bus tour is going to be cool. If you're in a place like New York City, Miami, L.A., or any of these big cities, you get to experience some of the best clubs in the world. In some of these smaller markets, many people haven't been able to experience anything like that before. So it's opportunity to bring that kind of quality of production to the smaller markets. In turn, I hope that these people all come out and see me when I'm playing at festivals.
With the visuals, it's an opportunity to express something. I work closely with my visual team to bring another dimension to my show and give people another view into who I am as an artist. It's not going to be images of go-go dancers and girls making out on the screen, the visuals will lend itself to who I am as an artist and I love to be able to express that both visually and with my audio.
See also: WMC and MMW 2014: A 282-Party Guide
You're performing with Ferry Corsten as New World Punx at this year's Ultra Music Festival. You've played the fest numerous times in the past. But how does it feel to be returning under this new moniker for the first time?
Ferry and I are kind of in the same place in our career where we are just looking to have fun and this project just exploded from that. We've been getting offers to do this New World Punx concept all over the world. We've played Madison Square Garden and a lot of big festivals. For us to do this at Ultra is really cool, because it's an event that you kind of look forward to, there's only a few festivals at that level. To bring our New World Punx project home to Miami, where I live, is something I'm really looking forward to. But at the same time, we're not doing anything different than what we normally do.
How did the New World Punx project get going?
Actually, the way it started was because we were just doing it for fun. A promoter in the UK booked Ferry and I, and left it up to us to decide our set times. Ferry and I decided to do something fun, so he would play an hour and I would play an hour and so on, going back and forth. In between, rather than me just walking into the booth and taking over with transitions, we decided to do back to backs. That was the whole idea, and after the first transition, we wound up going back to back the rest of the night. We were just doing our thing, being DJs, and having fun. I don't think we would be doing this New World Punx project if it wasn't something that came about organically and just clicked.
How do you adjust your production when working alongside Ferry?
One of the things we try to do with this New World Punx project is we try to make everything peak, with lots of build-ups and excitement. That's what is different about the New World Punx set: the tracks are a lot shorter and a lot more rapid-fire. Like I said before, we look at it as we make battle weapons and unleash one after another in a furry.
The thing is that, sometimes with EDM, the purists take everything so seriously and our concept was to put the fun back into it. You can play forward-thinking music and at the same time present it in a way that's fun so people can jump around and get lost in it without having these two-minute long breakdowns where everything is serious and kind of pretentious.
That's the whole mindset of this project, just to put some fun and excitement back into trance music. It definitely puts a different vibe in the air.
Crossfade's Top Blogs
Markus Schulz Presents ColdHarbour Recordings. With Lange, Rafael Frost, and others. Monday, March 24. Dream, 1532 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. The show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets cost $35 plus fees via wantickets.com. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-674-8018 or visit dreammia.com.
Markus Schulz Open-to-Close Marathon. Thursday, March 27. Space, 34 NE 11th St., Miami. The show starts at 10 p.m. and tickets cost $50 plus fees via wantickets.com. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-375-0001 or visit clubspace.com.
New World Punx. Featuring Markus Schulz and Ferry Corsten. As part of Ultra Music Festival 2014. Friday, March 28. Bayfront Park, 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Tickets cost $399.95 plus fees via ultratix.ticketfreak.com. Visit ultramusicfestival.com.
Follow Alex Silva on Twitter @Silvasgoldd.
301 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami, FL 33132
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.