Markus Schulz released arguably his most ambitious album today titled "Watch The World", a 17 track LP with 10 special bonus acoustic versions on a separate disc. This legendary artist is giving fans a brand new sound filled with lush vocals and unique guitar/piano work that stands apart from his 7 previous albums. Having co-written the lyrics of tracks like "Destiny", we get to see a whole new creative side of Markus Schulz.
In this following interview Markus Schulz talks about the inspiration and creative process behind "Watch The World", and it's a must read. Enjoy:
1) What was the inspiration behind "Watch the World"?
After completing the two Scream albums, I was at a point in my career where I wanted to evaluate and see where I wanted to go in the future. I had finished five full Markus Schulz albums and two Dakota albums. What was the next step to take me forward and make things more exciting?
So when I undertook a period of reflection, my mind cast back to the days of my youth, and the things I enjoyed. When I was at school, the one subject I excelled at was creative writing, and my teachers would always be encouraging me to try it as often as possible. However, even at that age, having fallen in love with music and listening to the radio, I was so determined to chase my dream of becoming a DJ, even at the expense of everything else.
When doors began to open for me on the DJ front, thanks to organising breakdance parties, eventually leading to playing in the gay clubs and being discovered for The Works in Arizona, the next step for me was moving into production. And when you are at that young age, you expend all of your creative energy into the music - playing around with the synthesizers and turning the knobs. So my desire for creative writing began to fade away over time.
But now, having completed this album, on a personal level it’s very gratifying to me to delve into an interest that was there in my youth, but had faded away as my DJ career began. It feels like a flame inside me has been reignited. 17 tracks later, the Watch the World album is ready with amazing stories waiting to be heard by everyone.
2) You co-wrote the lyrics for the new album, and with 13 out of the 17 tracks from the album being vocals, this is your most vocal led album to date. Was working with so many vocalists the plan from the beginning, or did it just come about organically?
It was organic, and I have to admit that the response to Destiny in particular was the driving catalyst behind the album’s theme. The person who deserves a lot of credit towards the album is Adina Butar, because of her constant encouragement in helping me realise that I was capable of writing these stories, being able to translate what I was feeling towards a listening audience.
I had a series of writing camps throughout the album process - kindly arranged by my management - three in Los Angeles and one in Bucharest. This was a wonderful opportunity to work with the singers in person, which isn’t always the case when collaborating on an album. I met Delacey at the first one in LA, and sat down with her and explained the story I wanted to convey, about meeting someone in your life who inspires you so much that you feel like you were destined to encounter them.
With it being such a personal story, it meant that much more to me that everyone out there found a deep resonance with the song and the lyrics. The reactions towards Destiny gave me confidence that maybe I was capable after all of producing something with a personal songwriting approach, and spawned the rest of the Watch the World album that you hear now.
3) There was a lot of guitar and piano instrumentation for this album, with an entire acoustic version dedicated for most tracks on disc 2. How was the experience of using a lot more instrumentation in making this album?
You know, I really enjoyed it and felt it contributed to the warmth of the album very significantly.
Nowadays, because of all the travel involved with touring, you want your production setup to be as simple as possible. Typically, on the road I have a separate laptop with Logic and Ableton on it. Ableton is good for carving out loops and rough ideas, and Logic helps me get creative with the sounds and effects. In fact, nearly all of the tracks on Scream and Scream 2 were produced this way.
However, with the production of Watch the World, I consciously wanted to utilise more organic instruments like guitars. Even if you don’t hear it in the mix, there’s a guitar buried there, or a piano that’s buried in there because it just brings out a frequency that I feel is missing or has been missing in a lot of productions lately. It just warms it up so nice. From a production standpoint, this was the biggest aspect which I have taken appreciation from.
4) What's one thing fans should know about this album that hasn't been said yet? Or what’s the most important thing for you to get across about it?
The most important aspect I want fans to take from it is to treat it very much as a one-to-one listening experience. It’s you and me, we’re hanging out, and I have some incredible stories to share with you if you are happy to lend an ear.
What I want to harness from the album into my livesets is not necessarily to saturate a mix with vocals, but to build up towards the vocals being very important peaks, words establishing stories that connect with each of us spiritually, stories that are important in binding us as a community.
5) Any plans for a remix version of "Watch the World"?
Yes, that’s the next step in the project, getting into the A&R process of remixes.
Right now the priority for me is sorting a remix package for the next single, Love Me Like You Never Did, but continually searching for the right names to marry a remix for every track on the album. I also have some projects left over that didn’t make the initial cut, and I would like to revisit those in the coming months to develop them into full tracks.
And as summer approaches, I’ll be itching to get one or two big melodic instrumentals as important pieces for the livesets.
6) You've debuted a few of the tracks direct from Facebook video - can fans expect to see more of these live chats?
For sure, I think that’s a really cool feature that has been introduced through Facebook now. The speed of the comments from the fans posting is quite difficult to keep up with! But they’re a lot of fun and I’ll definitely try to do them more often, because the fans seem to value them a lot.
Although in saying that, I’ll most likely leave the most scandalous material to Snapchat.
7) When you're in the studio, do you experience any difficulty in balancing your artistic inspiration with some fans expectations of them wanting you to produce solely trance records?
Well, where I am very lucky is that I have fans that have followed me on this journey for a very long time, and they have devoted so much effort to supporting what I represent. And any time I have tried doing something outside of the box; they have embraced it and offered encouragement too.
Of course some people may evaluate the album and not enjoy it because they don’t like vocal trance, but at the same time I hope the instrumentals such as Fears and A Better You will be something that will connect and appeal fondly to them, with the emotionally-laden melodies and beats.
Everyone knows I’m always actively creating, and there will hopefully be a broad palette on offer from my output that everyone out there can at least find something to appreciate. If you like instrumentals, you have those tracks plus the entire city series collection over the past twelve months, with more new music coming in the summer. And if you like words with stories that have important messages, then a lot of the album will appeal.
8) Speaking of trance, any future plans for the Dakota project?
Dakota is still active! He’s just quietly hanging out exclusively in my livesets for the past while, especially in the open to close solo sets. Obviously it’s difficult nowadays to promote multiple releases at once, and the priority for me right now has to be the Watch the World album.
But I can assure you with confidence that Dakota is not going away and never will. Most of the Dakota tracks I have worked on in the past year or so don’t even have track titles, but they are amazing to play in the livesets. And there is that special reaction from the fans, because the trainspotters out there can kinda figure out which tracks are Dakota, and there’s a spontaneous excitement from people when they hear them, because the only place they can is in the clubs.
Hopefully, I’ll try my best to release something under Dakota later this year.
Special thanks to Markus Schulz for this excellent interview. "Watch The World" is available now, click the album artwork below to grab a copy at your favourite spot:
If you want to watch Markus Schulz live this summer, he'll be making an appearance at this year's Ilesoniq in Montreal this August. Click here for more information.