Markus Schulz takes you through the new Dakota album
Over the last six weeks or so, while Markus has been up in the sky on his travels, he's been jotting down the thoughts and inspirations behind his new Dakota album. Read on to find out what he feels about each track of Thoughts Become Things II.
1. Gypsy Room
"The CD starts with a nice gentle pace of 126bpm, and is one that certainly possesses those quintessential Coldharbour qualities. I'm a bit of a geek when it comes to creating soundscape-like intros for my albums and compilations, and it's no different especially when it comes to Gypsy Room.
Normally my Dakota project emphasises on instrumental material, but after listening through some early versions of the track, I felt that it could do with some harmonies in the background sweeping through themelody and bassline. So I recruited the assistance of a familiar voice from the Do You Dream album, one Angelique Bergere. She delivered some beautiful and lush input into the track and gave the end product another dimension. I debuted the track during the final night of Miami Music Week as my opener in Space, and it hasn't looked back since. And after reading all the reactions recently, it is already a massive fan favorite on Global DJ Broadcast".
2. Red Star
"This was actually the final track I worked on for the album, but it moved up the playing order since it transitions nicely out of Gypsy Room. I was on tour to Russia in March, and before the craziness started I visited the Molino Air Museum to see the M12 helicopter. The country boasts one of the most exciting and blossoming scenes anywhere across the globe, and I've been very lucky to have played big festival and arena events in cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg - the latter picking up the most popular GDJB World Tour in 2009.
I had an extra day in Moscow before flying back to Miami for Winter Music Conference and couldn't sleep due to my mind running a million miles after the latest batch of gigs in the country, so I started laying down a new melody. The first few drafts sounded very much like my big room reconstruction of Caress 2 Impress form Prague '11, so after reassessing a few times I made the lead a bit more melodic and varied the bassline after the break. By the time the second set of Space gigs happened at the end of March, I knew I had gotten it right. Hopefully it's one the Russian fans in particular will enjoy, I guess you could say it's my Airwolf theme, only I'm imagining flying in the M12".
"The track that probably best describes my full-on and ruthless unicorn slayer mode in 2011. Between October and February I continually developed a prototype and studied the reactions of the audience very carefully after testing it out in the clubs, before going back into the studio during the week and making modifications. It took me a long time to get the build of the track right, but in the end I think it was worth the wait.
I got the track ready to go around the end of January, but deliberately held it back until the Prague '11 release party at SaSaZu on February 12th. It was a massive night for me personally since we sold out the venue and continued my very special connection with the Prague fans, but even more special because of the moment Sleepwalkers was debuted. I could not have imagined the reactions and response that it caused, and still get amazed by it in the clubs today. Not even 12 hours had passed after the Prague gig and it went viral on YouTube, with all the clever fans figuring out what it was right away. It's relentless right up until the hypnotic break, which I've described in interviews as the "cigarette after sex" feeling".
4. I'm Where it Went Wrong
"Around October last year when the results of the annual DJ Mag Top 100 poll were being published, there was someone out there who decided to make a compilation video to spread on YouTube, entitled "Where Trance Went Wrong". And strangely enough, the creator of the video decided to cast me in a starring role. I wasn't in the best of moods after seeing it and taking stock of the state of the trance scene at the time, so I went into the studio with the intention of making something very dark and angry.
It's one of those tracks on the album that you can't fully appreciate if you only hear it through headphones at home. It's made to blossom on the big soundsystems in the clubs. There's no melody involved, just a cool techno vibe going throughout. It went over really well during my set at Bal en Blanc in Montreal. I guess it was about time I used a phrase I hear so often in life for one of my tracks!"
"After completing my last Markus Schulz artist album "Do You Dream"; I felt that I still had some creative energy left and needed to get it out of my system. Exclusivity in my livesets is important to me so Iwent into the studio with the intention of producing something banging and anthem-ish for the festival season last summer.
Originally Sinners was going to be something I wanted to keep unreleased and for my livesets only, but since debuting it during the World Tour recording in Budapest and becoming a regular on the show since, the demand of the fans twisted my arm and I decided to make it one of the big peak moments of this Dakota project. I'm still playing the track in my livesets today, with some superb remixes done by upcoming talents such as Khomha and Aerofoil".
6. Terrace 5 a.m.
"This year very much has my name and the word "Space" used in the same sentence quite often - between the return of my residency at Space in Miami, and the beginning of a new one at Space in Ibiza, after being a resident at Amnesia for 6 years. Even though both clubs aren't linked to each other, there are lots of similarities with them boasting excellent mainroom and terrace facilities. For Thoughs Become Things II however, I wanted to produce something and dedicate it to both simultaneously.
Since hearing it, a lot of my fans have fairly described it as "I Feel Love meets 65.4Hz", since it has that iconic Moroder-style bassline combined with the energetic break similarly found in the track from the DYD album. The title of the track will hopefully be an apt one, because there are very few better atmospheres in either club when you hit that 5 a.m. mark and everyone is still in full party mode".
"Last November I played my first ever Mayday event in Poland, in the city of Katowice. It's an important location for me because the Planeta FM affiliate in the city was the first station in Poland to supportGlobal DJ Broadcast on their airwaves every week. On that night in particular however I was blown away by the cool underground techno vibe, despite the event taking place entirely outdoors. Normally when I play outdoors I tend to play high-tempo and banging from the outset, but with this gig I was able to explore the techno sound that I've loved incorporating into my sets over the past year in particular.
I had a basic idea in the hotel that afternoon andafter I got back after the gig, I stayed up all night and started working on the melody and percussion (I was flying to Hong Kong via Frankfurt the next day so the sleep could wait!). I've had many incredible nights playing in Poland and the people there have been so supportive of me over the years, so I dedicate this track to all of them. It will hopefully go down well with thecrowd when I play at Global Gathering in Gdansk in July".
"This one has a couple of inspirations to be thankful for, namely the timeless Blade Runner soundtrack by Vangelis and an old track by British band Simple Minds named "Belfast Child". I was given the honor of playing a 7 hour marathon set at Space in Miami for Winter Music Confernece, and I opened the night by playing this.
I debuted it on radio during the World Tour recoding at Avalon in Los Angeles, where I played a 6 hour set (and will be back there for another big night on August 20), and got a ton of emails asking about the track hours later. Then during the most recent World Tour recording at Pacha in New York, it was one of those special moments of being as one with the crowd. It's one of the tracks I'm most proud of and can see it hanging around in my sets for a while".
9. Suggestion No. 5
"I have no idea how I managed to keep this one under wraps for so long, especially in this day and age where pretty much everything that gets played in a club inevitably ends up on YouTube. The great thing about a club residency is that the crowd are more patient and will allow you to change things up a little and debut tracks before any other gigs. I've always regarded my Ministry of Sound residency in London that way, and during lastyear's solo set, I sneakily debuted an early version of Suggestion No. 5 in my set... and seemingly got away with it!
I love implanting beautiful and dreamy pads where the listener can just listen and float away on the journey that I try to take them on. This track in particular takes influence from the old Rokysopp and James Holden sounds, and works really well live when playing it in the early parts of a long set".
10. In A Green Valley
"If you are a clubber who loves travelling and exploring different venues around the world, then you have to visit Brazil's amazing Green Valley. Located in the Camboriu municipal, it is undoubtedly one of the powerhouses that defines the very best of South American nightlife. I got booked to play at the venue last October for the very first time, and to be honest I was really nervous before playing, because it's a venue normally reserved for the biggest names in house music.
But even I couldn't have envisaged how incredible an experience playing there could be. Imagine playing to a huge passionate crowd, and as the sun comes up you can see the beautiful shades of green interspersed with waterfalls in the background. It's nothing short of breathtaking. After playing there for the second time in January, I took the inspiration of the club and worked on creating a track which had a clubby vibe but a very deep and emotional melody involved - my vision of being "In a Green Valley". I can't wait to come back and play there later this year".
"I guess having lived in the city for a decade now meant that I should show some love by naming one of my tracks after it! I guess it's also appropriate given that it's one of the few tracks on the album where the idea was conceived at home and not somewhere on the road. It envisages the fast-paced life of South Beach, where parties go long into the night and some never end.
The track is heavily bassline-drven and gives it plenty of momentum throughout, with the break one of those short-but-sweet moments of euphoria before going back to the grind. It has been doing good damage in my livesets, and the fans in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore in particular took to it very well. I guess it's a nice reminder of home when I'm thousands of miles away!"
12. Cape Town
"Towards the end of last year and after a long wait, I was finally given the opportunity to play a gig in South Africa for the first time - part of the Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project between Cape Town and Berlin. Normally when I'm on tour it's not often that I have a spare day to explore where I'm staying, but on Thanksgiving Day I took the opportunity to travel up to Table Mountain in the city. It's a long way up but when you reach the top, it's one of those sights where you immediately draw breath and take a moment to reflect on things.
In between that trip and the gig at the Belville Velodrome, I spent a few days constructing the idea for a new track, based on the visit to Table Mountain. The first half makes you feel that you are consistently on the rise and travelling upwards, then when the main melody kicks in it presents a gentle descent after reaching your destination".
"One of my biggest career highlights happened last year when I had the opportunity to play a 7 hour all-night open to close solo set for my Gallery residency at Ministry of Sound in London. After wrapping up the gigs that weekend, I stayed in my apartment in Berlin for a couple of days and solely concentrated on creating the building blocks of the track that turned out to be Saints. Like its guilty brother Sinners (if you could call it that), it boasts one of those big room leads that work so well on crowds regardless if it's in a packed club or at an outdoor festival.
I started playing the track out in February with roadtests in Budapest and Prague, and with a few tweaks, I finally unveiled it to the world during the huge ASOT 500 event that took place at Club G.E.B.A. in Buenos Aires back in April. It's guaranteed to be one of my weapons of choice when it comes to festival season this summer".
"The final track of the album is an almost 9 minute long journey, and is one that can only be fully appreciated if you listen to it from start to finish. Naturally when you hear the word Apollo then you think of Space and Space travel, and the track starts with a calm journey before building with extra elements and layers as it grows minute by minute.
It's probably an appropriate way to finish Thoughts Become Things II, since it presents a journey within a journey. Apollo deliberately has an intro and an outro, different sections reflecting different moods, and I guess allows the listener to reflect on the various ups and downs they encounter in day-to-day life. It's very much in the traditional Coldharbour mould".