Interview with Markus Schulz (2011)
A couple of weeks ago we sat down with Markus Schulz to discuss the new compilation Prague 11 which just been announced. This is what Tim Stark found out when talking to Markus Schulz.
So Markus, first inevitable question, why Prague?
Well, first up, any city that becomes one of the compilations in the series has to have fully inspired me. I’m not just talking about having had an amazing time there, or ‘being blown away by one aspect or the other’, but something deeper-than. I’ve played Prague twice a year, every year for the last 5. To witness the path it’s taken collectively with the type of music I play has been just that - inspirational.
In what respect specifically?
Many, but I suppose, if you had to sum it up in one word, evolution. Not just in how the dance population have embraced the music, but of its rise on all fronts. The clubs, events and festivals that have sprung up around it and the frequency with which really awesome, world-beating event productions are pulled off by the promoters over there.
Also the way you’re welcomed in the city - to see and feel all that has been intense. I don't use that word lightly either - I feel a special connection with the people who come to Prague to party. Looking at it honestly, this album is probably at least a year overdue!
You’ve said previously that Prague is just one example of that rise though.
Oh, that’s absolutely correct. Prague is just my example – the one I chose. It wasn’t necessarily an easy choice. Choosing where to locate the city albums rarely is! Prague though is a ‘destination city’, in the same way as Las Vegas and Amsterdam are. You just get such an influx of people coming into the city to club; naturally from the Czech Republic, but further afield too, Germany, Hungary and numerous other places.
In many respects though it represents just one example of what’s happened, and has been happening across Central and Eastern Europe since 2006. Every time I’ve gone back to a dozen or so cities across the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic States, I think the scene can’t have got any bigger/better and boom, it always has!!
What to you are the major benefits of that?
Biggest benefit to me is being able to play longer and take people to different places, musically.
So you want to change what you play?
By degrees, sure, but then so does most every DJ. Year to year we’re all tweaking our sound, only generally by fractions, but we’re all at it. Taking in new influences, adjusting it with new technologies and certainly I want to forge ahead and be able to introduce those new sounds and style aspects to broadminded audiences – its what keeps things fresh. In Eastern Europe, as a whole, they’ve proved as accepting of that as anyone.
So how do you feel the sound of Prague’11 is different from say Las Vegas’10?
You know what, I’d say: two different cities, two different music selections… Not the best measure of comparison!
Ok, so more broadly then, how would you describe the music on this one?
For once I’d actually align it most closely with my last artist album, ‘Do You Dream?’, rather than say another compilation. In as much as there is a real old cross-section of music on there. You’ve got real funky stuff, and I mean proper hard grooving music like Space Rockerz ‘Get Down City’ and Eelke Klejn’s 'Monkey Movin’. Deeper progressive material, of course, and really impossible to classify music too, like Basil O’Glue’s mix of Mike Saint-Jules ‘Crossing Planets’. Man, I’m not at all sure what type of dance music that is!
You’ve done a couple of tracks in disguise yourself for the album too (under the Mikulas name), haven’t you?
I did the intro tracks for the two discs – kind of in-key scene-setters really. It would be really easy for me to be talking up Prague’11 off the back of Prague the physical city itself. It is an amazing place and I love spending time there when I’m not on the decks. But there is so much more to the album than that. With these tracks I did let myself slip into a bit of a ‘Prague the City’ frame of mind though, letting some of that tone and atmosphere seep its way into the ‘50.05°N, 14.28°E’ and ‘Praha’ tracks. Mikulas was the designer of this incredible clock tower that sits in the centre of the old town. Google image it while you’re listening to the intros; I think you’ll get an immediate idea of the atmosphere I was looking to create!
One impression you're left with after first listen was that it didn’t hold back on the tough stuff.
I think, in terms of the music, that’s the most direct, obvious reflection of Prague and Central and Eastern European clubbing. As I said they like it across the board, they’re open-minded, but they do love those harder, angular sounds and thundery bass, so I made sure there was plenty of it on there!
Like Turbulence, yes. Klauss Goulart has a big track on his hands there. Also though Skytech’s ‘Sirens’, Snatt & Vix ‘Warp Drive’, P.A.F.F. ‘Conductor of Death’ – all those type of sounds, really well judged tougher-edged gear. I think you can kind of tell by the titles what's in store!
You chose an unusual way to announce Prague11 - tell us about that?
Yes, well that's actually a bit of a blur to me, even now - one of those 'just sorta happened’, unplanned things. I was reaching the end of my Transmission set (major annual arena trance event held every November in Prague) and the idea had been to just soft launch it there, low-key, handout a few posters at the end. One of the cameras swung towards me, I had a poster by the side of the CDJ so I just held it up, and there was this almighty roar. I hadn't realized that it was shooting the picture right up, 40 or 50ft, floor-to-roof on the video-wall behind me. It was a kind of a (very) happy accident… and a crowd response I’ll never forget!
You’re just about to return to Prague to play the launch night too? Taking the music to the people, so to speak.
I am, and looking forward to it immensely – I’m anticipating something completely off the hook! It'll be the point at which a lot of the music that’s been kept back comes out of the CD wallet and through the club speakers for (almost) the first time. I'm playing a special extended set, with Wippenberg supporting me at SaSaZu, which is this incredible club in the centre of the city. Kind of Prague's Ministry of Sound; there is no better place to launch the album!
So where do you see the City compilations going next?
At this point every year I always have 2 or 3 ideas in mind. Naturally it’s sensible to have that. That way, as you travel around the globe DJing, you can really have it front and centre in your mind and keep that ‘inspiration radar’ highly tuned! In terms of specifics though, it’s a ‘wait and see’! :)