If you don’t know about Markus Schulz, you don’t know dance music. Seriously. The no. 8 DJ in the world will make not one, but two stops in Vegas over the coming months, the first of which is at Moon this Sunday where Gillette will also be filming for a new commercial. The Weekly chatted with the German trance guru about his new album, the dance music genre debate and the hottest tracks of this summer.
You play giant festivals regularly, but how does your set differ when you spin in a more intimate setting such as Moon?
I love playing more intimate settings, because that’s where I can really interact with the fans. I miss the more intimate venues. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the festivals, but to have a gig in the middle of the summer in a nice, intimate club like that is really cool.
Moon is atop the Palms on the 53rd floor, but you’ve admitted you’re afraid of heights. Will that be a problem?
As long as I’m not hanging off the edge! Some of these big festivals, they have the stages up on these huge scaffolds, and sometimes it’s a little bit too much.
You released the Thoughts Become Things album in June under the alias Dakota. How do those productions differ from Markus Schulz productions?
Actually, I wasn’t even trying to make an album. I just wanted to make some tracks for me to play this summer at the festivals, in the clubs and especially in Ibiza, where I have a residency. A lot of these tracks are just deeper and darker and there’s no vocals at all. It’s just banging club music. I thought that if I put this out under Markus Schulz, people might get confused or they might expect a certain sound.
When do you think will we hear another Markus Schulz artist album?
I’m actually working on that now. As soon as I finished the Dakota album, I just kept right on going and started working with some vocalists. My goal is to have it done maybe for next summer.
It seems like when you put out productions under Markus Schulz, you’re able to keep the progressive side of your music from being too monotonous, but the trance from being to cheesy. Is that a conscious decision?
That’s where my head is at. I’m inspired by so many different types of music, from the really dramatic classic rock of Pink Floyd, all the way to some of the early house music from when I first started spinning. I don’t think there’s any other trance DJ out there that can say that they were inspired by Larry Levan’s [1979 set Live] at the Paradise Garage and Danny Tenaglia. So because I have different people that have inspired me, my sound is a lot different. It’s not a conscious thing, it’s just who I am and what I draw my inspiration from.
You referred to yourself as a trance DJ, but many producers we’ve spoken with prefer to call their music simply “electronic” or “dance.” On the other hand, some people, specifically fans, get pissy when it comes to labeling genres. What’s your view on all the categories and how much do the sub-genres matter?
You know what? For the niche fans, for the really hardcore clubbers, the labels—they like to know what they’re getting when they go out… At the same time, the soul of it all comes from Kraftwerk and all that stuff back in the very early days. I think that’s just the nature of the industry now. Everything is kind of niche and you learn to deal with it. It doesn’t bother me.
Trance has kind of taken a beating as far as reputation with some of the cheesiness that’s been out there. I don’t have any problems being labeled a trance DJ because I think that most people understand. Most people realize very quickly when they come to hear me play that I’m not your big brother’s trance DJ.
What’s your favorite track and favorite producer right now?
Barnes & Heatcliff. Anything that they’re doing right now is absolutely on fire. They’re amazing producers. Those are my producers of the summer. My track of the summer would have to be “Nothing at All” by Rex Mundi featuring Susana. That track is just massive, and we haven’t even released it yet. It’ll be released in a couple of weeks finally.
You’ll be back in Vegas September 6 at Rain. Why should fans check out both shows?
Over the summer I’m developing and testing new tracks from my artist album that I’m working on, so they definitely should come to both shows because some of these tracks I’m going to test out and once I know that they work, I’m going to put them in the safe and I’m not going to be playing them. It’s a good chance to get a sneak peek of the projects that I’m working on for next year.