Since the early 90's Markus Schulz has been pioneering and transforming the trance music scene. He is unmistakably one of the best DJs in the world and has won the coveted title of America's Best DJ twice.
At Electric Daisy Carnival we were honored to speak with the legendary unicorn slayer, he reveals what his creative process looks like, what inspires him and what his fans can expect next.
Electric Vibes: What's your biggest inspiration in the music industry and why?
Markus Schulz: Yeah, definitely the audience. It doesn't matter, I can be jet lagged or whatever but the minute I see the audience, the minute I hear the bass, and, smell the fog machine—you know, I'm up.
Electric Vibes: How would you describe the energy here at EDC?
Markus Schulz: It's like an overload of your senses here. So many stages, so much art. I mean, we're just sitting here and there's like lasers shooting across the entire speedway. I mean, it's just an overload of senses here. It's amazing.
Electric Vibes: What does your creative process look like?
Markus Schulz: Sometimes I start off with a groove, sometimes I start off with a melody. You know, it's like a blank canvas, you gotta start somewhere, you start putting things in. What you put in, is not necessarily what is gonna be there at the end but you gotta start putting something on the canvas to get the ideas moving, you know? So that's how I work in the studio. You know, same thing when I'm preparing my set, you know. You just kinda like, "All right ... This, this, this and this" and then you start adding and taking away. And I think that's the one thing, what you start with, no matter if you're preparing a set or producing music. What you start with is not what you're gonna end with. So it's a process for sure.
Markus Schulz: The label was started when I was living in London. On Coldharbour Lane was my studio, so it was named after that. But you know, as years went by, one thing I noticed was that when you sign an artist a track from an artist to your label, you just sign the song. And it's really hard to guide young people's career with only a song. And then they go to another label and release a song there. And it's just kinda like, all over the place.I started Schulz Music Group to kind of like, guide some of the young guys and manage them. And we have a whole team of agents and management and it works out really well because now these artists can get the benefit of proper guidance. Not just somebody who wants to sign a song from them. And then that's it.
Electric Vibes: Is there any particular track of yours that has deeper meaning? And what does it mean to you?
Markus Schulz: Well obviously, "Destiny." Because it's a song that I wrote about my personal relationship with Adina. Whenever I play it we always look at each other and just smile, you know. Because it was written about our relationship.
Electric Vibes: Aw, that's amazing. What drives your passion to produce music?
Markus Schulz: Well my father was a musician so it's kind of in my blood. I've always listened to music differently, I thought I was crazy when I was young. I would listen to music and I would analyze it. And I would, kind of like, reverse engineer songs, you know? Listen to a song, and then try and figure it out and take it apart and re-do it by myself. And so, that just led to me creating my own tracks.
Electric Vibes: How are Dakota sets different from Markus Schulz sets?
Markus Schulz: Markus Schulz, I write about and I make music for the audience. For and from the audience, you know? And then the Markus Schulz stuff is more internal. I'm more an introvert, when I'm in the studio writing "Dakota" stuff. So that's the biggest thing, like I said, Markus Schulz is like a reflection of the audience, what I see, what I feel writing about that. And the Dakota is what I'm feeling inside.
Electric Vibes: Where does the name Dakota come from?
Markus Schulz: Actually from the street I lived on called, "North Dakota Drive." And I always liked the name Dakota so I used that for a few underground projects, more deeper projects and it just stuck. It built quite a little fan base with the Dakota sound.
Electric Vibes : What is the meaning of "Unicorn Slayer"? Where does it come from?
Markus Schulz: You know, people always say that trance is rainbows and unicorns. And then somebody tweeted, "If trance is rainbows and unicorns then Markus Schulz is the unicorn slayer." And I re-tweeted it and it just went viral from there. Next thing I knew people were showing up wearing unicorn masks and unicorn shirts and "Unicorn Slayer" shirts. So it just kind of like caught on all by itself.
Electric Vibes : That's awesome. Will new world punx be making a comeback?
Markus Schulz: Of course. For sure. Ferry and I, you know, we've been hanging around, hanging out and we're talking about what we wanna do. We're gonna do a track together later this year for sure.
Electric Vibes : What makes you love doing open to close sets so much?
Markus Schulz: Yeah, I think you know, when I started DJing, that's what I was doing. Open to close. I would go to the club, I had a residency. I would go at nine, ten o'clock at night, turn on the equipment, start DJing until everybody left and then turn off the equipment and go home. And I did this every Friday and Saturday night. As I started getting more popular I started touring and I'm doing short sets and more popular you get, the shorter your sets are getting. So the open to close for me is kind of like a throwback to how it all started for me, you know?
Electric Vibes : With trance changing so quickly, what can your fans expect next?
Markus Schulz: I'm working on my next album. It's gonna be called, "We Are the Light." And like the Dakota project was a really dark and kind of, introspective look but the new album, "We Are the Light" the title song for example is "We Are the Light The World Needs Right Now," so it's a more uplifting messages about you know, us and how we need to kind of, we need to be the light for the rest of the world and example. Because I think we are an example, when you see, you know people see these festivals and they you know, there's people from all over the world, all different countries, everything—we're all here. And we're a perfect example of what's possible in the world. When we're all unified with love.