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Markus Schulz: Global DJ in Ibiza

"When I think of summer, the very first word that pops into my head is Ibiza"

DJ, producer, record label founder, DJ host, unicorn slayer; when your CV reads like something your five year old self would be proud of, you know you've done pretty damn well at this whole life thing. So with these just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Markus Schulz's career achievements, it's no surprise that he can now count himself among the top DJs in the world, with countless accolades, a thriving fan base, and sell out shows at some of the biggest venues in the world.

But like many artists catapulted into stardom by PR teams seeing dollar signs, there's no question that Schulz's rise to the top has been through hard work and undeniable talent. Making his first steps into the industry whilst I was still in nappies, his first big break came back in 1993 with his remix of Sagat's Why Is It? (F** Dat) for FFrr, and the subsequent decades have seen him continue to carve a unique path between progressive trance and house, one that has been the foundation for many other DJ's careers that we know and love today.

Deep, dark trance aside; as the ever-so detailed list I opened with hinted at, Schulz is no one trick pony. In 2005, he founded the label Coldharbour Recordings, named after the road in South London where his then studio was located. The label - like its head honcho - has since gone from strength to strength, receiving recognition from the likes of DJ Mag and the IDMAs, and with releases now well into the triple figures. Other achievements under his belt include founding the Schulz Music Group (SMG), an artist management company which manages rising stars in the industry, and hosting his weekly radio show, Global DJ Broadcast, which after over a decade has come to be one of the most well respected and critically acclaimed radio shows in dance music. And if you thought all that would be enough to fill a man's time, he last year joined up with friend and fellow superstar Ferry Corsten, announcing their plans to produce and tour together as new EDM group New World Punx.

So now at the ever growing peak of his career, if you can't find Schulz at home in Florida, on stage at Madison Square Gardens, or entertaining his fans over the airwaves, one place you may find him is of course here in Ibiza. A regular behind the island's legendary decks for over a decade, this year saw him achieve a new benchmark in his career, landing a headline residency at Amnesia. Named after his new album, Schulz has been taking the reigns in the Main Room all summer long with Scream 2, bringing the likes of Paul Oakenfold, Omnia and Cosmic Gate to join him on the decks, as well as treating fans to his much loved all-night-long sets. A new feather in Amnesia's cap, the night - Amnesia Presents - (where over in the Terrace Like Mike and Dimitri Vegas take charge with their residency House Of Madness), has undoubtedly been one of season's surprise successes, with the winning pairing pulling in impressive crowds since it's opening back in July.

Tonight Schulz and the House Of Madness boys are back for one final night, with the Amnesia Presents Closing Party. It's set to be a big one, with a packed out line up in the terrace, as Chainsmokers, Thomas Gold, Deniz Koyu, Wolfpack and Yves V join Mike and Vegas to cover the EDM side of things, whilst our favourite mythical beast slayer Markus Schulz tees up for a mammoth seven hour set for you to feast your ears on. We caught up with Schulz before the party for the low down on the first season of Scream 2 and what else he's been up to:

So, first off, what made you decide to take your Scream 2 residency to Amnesia?

"Throughout my career, I have been privileged to play at some of the most iconic clubs and festivals around the world. But very few hold a special place in my heart quite like Amnesia in Ibiza. I have been lucky to hold an Ibiza club residency since 2004, but before this year, those residencies were in a supporting capacity. I had been part of the summer Amnesia line-ups until 2010; and spent the following three years between Space and Privilege, two great clubs in their own right. But when you spend many years falling in love with the vibe and ambiance that Amnesia is known worldwide for, you can't help but wish to go back."

"So to not only have the opportunity to play the role of hosting an entire room for a night, but to do it at an incredibly special venue like Amnesia, is a perfect alignment for me. Amnesia is always one of those clubs I say that people should experience at least once in their life - because of the history and uniqueness. Clubs like Stereo in Montreal, Avalon in Los Angeles, Space in Miami, Ministry of Sound in London all resonate in the same way as Amnesia."

Does the fact that you have an EDM party - House of Madness - in the room next door mean you approach your set any differently?

"It does, very much so. With nearly every other club, people go for what is on offer in the main room and that's it. But with the set-up at Amnesia, between the main room and the terrace, it means that you have two headlining parties competing simultaneously within the same complex - almost like a festival."

"Consequently, it gives the clubber a choice, meaning that if they don't like what they hear in one room, they can go to the other, and vice versa. Before the residency began this year, I was conscious about ensuring that the music in my sets would be energetic and upfront, because you can imagine if you have a track with a quiet, two minute long breakdown, and the audience can hear the roof being blown off next door, their attention will gravitate towards that."

What I have noticed too, especially after the first night of the residency, is just how much younger the clubbers are now. The change from last year to this has been quite drastic to be honest, so you have to be able to adapt. People who have been following my sets throughout the summer will have seen me introduce quite a few mash ups - taking the beautiful trance melodies and combining them with some harder edged drops. But I am still very conscious of my sets having their own identity, and the most important aspect undoubtedly remains the beautiful melodies."

You and Ferry Corsten have recently joined up to produce and tour together as New World Punx, is it very different making music with someone else - and do you prefer it?

"It is very different for sure, because you are not the only driver in the studio! Compromise is the key word. When we began to flesh out the New World Punx concept, the most important thing for both of us was that it wasn't going to be at the expense of our solo careers. We get so many requests for NWP gigs, but we want to restrict them to around 10-15 a year, because it means that the less often they occur, the more special they are for fans."

"It's one of the reasons why we have been hesitant to say that we would ever do a full New World Punx album, because we still want to produce albums under our own name. When we are producing together, they are all stress free situations, and what comes out of it is as a result of fun. If you started doing that in an album process, it could get incredibly stressful; and I would hate for the two of us to become frustrated at each other. You can't really put a price on the enjoyment I have when working with Ferry, because it doesn't happen every day."

So to sum it up, I love having the opportunity to collaborate, but I think it always should be as a compliment and not at the expense of what you do individually."

You've been broadcasting your radio show from Ibiza again this summer - tell us a bit about the idea behind Ibiza Summer Sessions - why Ibiza?

"When I think of summer, the very first word that always pops into my head is Ibiza, because in many ways, summer wouldn't be special without it."

"As my career has grown over the years, my tour schedule has become even more hectic, particularly during the summer when I am travelling to gigs in midweek. So I've tried to tailor my time towards being in Ibiza more, and taking advantage of the sunshine and the sights, because it's much easier to allow your body to decompress. And naturally enough, if I am in Ibiza for a day or two during the week, it means that my radio show work takes place from there."

"We started it quite a few years ago and the fans really took to it. The strand stands out because you will hear bonus live sets throughout the Ibiza season, this year highlighting the Amnesia residency; and also because of the much loved Sunrise Sets; where I spend months of preparation trying to craft a story that will resonate way beyond just one week of listening. Those sets are a soundtrack for those beautiful summer moments, where you spend time with your friends or loved ones sitting up all night and watching the sun come up. They are some of the proudest sets I have done, and I hope the fans collect them to create their own memories too."

What has been the highlight of the Amnesia Presents season so far for you?

"It has been an enormous undertaking and a career challenge, but I have loved every minute of it. I have loved the challenge of programming a night, combining the qualities of the guests along with my own, and hopefully being able to tell a good story from beginning to end. And even though the audience may have become much younger, the vibe at Amnesia cannot be replaced."

"If I had to pick just one highlight, it would be the open to close solo set in August. Many of you who follow me will know just how much I love doing those types of sets, but I haven't had the opportunity to do it in Ibiza since 2010. So to be able to bring that back to my Ibiza palette for the first time in four years was a very important and gratifying thing for me personally."

VIDEO | ​A flashback to thus track from Markus Schulz, filmed in Ibiza and Amnesia.

How much planning goes into a start to finish set like Sundays? Do you know roughly what you're going to play - or do you decide as you're going?

"There is a certain degree of planning like any gig really, but the key aspect of the DJing art is the ability to read a room, and react to what you see and feel. There are certain signature tracks that the fans expect and demand to hear, but the beauty of the solo sets is that you get to build everything else around those moments."

"If I were put in the shoes of a promoter for a night, I would program the line-up so there would be an opening DJ, a headlining DJ, and an after-hours DJ. So when I am presented with the task of being in entire control of a night musically, I tend to split the overall solo set into three - deep progressive warm up, the peak hour with all the hits and big moments, then the after-hours portion where we delve into the rabbit hole with some techno reconstructions and classics. Thinking of it like that means that the task of playing for a very long period of time doesn't feel as daunting. And for me I relish doing them, because it provides me the opportunity to explore every portion of my musical palette that I love and am passionate about."

"I love the rabbit hole part in particular. The intention is to take the focus off me and for the fans to start interacting with each other and become the party. The lights are deliberately dimmed lower and when you get into that moment, the party begins to crackle together and move together simultaneously. It's beautiful when it happens; and it's still able to happen but, it has to be a special night, a special club, a special DJ. And Amnesia is one of those special clubs."

So what can we expect from tonight's set?

"Well, it's the grand finale, so the aim will be to go out in style. So the hope will be to feature plenty of the tried and trusted tracks that have shaped the residency nights throughout the summer, and combine them with some brand new material which I am starting to feed into my sets for the rest of the year."

"I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone come out to the show, and in many ways, it is a thank you to them for all their support throughout the season. Being able to host a night at the iconic Amnesia is without doubt one of my proudest career achievements, and I couldn't have done it without the support of them. So when we get into the wee hours of the morning, along with the usual stuff, it will be fun to dig out a couple of classics and reminisce about Amnesia memories from years gone by."

"There is one track in particular I have been working on however, and I have deliberately been holding it back until the Amnesia closing night to make a grand début. It will be a beautiful way to say goodbye to summer, and begin to embrace the winter."

WORDS | Joanna Wright

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