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Go BackWITHOUT YOU NEAR! Markus Schulz tells us all about his debut album... out now.

Posted: 29/12/05 18:33

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 Trance is a big sound, says Markus Schulz... It’s the kind of music tailor made for arenas and stadiums, these days just about the only venues that can accommodate the crowds turning up for the world’s biggest trance DJs: Paul Van Dyk, Tïesto, Armin Van Buuren and Schulz himself, ranking No. 21 in DJ Mag’s latest top-100 poll.

“Trance is festival music,” Schulz explains. “It’s like everybody loves mellow rock, but mellow rock isn’t for stadiums and festivals. House is like rock you hear in Starbucks or cafés. Everybody loves house, but it just doesn’t translate well to stadiums and festivals – you can’t just go nuts to it the way you can with trance. Trance is like the Metallica of dance music - it’s made for stadiums.”

Schulz is entertaining a rock-star status of his own within the world of dance music. He’s steadily risen through the poll’s ranks to become one of the world’s leading trance DJs and producers. While he acknowledges the controversy in how voting for almost anything is tallied, he says the DJ Mag poll’s as close a barometer as any as to how successful his musical formula truly is.

“I really work hard to give people a good club show, a good radio show and a good experience at a festival. I really try to plan and prepare with exclusive tracks and remixes. I want my sets to be special and something memorable.”

He’s leaving his latest impression on Without You Near, his debut artist album, available on CD as continuous mix. It’s out now on Armada Music and Ultra Records.

Trance is often characterized as uplifting party music and Schulz says he certainly hopes people come away with that feeling after listening to Without You Near.

However, his particular style of trance isn’t necessarily as anthem-oriented as some of his genre peers.
“I make more moody, dark music - stuff you feel. I know it sounds cliché, but I really want to take the audience on a journey with my sets. Gabriel & Dresden have more of an electro sound, Armin has more of an uplifting sound and I have a darker sound. But we’ve all really been pushing a much deeper sound in trance the past few years.”

Named for his experiences while touring, Schulz says Without You Near is about how he feels while travelling: going somewhere, playing a show and then back on the road again, meeting people all too briefly. The road to completing the album was a journey unto itself, he adds.
“Making that album what such an amazing experience for me. I wanted something that would move people emotionally. I just kept coming up with ideas and finding these amazing producers to work with and in the end I had 22 tracks. I had a feeling I wanted to convey, so I went for the 13 tracks that really conveyed that feeling.”

The Voice asked Markus to share his thoughts on the album’s highlights and how they came together:

 Clear Blue
This is a really special track for me. I did this one with a kid from Detroit called Elevation. He sent me a 30-second clip and we began working on this one together. It really touches people, who seem to love the melody. It was kind of the theme of 2004 for me.”

 First Time
Anita Kelsey has the most amazing voice and is an incredible writer.  We were able to really work together and find a common ground, a feeling that lent itself well to the album. This and ‘Travelling Light’ were the two projects I worked on with her. She really writes from the heart.”

 Without You Near (Coldharbour Mix)
A great weekend in San Francisco with the Departure guys and Gabriel & Dresden. Probably the most interesting time I’ve ever had working on a track. This mix sums up everything I think I wanted the album to be about - the feeling and all the emotion. I’m so proud of this one.”

 Once Again
Carrie Skipper is fantastically talented. It was a real honour to work with her on two tracks for the album - This and ‘Never Be The Same.’ There’s so much emotion and feeling in the lyrics. I know she’s going to be a huge artist in electronic dance music and I’m really proud to say I worked with her.”

 You Won’t See Me Cry 2005
I had to do this. This song means so much to me and so many other people. Deidre Radford is an amazing person. She has a unique sound to her voice that draws you in. I wish we could work together more, but she’s had a lot of health problems and has had to give up singing.”

 Red Eye To Miami
This is the track I wrote on the plane one night on the way home. It’s how I saw the night sky out the window - the clouds passing by, the tiny dots of lights and just the craving to be back home.”

I worked on this with Airwave - it was our second collaboration. I’ve always thought he’s one of the most talented producers around. We spent a hard week in the studio non-stop working on this one. Everyone thinks it’s named after a little town in Ireland, but actually my son Alex named it after a yacht he really likes that is docked not far from where we live.”

 Peaches and Cream
“Ha, this one really has a story behind it, but I’ll let Mike Burns tell you all about it. He wrote the lyrics about a girl we’ll just call Peaches - I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.”

 Without You Near
“This is what started the whole thing rolling. I had been working on several projects for the album, but when I got to this everything started coming together. After I finished ‘Without You Near’ I had a real feeling for where I wanted the album to go and what I wanted the listener to come away with - a journey, an emotional roller coaster.”

Currently in the midst of a move to Berlin, Schulz has called a variety of places home over the years, including numerous American cities. Having moved around so much, the one constant he’s seen the world over has been people united through music. He’s tried shaping that on the airwaves with the Global DJ Broadcast.
“The broadcast first signed on the air when I first got to Florida. I have four hours a week and I really wanted to do something special with that time. I took the sound that I carved out in my studio in London, and tried to make it powerful enough to be able to penetrate the listeners that were force fed an endless array of glow stick noises and sirens.”
That said, Schulz says he’s also been mindful about not playing a sound that’s so far underground that only he and other informed listeners can appreciate it. Once 93.1 finally went off the air, however, Markus says he’s taken some time off to consider where he wanted to next take the show.
“I think now with the show on DI.FM, I’m able to reach a larger audience. It is also now on in Turkey, Austria, Arizona, Malta and Cyprus. Soon, it will be on in Russia and France and several other stations have approached me about carrying the show. It has taken on a life of its own now.”

There’s no denying Schulz’s belief that music can indeed reach people, foster change and, perhaps, even bring about peace. Ask him about recent gigs in places like Tel Aviv, Israel and he’ll tell you about his continuing inspiration.
“The first time I went there, I had no idea how things really were. I only knew what I read and saw on the news. It really goes to show how the media can focus on the negative. To see Palestinians and Israelis dancing together and getting along, it just shows you that people want to live their lives and be happy.”

Words by Yuri Wuensch