Miami-based DJ and producer Markus Schulz took some time to sit down with Splice recently at EDC Las Vegas just before his set at sunrise. Amidst a busy tour and production schedule, Markus tell us about some of his major studio projects for this year along with sharing some wisdom for creating music while on the road. Read on to learn more about his production process, collaboration process and favorite studio tools.
Splice: How did you prepare for your live set at EDC Las Vegas this year?
Markus Shulz: Last year, we did a New World Punx set. Ferry (Corsten) and I collaborated on our set last year. This is a solo set, a little bit different for this set, especially since I got the sunrise time slot, which is a special moment. All the anthems have been played all weekend long. To be playing at sunrise, you’ve got to bring something special, something different. What can I bring that hasn’t been done the previous two days? I really take a lot of pride in my set and try to always bring something special.
Splice: You’ve also been busy in the studio. Can you tell us about your new “City Series” project?
Markus Schulz: In previous years, I made a mix compilation, and I dedicated it to a city that inspired me most during that year. This year, I wanted to do something a little bit different. I’m always making tracks for my sets, maybe never releasing them, but just making tracks for special sets. I had an idea to pick a city each month and make a track dedicated to that city. We’re now six tracks in. It’s my concept for this year. I think that people can also hear the difference between the cities. I made a track for Coachella in Indio, California. It’s a lot different than, for example, the track that I made for London or the track that I made for San Francisco. I think that as the year winds down, we’re also going to have some very special and interesting collaborations too.
Splice: How do you approach creating these tracks when you’re traveling so much?
Markus Schulz: It just comes from sparks and ideas. I find that I have fresh ideas as soon as I get off the stage. As soon as I get back to my hotel room, I’ll just sketch out a quick idea, a melody, an arrangement idea. Then, when I’ve got those long flights or a day off in the hotel, I’ll go through my library of sketches and just map things out a little bit more. Then, when I have time to get into my studio in Miami, that’s when I really focus on the mix.
It’s a process. I know that a lot of guys can get into the studio for one or two days and finish a track, but for me, it’s not just about making a track and finishing it in one or two days. The whole journey of the track is important to me and the track needs to work in a live setting. If I can’t play it in my sets, the track doesn’t really suit me as well.
Splice: In addition to plugins, are you working with audio samples and sample packs at all?
Markus Schulz: Yeah, I do. I always try to layer or modify sounds though. I take a lot of pride in trying to have unique sound. I’ll use some sample kits to get ideas rolling, then, I like to replace them, or spend some time on sound design and sample layering.
Splice: What about plugins? What are some of your latest go-to plugins?
Markus Schulz: I have been using Spire for a while. I love that plugin Spire but it’s such a memory hog. Sometimes, I’ll bounce down to audio.
I’ve also gone back to Sylenth again. Sylenth is the plugin that just won’t go away. You keep swearing like, “This project, I don’t want to use any Sylenth,” and then you wind up, just because you’ve got an idea in your head. It’s just so quick and easy to use. It sounds really good as well!
Splice: How have you seen technology changing the way producers collaborate and share sessions?
Markus Schulz: Everybody has their own way of working. The way I’ve been working with Ferry is by going back and forth with audio stems. Ferry works in Cubase and I work in Logic. It would be super cool if he was able to export the FXB file with the MIDI and import into Logic, Ableton Live or any other DAW.
Splice: If you were to play one track from this new project for somebody who hadn’t heard it first, what would be the top pick that comes to mind?
Markus Schulz: I’d probably say “Bayfront,” which is the track that I did and dedicated to Miami. Miami is my hometown. It’s a very special track and people will get an idea of what the energy of the city series for this year is all about.
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