You don’t know Markus: a candid chat with America’s Best DJ
Wed, Oct 3, 2012 (1:02 p.m.)
On October 7, DJ Times’ America’s Best DJ winner Markus Schulz receives his gold-plated Pioneer mixer at Marquee (with A-Trak, doors at 10 p.m., free entry). Sarah Gianetto caught up with Schulz online to talk trance, Scream and dancing moms.
Sarah: Guten something. You’re in Berlin, yeah?
Markus: Yep. I am just here at my apartment in Berlin on a quick stopover. Just finished the Ibiza season last week, and have been touring Russia since then. Now, I wash some clothes, catch up on some work, rest, then onto Asia … I come from Asia right to Las Vegas, so I may need to borrow someone’s washing machine there.
Sarah: Are you doing your own laundry?
Markus: Yes! My own laundry. But it’s easy, I have one of those wash machines that washes and then automatically dries the clothes, so it’s not too hard for me.
Markus: Also, I am heading into the studio today to lay the groundwork for the collaboration I am doing with Armin [van Buuren]. We are collab’ing on the ASOT 600 theme.
Sarah: What is ASOT 600? Sounds like a video game console.
Markus: A State of Trance. It’s the 600-episode celebration coming up early next year. We usually do a tour and broadcast it live. You will be able to hear it on Sirius. It’s every 50 episodes or once a year. It’s huge in the trance world.
Sarah: Someone commented the other day that I’m a “trance girl,” and I’m like, what? I think it’s great; I just don’t get people’s crazy passion about one genre. And plus, I barely consider what you play as trance anymore. It’s more versatile, I think. More accessible.
Markus: Yeah, that’s the one thing that has happened with so many different EDM artists; people have kinda found their niche and stayed within it. I have always enjoyed the journey of a night, so I like to take people from one place to another. That’s not to say that I don’t have my own sound … but I like to start at one place and end in another.
Sarah: It’s nice that there are still DJs around who get into the programming aspect.
Markus: I think programming is where the art is.
Sarah: What do you have going on after you leave Vegas?
Markus: Checking my schedule ... Albuquerque, Scottsdale, then Mansion in Miami. I just released my new album, Scream, so I am working on A&R remixes for the tracks, as well as working on different versions of the tracks to play in my live sets. I think Scream is my most diverse album to date. There are a total of 23 tracks: 12 vocal and 11 instrumental. Something for everyone. The great thing is that I made each track with the intention of playing them in my live sets, so it is a really bangin’ album.
Sarah: Very nice. That’s a lot of tracks!
Markus: Yeah, I usually make at least 20 tracks and then choose the best 14, and that is my album. But with this project—with digital downloads— you really are not limited, and we were having big fights amongst the team on which songs to not cut out, so I just decided to release them all.
Sarah: Did you decide on that as the album title/cover to justify your millions of photos making that face?
Markus: The scream face … It was the working title at the beginning. I was envisioning an album that sounded like it was screaming from the top of a mountain, so I wrote “scream” on the white erase board and I think it just stuck.
Sarah: Well, now every photo is an ad for it.
Markus: Yeah, and people send me pics of their pets, kids, parents, etc., making scream faces.
Sarah:What are some things people don’t know about you?
Markus: My father was also a DJ. I love playing basketball and baseball. I used to be a breakdancer. I once did a remix for RuPaul. I am afraid of heights.
Sarah: Now my old interview with you for AZ-Raves is coming back to me. I announced those things like two decades ago!
Markus: Yeah, but this is a new group of readers. Most of them probably don’t even know who GalXyGrl is … by the way, I watched My Super Ex-Girlfriend last night and I was laughing and thinking of you when the superhero’s name was G-Girl.
Sarah: I’m replacing RuPaul with that. A release isn’t a secret. And, it’s hard to write about stuff people don’t know about you that isn’t 1. blackmail material, or 2. on your Twitter feed.
Markus: No, I got home yesterday and I’ve been off the grid since. So anything from the last 24 hours is okay ... My parents are coming to Vegas, too. My mother has only been to one gig of mine, which was my birthday party at Space last year, and she loved it. We arranged a car to take her back at 2 a.m., and she refused to leave. They had to find her on the dance floor.
Sarah: Haha! That’s replacing No. 2.
Markus: Okay … Oh, if you want a good one ...
Sarah: Give it to me.
Markus: My mother and father met in a club. He was a drummer in a band. They hung out after, and nine months later I was born. Papa was a rolling stone and mamma was a groupie.
Sarah: Whoa. So when was he a DJ?
Markus: After the band broke up. Two of the members of the band went on to form Scorpions. True story.
Markus: I never knew about this until I reunited with my father five years ago. My mother and father split up when I was young. My stepfather was 30 years in the U.S. Army, so he was a disciplinarian. From him I learned responsibility and discipline. I would not be where I am without him.
Sarah: Well, considering that you also make bad decisions, I’d say you got something from both dads!
Markus: My real father is kind of a free spirit. So, I got the artist gene from my real father and was taught to be responsible from my stepfather. I also found out I have two brothers. One is a photographer and graphic designer, and the other has just started a DJ agency in Germany. So both are artistic, as well.
Sarah: That’s really cool how much it runs in the blood.
Markus: Yeah, indeed. I never knew any of this when I was in Arizona, so I did not know who I really was. I think had I known this back then, I would have had more confidence. If you remember, I was always very shy for the most part.
Sarah: I know. And then you “left Arizona and became a butterfly.”
Markus: Yes. I think sometimes you have to leave the place where people view you in one way, so that you can blossom into the person you are supposed to be.
Sarah: Did you get any traits from your mom? Or is she going to think she’s chopped liver?
Markus: I got my blue eyes from her and I think I got my dancing skills from her. She used to rock it on the dance floor.
Sarah:And apparently still does.
Markus: But even my mother’s side of the family is musical, so I think I got a good batch of genes.