Markus Schulz is releasing his fifth artist album, Scream 2. The album is a continuation of thoughts and ideas after the release 2012's Scream, and features a number of great collaborations - including the famous CeCe Penniston, well-known for her early '90s dance floor hit "Finally."
To celebrate the release of Scream 2, Markus threw four album release parties in Los Angeles, his hometown of Miami, New York City, and London - at the world famous Ministry of Sound.
Right before his stunning 10.5 hour set at New York City's famous nightclub Pacha, we caught up with Markus and he told us all about Scream 2, how he makes it through those marathon sets, going down the rabbit hole, and his fans. He also told us the top three things that make him scream!
Check out what else the Unicorn Slayer had to say and Top Three with Markus Schulz below:
In the beginning of the Scream 2 behind-the-scenes video, you were on the phone with your manager. You were struggling to meet the deadline on the album and he said you were "late." Did you plan on releasing the album earlier?
Well, all the tracks were already finished, I just wanted to fine tune them, get the mix-downs a little better, you know, those little extra things. I think as an artist you never feel like you're truly done, and I just wanted an opportunity to go through each track, track by track one more time, and fine tune everything. But it wasn't like I was creating the music like at the last minute, everything was already done, I already said "oh it’s ready to go" - but mentally I was just not prepared to give it up yet. So that 24 hours we just spent trying to fine tune everything.
Scream 2 is the follow up to Scream, and you said that there were some things that you didn't get to say with that album, so what is it that you wanted to say with Scream 2?
Well, I think it was just the ideas - you know, normally when I finish an album I’ll take some time off and just kind of reset. When I finished Scream, I just felt like I was in such a good groove and still had so many ideas. There were still some artists that I had met and wanted to work with that I hadn’t had a chance to. So we just decided I’ll just keep working and see what happens. And through the bus tour, I was working on the bus, and in hotel rooms, and everything. And then by the summer time I realized "wow, you know what, we’ve got enough tracks here for another album." At the same time it really felt like the continuation of the story, so that’s why I said this needs to be Scream Part 2.
You've said that behind each song there’s a story. What were the most interesting stories to you - the stories behind the songs?
Yeah, each song has it’s own unique story. Like in the video I already talked about how "Erase You" is like the sequel to "Nothing Without Me." "Destino" was made at a hotel in Ibiza, this new hotel called Destino which overlooks the Ibiza Harbor. I’ve said this before but it’s so cool, cause I’ll play that track - whether I’m playing it in a rabbit hole club or in front of 20,000 people it doesn’t matter – mentally I go right back to that spot in Ibiza where I’m just soaking in the sun and just kind of feel the vibes.
There’s a track on the album called "Reflection" which is a little bit special for me because I did it in Berlin, and my father was there, and he was listening at my little studio in Berlin. He was sitting on the couch all day long listening to me work, and dancing along, and kind of giving [his opinion] "oh I like this, I like that." So it was the first time that I ever had my father, who’s also a musician, in the same room while I was working on a track. So that kind of has a special meaning for me as well.
"Remember This" was released before Scream 2 and you said you had been road testing it, and finally unveiled it at EDC. What do you remember when you hear "Remember This" – what memories come to mind for you?
The thing that I remember the most was working on the melody, and I remember thinking "yeah I like it, I like it." And then I remember I was on the airplane with Ferry [Corsten] and he plugged in his headphones. I was like "you know I was working on this melody" and he goes "you know these two notes if they go this way" and then I transposed two notes that way - which made me go "oh this note needs to go here." And as soon as it hit that top note, which is the first sequence ... goose bumps just everywhere! It was like I knew right then. And Ferry just looked at me like "wow this is the bomb, this melody is something special." So that’s what I’ll always remember about that. It’s funny, cause even when we’re doing New World Punx shows and we're up on stage, as soon as it hits those two notes, we just look at each other. It’s just that "dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun" - Those top two notes. It’s like it doesn’t matter what happens afterwards, the glory is those two notes when they just hit. So for me that’s what I always remember about that track. No matter where I’m at, especially if Ferry is with me, when the track plays and it hits those two notes, we just look at each other and nod and laugh.
You talk about "Destino" and Montreal and Stereo (an afterhours club in Montreal), and that afterhours sound. So what do you like about after hours the most?
Well in the after hours you can get into this vibe, this moment where you can’t plan it, you don’t know when it’s gonna happen, but it’s this moment when you know the entire room is unified. It’s just a special feeling in the air and you just look around and everybody’s looking at each other. You look at the people behind you and you just nod your head, and you’re like "We’re here - we are in the rabbit hole now, this is it." Whatever happens from there it just gets better and better, the vibe gets better and you just laugh. For me, when I’m down the rabbit hole and that vibe is there, that mood is there, all I do is just laugh. You can’t create that atmosphere in just any club, and you just can’t create that atmosphere at any time of the night. It’s a journey to get there. And when you’re there you know it, and it’s never the same. Like I could play the same playlist in the next city the night after and it won’t happen the same way. It’s just the way the audience and the music and the vibe, everything comes together at that moment. It’s special when you know you’re in it.
CeCe Peniston is featured on your album, which is really exciting. She had such a classic with "Finally," and you actually know her from years ago. What was it like reconnecting and having her featured on Scream 2?
It was really cool. It’s really funny because that was the track that I thought on the album people would just kind of like dismiss as just a pop artist or whatever. But I think that track, in all the interviews that I’ve done, people have all asked about that track and for me it’s very special. I was working in a studio when I was first starting out, taking out the garbage, picking up dry cleaning, sweeping floors, you know scrubbing toilets - doing whatever I could just because I wanted to work in a studio and gain experience and everything. One of my friends actually helped write "Finally," and he was one of the writers on it, R.K. Jackson. So I’ve known her through all the years because of that experience. I mean "Finally" is like one of the greatest dance tracks of all time, and I remember I was playing at Avalon, I think it was last year or maybe a little bit longer - I had to do a double take and I’m like "oh my god it’s CeCe!" She was there, so we got to chat a little bit, talk to her manager, and we were like "let's just make a track together, let's just see what happens, no pressure." And it just worked, it was really unexpected; I love the track, I love the way her voice sounds with trance music, and for me it’s like coming full circle. You know, when I was taking out the trash, if a ghost would’ve appeared and said "she’s gonna be a featured vocalist on one of your albums in the future" - I would never have believed it. So it’s kind of cool to come around full circle again like this.
You're always on tour all over the world, but after the release of Scream, you went on a bus tour in North America. Do you plan to do the same thing for Scream 2?
Yeah we’re putting together a bus tour again because for me it’s like these release parties are more of a celebration of the accomplishment of releasing the album, or completing the album. So it’s not gonna be the singers coming out, it’s a celebration. And the bus tour is where I wanna put together a cool show for everybody to kind of showcase the album and the tracks.
You really like being on the bus?
Well you know, the first time I was on the bus, I was like "this is gonna be cool" - but it got old really quick. But the cool thing about it is when you put together a really good group of people, by the end of the tour you become a family and you’re kind of sad when the tour is over. So I’m kind of looking forward to that process. I’m looking forward to working with a new team, bonding creatively, jamming out, and creating a special tour.
This is your first time playing a marathon set in New York City, and you've played these extended sets a number of times before this, like at Tomorrowland over the summer. How do you make it through those 10/11/12 hour sets? Do you ever get hungry or do you ever have to use the restroom?
I get hungry, I get thirsty ... no you know I don’t [have to use the restroom] – that’s the biggest question everybody always wants to know. But, you know, I don’t drink any alcohol, I just drink some water here and there - and maybe iced tea later. But you just sweat it out and you're just going on adrenaline. I owe New York City an open to close set, and I’ve been promising New York City one for a long time - it's finally here and I’m really excited. I’ve been planning this for a while so I have a lot of surprises in store for them.
Speaking of Tomorrowland, your fans kept throwing things on stage, t-shirts, unicorns, flags, etc. Throughout your whole career what's the weirdest thing anyone’s ever thrown on stage or asked you to sign? Any body parts?
Well I’ve got underwear and bras, yeah all kinds of stuff. You know what speaking of body parts, one time I had somebody – a prosthetic limb. So that is probably the weirdest thing, I signed. A prosthetic limb.