Biography of Markus Schulz
|Moniker(s) / ||Dakota, Himmel|
Over the last 10 years Markus Schulz has fused the individual musical identities of progressive, house & trance into his own creative, now inimitable hybrid sound.
Through a unique alignment of headlining DJ sets, Armada and Coldharbour label output and his highly prominent Global DJ Broadcast radio show, he’s spearheaded a sea change revolution in the US trance scene. This success has been reflected in weekly sets played in front of many tens of thousands, a GDJB listenership up in the millions & one Beatport chart-topper after another.
Following several highly ranked positions, in 2008 Schulz broke into the Top 10 of DJ Mag’s Top 100 chart. He’s remained there for the last four straight years (polling #9 in 2011) and now stands as the busiest international DJ playing out of the United States.
Born in Eschwege, central Germany, Markus emigrated to the United States. Age 13, his dance music awakening came during the grip of the country’s then-nascent breakdance scene. His early production and DJ career roughly tracked that of the second Stateside House explosion and he caught his first production break in 1993 when he remixed Sagat’s ‘Why Is It? (F** Dat)’ for FFrr.
Markus’ freshman production release followed in 1994 with the 6-track ‘Plastik Trax EP Vol 1’. Throughout the mid to late Nineties he continued to accrue acclaim with a range of releases on numerous luminary U.S. labels. In 1998 he recorded ‘You Won’t See Me Cry’ for Plastik Records (his first label), which was picked up by the UK’s Eve Records and became his first non-domestic release.
Markus Schulz - The DJ:
Through his natural audience affinity, flawless key-mixing and innate tune selection, he has wowed crowds in every major metropolis. Schulz’s DJ career has run largely parallel to that of his productions.
In the early noughties, having concentrated on the hinterland between trance & progressive, he began to reach audiences further and further afield. In 2004 he was signed to the David Lewis Productions agency (home to the World’s No.1 DJ Armin van Buuren) and his career took another big step forward.
Now a regular fixture at the world’s biggest & most famous clubs, arenas and festivals, he lays down his unique trance-progressive vision on a weekly basis. In Europe, he’s smashed Trance Energy, Nature One, Dance Valley, Sunrise, Tomorrowland, Transmission & Pleasure Island; worked tent-pegs loose at Creamfields; gridlocked Global Gatherings all around the world and twice played all-night 8hr solo sets at Armada @ Amnesia in Ibiza. Stateside the colossal Ultra, Electric Daisy & Nocturnal Festivals have all felt Schulz pressure and yet further afield still he’s engineered floor uproar in China and Australia.
He has polled 4 consecutive years inside DJ Mag’s world’s top 10, ranked as world’s #2 in the Trance Addict, FTB & Trance Podium 2010 charts and won Best American DJ at the IDMAs in 2009.
Schulz’s sound notably came quickest to the ears of continental European DJs. Following the formation of the Armada group in 2005, Armin sought Markus out and asked him to start compiling tracks for a new vinyl series.
The Coldharbour Selections EPs launched in 2004 (with the first 5 releases coming out on the already established Electronic Elements label). In quick succession they began to sonically impact on dancefloors and within 12 months Coldharbour the label was born. Named after Markus’ then-production base in London’s Coldharbour Lane, its output immediately brought a new angle sound to Armada. It also became a lightning rod for a new generation of prog-inclined producers - setting in motion the careers of (amongst others) Santiago Nino, Rex Mundi, Mark Otten & Niklas Harding.
With 2005 under the spell of Coldharbour’s more sophisticated, minimal, but still melodic take on the prog-trance sound, Markus struck again with the first Coldharbour Sessions mix compilation. Such has been the success of the imprint that in 2007 it was joined by a sub-label, Coldharbour Red. This, in turn, was a launch pad for Marcus Schössow, tyDi, Glenn Morrison & Evol Waves and was the point of re-entry for early Schulz side-project, Dakota (*see section below).
In August 2010 Coldharbour celebrated its 100th release with Markus’ cover of Cass & Slide’s ‘Perception’. Seven years after its birth, Coldharbour stands at the top tier of the world’s trance & progressive labels.
M.S. Productions 2005 – 2009:
Perfectly intersecting the quality/quantity axis, Markus’ own productions have been fundamental of components in marshalling clubbers and music lovers to his sound.
Over the course of the last half-decade singles like ‘First Time’ & ‘Without You Near’ (2005), ‘Fly To Colors’, ‘Never Be The Same Again’ & ‘I Am’ (2007) ‘Perfect’ & ‘Cause You Know’ (2008) & most recently ‘The New World’ & ‘Do You Dream?’ have each played their vital part.
Markus is also a keen production collaborator. In 2005 he famously teamed up with likeminded producers Gabriel & Dresden and Departure for ‘Without You Near’, did the same with Andy Moor on ‘Daydream’ and most recently on ‘Goodbye’ with Max Graham. The impact of all the singles has been catalysed by his studio albums ‘Without You Near’ (2005), ‘Progression’ (2007).
M.S. Productions 2010 – 2011 - ‘Do You Dream’:
In February 2010, Schulz completed principle recording on his third long-player, ‘Do You Dream?’ The 16-track album was released on June the 15th in many key territories. Its release prompted Tilllate Magazine to say its “sonic explorations went into every conceivable angle” & that the album was “energetic” & “exhilarating”. DJ Mag said “it guides (the listener) through dreamy ambient, downbeat chords, fist-pumping prog, house and trance, as well as the odd skipping breakbeat” and went on to say “it’s hard to see why you won’t completely adore this”.
On April the 1st, 2011 the album’s remix edition was released. It included track remakes from heavyweights including Ferry Corsten, Cosmic Gate & Super8 & Tab as well as core Coldharbour artists like Tucandeo, Mr Pit and Mike Foyle. The remix edition was joined by Schulz’s first DVD release in May ‘11, which documented his ‘Do You Dream?’ world tour.
Markus Schulz presents Dakota:
Markus has only made rare use of pseudonyms throughout his career - seeing them only as valuable if they represented an outlet for something other than his ‘regular’ material. At the turn of the millennium he released 3 tracks (‘Swirl’, ‘Frozen’ & ‘Lost in Brixton’) under the Dakota alias.
Over time the tracks became first points of contact for many new fans.
In 2009 Schulz paid dues to that by resurrecting the guise, recalibrating its sound and directed his attentions to a whole album of material. ‘Thoughts Become Things’ was the result and it became a route diversion that branched out to embrace techno, house and other sub-genres.
It swelled both Schulz’s fanbase and the range of DJ support for his music. The album justified 7 single releases that have included particular fan-favourites ‘Chinook’, ‘Johnny the Fox’, ‘Koolhaus’ & ‘Mr Cappuccino’. Such was its success in July of 2011 he followed it up with the sequel – ‘Thoughts Become Things II’. Giving it their prized Album of the Month award, MIXMAG said “With ‘Thoughts II’ Schulz’s Dakota guise could be about to take centrestage”, while DJ Mag said it contained “lush riffs at a housier tempo” and was “epic stuff”. To date it has spawned 5 singles, ‘Sinners’, ‘Sleepwalkers’, Katowice’ and the AA ‘In A Green Valley’/’Saints’.
The Global DJ Broadcast show:
Now in its tenth year Schulz’s GDJB has continued to be a beacon for an always-growing throng of trance & progressive dance fans. Having begun life on Miami’s Party 93.1 station, it is now broadcast through DI.fm and Sirius/XM satellite, the Global DJ Broadcast site and over 50 other FM stations around the planet.
Based on a regular format, the first show of each month is a two hour long mix from one of Schulz’s rolling World Tour gigs - ones that have of late included Medellin, Columbia, St Petersberg, Russia & Amnesia in Ibiza. Subsequent shows in the month feature Markus mixing his broad-span pick of the current electronic dance music best for an hour (which includes the forum-voted Global Selection track of the week) followed by guest mixes from both established and up-and-coming DJs.
Markus Schulz - The City Albums:
Markus is also responsible for one of the longest running and most respected compilation album series in trance history.
Kicking off in 2005 in Miami, its city-hopping concept has subsequently landed in Ibiza in ’06, Amsterdam in ’08 & Toronto in ’09. In 2010 it homed in on Las Vegas (for an album that Mixmag said: “managed the rarity of living up to the hype” and “ranked as his best yet”) and in February 2011 it returned to Europe to focus on Prague.
Providing a microcosmic view of his sound, the albums have become cornerstones for fans CD & mp3 collections, with each new travelogue edition bringing in a fresh wave of supporters. Notably, the Amsterdam ’08 release was nominated for an IDMA award for Best Full Length DJ Mix (in the same year that Markus took home the trophy for Best American DJ).
Markus started his remix career in the early 90s with a 30-strong volley of high-profile reworks.
Over the course of the decade he re-tooled the production works of Euro dominators like The Real McCoy & Technotronic, house masters & divas including Armand van Helden & Liz Torres, legendary Nineties icons RuPaul, Bette Midler & Sandra Bernhard and fully-fledged A-listers like Madonna (on Love Don’t Live Here Anymore).
As the Millennium arrived he began to work on deeper, more intrinsically electronic dance fare... In 2000 he remixed trance innovator Pablo Gargano’s ‘Absolution’, PQM’s Renaissance classic ‘The Flying Song’ and Fatboy Slim’s ‘Sunset (Bird of Prey). Satisfied that he’d found the right dance strata to focus on Markus has gone on to rewire tracks by Oceanlab, Motorcycle, Dance 2 Trance, Cosmic Gate, Nalin & Kane, Kyau & Albert, John O’Callaghan, & Space Manoeuvres amongst many, many others.
Prepared by Tim Stark.