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S1-E12: Markus Schulz

Markus Schulz is a German-American DJ and music producer based in Miami, Florida. Best known for his weekly radio show titled “Global DJ Broadcast” that airs on Digitally Imported radio, After Hours FM and other online stations, Schulz is also the founder of the label Coldharbour Recordings and Schulz Music Group (SMG), an artist management company that manages rising stars in the industry. In September 2012, Schulz was crowned America’s Number 1 DJ by DJ Times.

Markus Schulz:
I’ve achieved more than I ever dreamed of. When I was growing up, I was just like, Hey, I heard about this DJ Mag Top 100. And I was like, Ooh, one day, if I was just at number 99, just so I can tell my kids, yeah, I was in the DJ Mag Top 101. That was like my goal. And to achieve what I’ve achieved is beyond anything I could’ve ever imagined. So the next thing for me is to help other people achieve their dreams. Hi, this is Marcus Schulz.

Markus Schulz:
That’s all I’m looking forward to doing now, is inspiring the next generation. I’ve achieved more than I could ever imagine. And now I want to help other people achieve their dreams. So if you’re out there listening and you’ve got dreams of being a DJ or a producer, don’t let anybody tell you, no. Don’t let anything stop you. Find people that have the same mentality and just go for it. Have fun because there’s nothing more amazing than the feeling that you get when you play your music in front of 20, 30, 40,000 people, and hearing them absolutely go crazy. It is an absolute rush.

Markus Schulz:
So, I’ll tell you something. When I first started coming up, I was really intimidated by Chicago because Chicago is the birthplace of house music. And I remember listening to all the old Chicago guys, Julian “Jumpin” Perez, Mickey Oliver, Bad Boy Bill. You know what I mean? I used to listen to all mix tapes from all these guys. So when I first started coming up and I started getting booked in Chicago, I was like, what the heck am I going to do? I mean, these guys are … this is their city. I can’t go to Chicago, so I was really intimidated. But I’ve grown to really have a great bond with the fans in Chicago. And I love the city and been here many times and have some wonderful memories. So I’m looking forward to coming back and making some more memories.

Dylan:
What’s up with you being the unicorn slayer?

Markus Schulz:
It’s funny. Yeah. It has a couple of different meanings, but the main one is everybody’s in the past that said trance is like rainbows and unicorns. And I saw that and I retweeted it. And actually they said trance is like rainbows and unicorns, but Marcus Schulz is the unicorn player. So I retweeted that and the fans picked up on that. Next thing I know, saw people showing up at shows with unicorn [inaudible 00:02:44] them apart and T-shirts with Unicorn Slayer on it. Yeah, it just took on a life of its own. It’s strange how that happened overnight, but it’s cool, especially seeing all the unicorns out in the audience at my shows. The funniest thing was when I actually … this is no joke. I actually got a letter from PETA and they were not happy about the fact that I was endorsing the slaying of a fictional animal.

Dylan:
You have thousands of fans worldwide, and let’s back up for a minute. How did your story happen? Can you explain the evolution of how you got to being called the Unicorn Slayer and having the Schulz Army?

Markus Schulz:
Well, you know what? It was a long journey. My father was a musician, so music was always around me. But I started off an early interest in music making these mix tapes with the pause button on the cassette tapes then and everything. And from there, I had my first show and got discovered by the local club. And I just climbed my way up. I started off as a resident DJ, just like all the other resident DJs that are out there playing in every hole in the wall, a pub and bar and everything. I started off just like that. I was just very lucky that I had a very unique and eclectic taste in music.

Markus Schulz:
And then eventually I started producing this eclectic brand of trance music, a little darker trance music. And I think from that, it just blew up internationally. I mean, at the time when I was coming up, everybody was doing uplifting, really euphoric, rainbows and unicorns trance. And I’ve always been influenced by Pink Floyd and stuff like that. So I went in that direction, and I was just lucky to kind of zig when everybody else was zagging.

Luis:
How about Cold Harbor Recordings? How did that come about and what inspired you to keep that going?

Markus Schulz:
Yeah. I moved to London. Yeah, just at the turn of the millennium, I moved to London to … It was a pilgrimage for me to find out who I was as an artist. And I had a studio under the railroad tracks in Brixton. It’s a crazy part of town. And the name of the street was Coldharbour Lane. Everything I was doing at that time, I was releasing as Coldharbour remix, Coldharbour this, whatever. I started branding the ColdHarbour name. And then I was fortunate enough to have some underground hits and the Coldharbour name stuck. And at one point, I just said, okay, that’s going to be the name of my label. And the label started off just a few tracks that had the same kind of vibe. And it has grown to be one of the biggest trance labels in the world. And I just credit all the amazing artists that I’m lucky enough to work with for making that happen.

Luis:
Yeah. I mean, that’s got to be pretty special. It’s like you’re the father watching your kids grow up. All of your artists on your roster, they’re doing their own shows now. It must be pretty special watching them grow as well.

Markus Schulz:
What’s great too is we do these ColdHarbour Nights all around the world, where I put three or four of the artists together and stick them on tour, and it’s just been a huge success. We’ve done Coldharbour Nights, Australia, in Asia, Europe, all over USA. It’s fantastic just to see a family that the label has become and just to watch the family go out on tour together and sell out these places. Like I said, I’m really respectful of my artists.

Dylan:
Man, you’ve toured and you’ve been everywhere. You’ve done every show there. Is there a favorite?

Markus Schulz:
Well, you know what? I always loved playing in the USA, whether it’s EDC or Old Truck. Those are always fun to play because it’s a lot of like-minded people, but at the same time … Something about going to Europe and then just taking the energy and taking what I produced for the American fans, and taking it to Europe and then seeing their eyes as I drop some of these new tracks or whatever, it’s pretty special too. I mean, I honestly can say that I’m a citizen of the world because I do spend about 200 days a year in a hotel, all over the world. So I don’t really have a permanent address.

Dylan:
We were talking with Armand van Buuren. He is all about Ibiza. And being a trance DJ, has that island affected you? I mean, have you had a special experience there?

Markus Schulz:
Yeah, of course. We’ve all had those special Ibiza moments. But I think that the beautiful thing is you just go there and you play a show, but you stay there all week long. And then you hang out with other artists. And you don’t necessarily hang out in the studio or anything, but you just bond with people. And the festivals have taken the place of those because now we’re all doing the same festivals, and we’re all jumping from each other’s trailers and just partying backstage. So the festivals has that energy now, but Ibiza, in the early days, it was the place where you met everybody. But I got to tell you, what’s really blowing up right now is Croatia. That’s where the secret place where all the clubbers in Europe are going now. It’s like ever since Paris Hilton took over in Ibiza, everybody else has been running the Croatia.

Dylan:
All right. So you toured with Ferry Corsten. What about the other people in the EDM world? You’ve made any friends while you’re on tour?

Markus Schulz:
Well, I mean, Ferry is my best friend in the music industry. So when we get together, it is pretty chaotic. But I mean, there’s so many artists that you spend months and months on tour with, especially when you go and you do these Australian and Asian tours. I mean, people that you really wouldn’t expect, I’ve become friends with. Richie Hawtin has become a good friend, and he’s completely on the different wavelength. You know what I mean?

Dylan:
Yeah.

Markus Schulz:
Even Steve Aoki, I get along with and hang out with. I mean, it’s funny because Ferry and I are best friends and we do the same kind of music, so we have that bond. But there’s many DJs that I’m really, really good friends with that play complete opposite type of music than me. We’re just good friends and music is secondary when it comes to that friendship.

Luis:
Now, I got to ask you, what was running through your mind when you got the call, when Paul van Dyk was injured and you asked to replace him onstage?

Markus Schulz:
That was crazy, because I had just started my open and closed set in Los Angeles. And it was a nine o’clock, we’re doors opened. By six o’clock in the morning, I was just finishing up and they were like, yeah, you’re going to have to go to Mexico City and fill in. So you have two hours to get to the airport and go, and I’d been playing for eight, 10 hours, whatever. So that part was hard. But what was the absolute hardest was the fact that my girlfriend is really good friends with all van Dyk’s girlfriends. And Paul van Dyk’s girlfriend was in Los Angeles at the time as well when the accident happened. And they were on the phone with each other backstage talking, trying to find details, trying to sort her out so she can get out to Europe. And you just felt the hopelessness in the air.

Markus Schulz:
I mean, I’ve known Paul for, gosh, 15 years, and shared the stage with him for 15 years. And it was just so difficult. And I tell you, the first thing that I did when I saw him backstage at EDC is I just hugged him and I held onto him. And I was like, man, just so grateful to just hold him because it was really, really scary.

Dylan:
Watch the World album, which you say has allowed you to share personal stories more than ever before. Is that just because it is an artist album or …?

Markus Schulz:
When I was young, I used to do a lot of creative writing. And then I started getting into music and my creative brain went to twiddling with knobs and making melodies and sounds and stuff. I would make a track and I would send it to a singer and a songwriter, and they would like write something on top of my [inaudible 00:11:36] Okay, call it day. There you go. There’s the song. But with this album, I just felt like I’d done so much, and I wanted to get back to having the messages in my music be something that connects me and the fans. So, the first track was Destiny. I wrote that about my personal relationship with my girlfriend and it was received incredibly well. And it just gave me confidence to go into the studio with each one of these singers, each one of these songwriters and say, here’s what I want to write about. And all the songs on the Watch the World album are songs that connect me with the audience, me with my fans. It’s not just empty lyrics about walking down the street, whatever, blah, blah, blah. It’s lyrics that really connect us as a community.

Dylan:
What else is going? I mean, you’ve been to Chicago a lot of times, when you get to the Chi, but what else do you do? You’re looking forward to doing something while you’re here besides soundbar?

Markus Schulz:
Oh, man. When the club closes and running down to the Wiener Circle, that’s probably one of my best memories. That’s a tradition. If the fans want pictures and autographs, you can find me after each show at the Wiener Circle, so yeah. One time, we invaded the Wiener circle after a show at Capitol. There was probably 50 to 100 of us all crammed into that little place and lined up outside. And we were driving the girls in there crazy

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