Markus Schulz, the winner of 2012's America's Best DJ will be making a return appearance to Scottsdale, his old stomping grounds, on May 10 at The Venue. After residing for some time in Arizona as a resident DJ, Schulz plans to bring the party back home for his North American Scream bus tour.
Lots of DJs have stories worth telling, but not many begin in a breakdance crew. Up On The Sun spoke with Markus Schulz about that, his rise in the U.S., and how Scottsdale still holds a big place in his heart.
Up On The Sun: I understand Germany had a huge breakdance scene back in the day, and lots of people transitioned into EDM from it. I've heard you got into the scene that way, is that true?
Markus Schulz: Oh, it's just those kinds of people. You know what the funny thing is as a break-dancer--[while] making my mix-tape and mix-tapes for my crew, I started DJing in nightclubs, because one of the club managers heard me playing at one of the numerous breakdance parties.
So he liked it and had me come into the club. Playing at the club, I started to play Top 40 music, and from the Top 40 music I starting getting tired and burnt out. Then I started playing in gay clubs, and from there I was discovered and started playing at raves. That kind of evolved to where it is now.
I mean it wasn't like when I was playing at break dance parties I was thinking, like, "Oh, this is my goal. This is what I want to play." Everything just kind of evolved. It's like I got bored of one thing and graduated to the next.
That's awesome; do you think you'll ever bust out and breakdance during your set?
[Laughs] That would be funny.
Take it into consideration [laughs]. I know you currently reside in Miami... when did you decide to head out there? It's a great scene for EDM, of course.
After the jump: "I don't know what it is about Arizona, but it seems like the scene grows, grows, and grows, and it's amazing, and then everyone that made the scene happen moves on to another big city."
Yeah, I moved at the beginning of the millennium. I first moved to London and spent a couple of years there. I wanted to go back to the U.S., since I had lived there previously. But mainly I wanted someplace warm, a place on the east coast, and somewhere with a great airport, because at that time I had a lot of reasons to head back and forth between Europe and the U.S. I remembered all the fun times I had during the winter music conference, and I just kind of decided that I was gonna put the Markus Schulz flag down right here. There was really no other reason than that.
It probably made Ultra a lot easier on you.
It's amazing when you live in a city like Miami; there's just so much going on. That being said, I'm on the road probably 200 days a year.
About being on the road: You were America's Best DJ for 2012, and the rules say the same DJ cannot win two years in a row. But if that rule didn't exist, 2013 would be up for grabs. Do you consider the North American Scream tour as a kind of victory lap?
You know, I never really put too much emphasis on the polls. I feel that it's really the fans' voice. You can start marketing towards certain things if you take [the polls] so seriously, and that just doesn't feel sincere.
I just believe that one should go out, it doesn't matter if you are in New York City or Tucson, Arizona ... you put on the best show, and if the fans support you then they're gonna support you. So for me it's more than a victory lap--it's more like I have an opportunity to go and make the fans that support me happy.
For me it's not an arrogant thing... where I'm like, "Yeah, I'm gonna go take some pictures now." No, for me it's definitely feels like my mindset is, "Now I need to go on this tour and thank everybody, personally and in their cities."
The whole idea of the tour is that a lot of these fans travel to come see me. Like in Vegas, LA and New York or come see me at these huge events. But with this bus tour the philosophy was to make and create this production and take it to them. So it comes to their cities. The bus tour is most certainly a thank you for sure.
I mean, I can vouch and say that sometimes it's hard to always have a plentiful supply of electronic artists within the Phoenix area. Unless people are on tour and happen to mark Arizona on the list, or it's Coachella time and artists make quick trips to Phoenix since it's just one state away, the EDM supply isn't nearly as abundant as in Vegas, Miami or Los Angeles. But you happened to live in the Scottsdale area for a bit of your time as a DJ, correct?
Yeah, I lived in Arizona for a long time. So for me, any time I come to Arizona it's like a homecoming. I do feel a bit nostalgic when I'm there, but also it saddens me. I don't know what it is about Arizona, but it seems like the scene grows, grows, and grows, and it's amazing, and then everyone that made the scene happen moves on to another big city.
After the jump: "There are still people coming up to me in all parts of the world that say, "I used to go to The Works and listen to you every Friday and Saturday."
Then it goes through another reverb, or something. It's almost like it's on a five-year cycle. Every five years it's amazing, and then people leave and it just kind of rebuilds itself again. I hope that we're on an upswing again in Phoenix again. Phoenix is one of those special places in my heart, because I lived there for so long. I have so many friends there and so many nostalgic memories.
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Scottsdale used to be one of your old stomping grounds, and now you're coming back.
Yeah. I was actually DJing at a gay club in Scottsdale, and then another club opened up called The Works. It was like a combination of raves and the gay scene. At the time there was this really eclectic, cool mix. I played there for seven years. That was my residency. I played there when the doors first opened, and on the closing night, and every night in between.
There are still people coming up to me in all parts of the world that say, "I used to go to The Works and listen to you every Friday and Saturday." There is a big community of people spread out all over the world from those days, and it's awesome.
The cool thing about this tour coming to Scottsdale... One of the things I wanted to do was to take the big city and festival experience and bring it to places that don't normally get to see such a higher level of production. And when it came down to supporting acts, I chose The M Machine specifically. The reason I chose them was because they do an audiovisual show. Their music is really eclectic and cool. I wanted to bring on tour someone that could complement the production that we are doing. Scottsdale is definitely one of those show that I have circle on my calendar. And I really want to bring something to my former home that people have never seen before.