As one of the worlds most appraised DJ-Producers, Markus Schulz inspires awe and wonder. He traverses the territories between house, trance and progressive; remaining true to the stirrings of euphoric trance while taking the dancefloor through a conventionally progressive journey. His willingness to push the boundaries is not about genres, rules or regulations. For Markus Schulz, it is about the universal stamp of his signature and appeal.
Originally born in Eschwege, Germany, Markus landed in the United States within the volatile melting pot of 1988. It was a burgeoning electronic age: the descent of disco and funk; the rise of keyboards, midi and the turntables; the build to rap, hip hop, breaks, house, belearic and techno with trance still to arrive. Exciting times were ahead, just waiting for a young, spongelike mind to absorb and soar with ideas. But no quest is without its sacrifices, its ups and downs. It was an emotionally difficult childhood where music would be a saviour, allowing Markus an alternate sphere for the dark demons to escape. Alternating between his own name and the dark alias of Dakota, he has delved into the terrains of techno and house, releasing remixes for big names in the industry, from Madonna to Fat Boy Slim. His label Coldharbour Recordings and podcast Global DJ Broadcast continue as far-reaching platforms promoting his iconic sound.
His has been a journey of realisations where fans the world-over accept Markus’ style of unlimited borders and frontiers. He remains marked as one of the most high sought after DJs for clubs, festivals and events alike across Europe, The States and Australasia. While I interviewed Markus a few years ago, his words then, still resonate through to today. Markus Schulz has left an indelible mark on the dance world at large. And in the lead up to his set at Family Nightclub, I look back on what drives him, the quest for his legacy and the Markus Schulz signature sound.
You’re an unstoppable force jet setting here and there around the world at every major event and festival on the planet. What drives you?
I had a really hard childhood growing up. I looked to music to uplift me and get me through. Without music, I don’t think I’d be alive right now; it really helped me through the darkest days of my life. Now, I’m in a position where I can be a voice for people out there with the same kind of things I experienced growing up. It’s ironic: I had such a hard childhood and my music had that kind of tone to it. But then as my career started exploding and became amazing, it’s really hard to make depressing music when you are living the ultimate dream. So in a way, my music and what drives me has changed a lot. But at the end of the day, I’m just hoping that my music can touch people the way music touched me growing up. I get so many messages from people telling me about their hard times and how music has gotten them through: I play for them.
You have experienced a great deal of success and worked so hard to get where you have. When you first started, you had so much to achieve. What are you aiming towards now?
I think you get to a certain point where you are content with your standing in the scene. You have to be someone who paves the way for the next generation. People come and go into the scene and I want to leave something – like a legacy for the scene – and pave the way. I don’t plan on retiring any time soon. As the next stage of my career, I want to leave a legacy, I want to leave a history, and be looked as someone gave to the scene. I want to be a bridge between the last generation and the new generation.
In this era where everyone is a DJ, what is the mark of a great DJ?
A unique sound and a unique style. It helps if you are recognised for a certain sound that you produce. Part of being a great DJ nowdays means you have to produce music. I also think it’s that connection with the audience. It doesn’t matter if you’re jumping up and down and throwing your hands in the air or if you’re low key: you have to be totally in tune with the audience.
So what’s the Markus Schulz signature sound?
I’ve never been a traditional trance DJ. I’ve always looked for the more sexy groove, and then looked for the melody on top of those grooves. I don’t like harsh techno sounds; more the warm grooves with melodies on top; the sexiness and the melody. Though it is labelled as ‘trance’ and sexy isn’t something that trance is known for, that’s what I look for in my sound.