What’s up guys,
Hope you are doing well. Bet you thought you were never going to see one of these again!
I know; I’ve been bad. It’s been a more than just a little while since I’ve found myself with some time to check in with you and give a detailed account of what I’ve been up to (and even now with album production in full swing, I don’t in truth), so hopefully this is something you’ve been waiting for.
So what I’ll try to do is recap some of the memorable moments on the road this year so far (and seeing the might of Fabio Lanzoni’s hair in person), give a bit of an album update and some thoughts on a couple of notable events that have taken place.
With today being the release of some of the LA ’12 tracks in full (Bolandish included), I guess I just feel compelled to cast my mind back to a certain weekend in February.
The first few months of this year were all pointing to Hollywood Boulevard. That San Andreas Soundlab guy might have been onto something.
I have to admit, when we announced the two release parties, I was pretty nervous. It’s a big undertaking to do two back-to-back nights. It was also looking like it would be my longest ever solo set, but going into the night itself, I still didn’t exactly know how long. I figured I’d do eight tops.
One of the things I have to do first is thank all of you who has supported the compilation and given some very kind words. It was probably the first occasion in the city series that every single track on the compilation was unreleased by the time it came out, and as always, I’m so grateful to the amazing roster we have on Coldharbour for coming up with the goods. Like the compilations before, there will be tracks on there which will resonate with fans for years to come.
The week leading up to the events was tough going. I was editing practically everything in sight. Going to bed late and getting up early and heading straight to the studio. After a gig in Orlando on Thursday night, the Coldharbour office crew in Miami were all on their way to the city of angels.
On Saturday I was still preparing, writing out tracks on separate sheets to figure out what would fit the vibe of each hour of the set as the night progressed. Some media interviews in the afternoon were carried out. Only light meals were allowed; anything heavy and I probably wouldn’t have lasted too long at Avalon. With a little nap I was ready, but boy was I nervous. Showtime at 9:30pm.
Like any solo outing, my mindset is to split the night into three parts - where I’m acting the role of warmup DJ, headline DJ and then afterhours DJ. I started off the set with an untitled production I made earlier that week - nothing too special, just something to get people settled as they’re coming into the club and getting their drinks, with other elements joining the beats gradually.
I have a lot of fun in those building hours, because it gives me the chance to play tracks I love to a live audience that I don’t normally get the chance to in a short yet. The first couple of hours the mood stayed low, but when the club was packed, it was time to hit the lights and go into full swing.
The weekend was all about celebrating the compilation, so it was great to see the crowd reacting well to the LA ’12 tracks in particular - the likes of City of Angels, Mind Gamer, Dark Harbour and Fortuna going over huge. There was a moment in the middle of my set where I had to take a breath and ask myself if this was all really happening. You could just feel this special vibe emanating from the dancefloor that you wish you could bottle for life.
With the peak-hour section done it was time to move into the rabbit hole and classics section, or as some may call it, the survival of the fittest. I’ll be honest with you guys, I still had no idea at 4am how long I was going to go, but as long as there were plenty of people there still partying it up, then I would try my best to make the night more memorable. Quite a few tracks were being played for the very first time, like the Blue Monday reconstruction you heard in the World Tour from San Francisco recently.
Before I knew it, the clock was almost saying 8am. Ten and a half hours!!! I wrapped up the night with one of my favorite tracks, the Super8 & Tab remix of Paul van Dyk’s Nothing But You. That track always reminds me of playing the Together As One New Year’s Eve shows in LA, so it was appropriate to play it towards the end.
Hollywood Boulevard faded into silence and I was done. I don’t know how I did it, but some 137 tracks after 9:30pm that Saturday night, I did it. It felt like I’d just run a marathon, but on the inside I felt like I’d accomplished something really memorable. So much so that when I got back to the hotel and instead of going straight to bed, I emailed one of my crew overseas who had wished me luck a couple of hours before I headed to Avalon that I played for 10 and a half hours! But yeah, after that, I did go to sleep, but not without a big smile.
Could we do the magic again? Night 2 was upon us, and with our friends at Sirius XM in town, we had a live broadcast around the world to plan for.
This night took a lot of preparation too, as I was working with all the DJs in the days leading up to this night on how we needed to program and build the vibe properly. We unfortunately lost Khomha thanks to visa issues, but Arnej was ready to step in, despite having to fly from Poland that morning. It was a big night too for Grube & Hovsepian, adapting to the important role of getting the crowd warmed up; and one which they performed very well.
Jochen Miller was playing in Las Vegas that weekend so we invited him along to be part of the action, and he brought a big dose of energy that got the younger crowd jumping. I was doing a bit of radio work with Austin Kramer on Electric Area, so I could assess how the night was going from up high, before heading down to the booth to begin my long night at 12:30.
The noise that greeted Hollywood Boulevard was absolutely deafening! With Jochen having raised the energy, I just had to keep the momentum going with my set. Just the pure big time stompers. A different vibe compared to the Saturday night, but was probably to be expected with the younger audience in attendance. I was conscience about not wearing the crowd out too much, because if you do that then the night ends early.
3am and it was time for my first back to back of the night with Arnej. We fed off each other pretty well, with things getting a bit twisted. It wasn’t easy being with him in the booth itself due to him being so tall though! We did some back to back and then I let him take the stage solo for a bit so I could catch a breather. Mr. Pit came on board at 4am and I think made a really good impression on everyone. Very smooth transitions and read the crowd really well. One of my biggest memories of the whole weekend was being in the booth with him for Sky Traffic; still one of my favorite tracks to pull out of the bag and play.
Just one hour to go and time to get dark again. That’s when the Afterhours Mix of Without You Near got pulled out, along with the Nothing at All mashup along with For an Angel. And like Saturday night, Hollywood Boulevard appropriately wrapped things up. Sunday night done, weekend done, a massive accomplishment achieved.
I remember posting on Facebook and tweeting as we were flying home a few hours after Avalon closed that it had been one of the most inspirational weekends in my life. And sitting here a few months later and I still feel the same way about it.
The big thanks must go to everyone at Giant and Liquified who promoted the weekend, Austin and his great crew at Sirius XM who were so kind to fly out and broadcast the Sunday night live for us, all of the DJs who shared the stage with me on the Sunday night, and most of all, to each and every one of you who attended both nights and shared some special memories with me.
All LA '12 party photos courtesy of Michael Melwani
I have to give a shoutout especially to the guys and girls on the Tranceaddict boards who supported me that weekend. The people on there were among the first to really embrace who I was musically and did so much to help build my career many years ago. I never thought I’d be hosting a full weekend in your city and selling out two nights in a row, and I know that there’s no chance I’d ever have made it to where I am without your support. So a sincere thanks to everyone who keeps on believing in me all year round there.
The hard part now for me is going to be - how the hell do I top this weekend the next time I play in Los Angeles?! I’ll have to try somehow.
This year so far has unfortunately brought us some sad moments in the industry - two in particular stand out for me. We weren’t even out of January when news surfaced regarding the tragic passing of Shem McCauley, better known in the electronic circles as Slacker.
When I lived in London, I used to hang out with him in the clubs. We would bump into each other often when I went vinyl shopping at Plastic Fantastic and when I’d occasionally stop by the Hooj Choons offices. His productions and remixes were long-time staples on my Edge Factor radio show back in the day and my livesets.
His track “Psychout” was on my Shikodachi compilation in the late 90s. And tracks like “Scared” and “Your Face” are still regarded today as some of the most influential produced in the history of our scene.
He passed away in Bangkok. I found out about the news thanks to a tweet by Nick Warren, "Very, very sad to hear that Shem aka Slacker passed away. He was a lovely guy and it is a lesson to all of us to stay in touch and look after your friends".
I think there’s a message in there for all of us to absorb and follow. Rest in peace buddy, you will be forever missed.
With the dust settling on LA, and another massive weekend that followed in New York and Toronto (I promise to cover these in the next blog), the focus shifted to the annual A State of Trance live extravaganzas. The preparations had not started well, with news of the unfortunate cancellation in Belgrade that I was due to play. I feel sorry for the people there, and hopefully some day further down the line, I’ll get to make it up to you with a gig of my own.
After an encounter with the Godskitchen Fusion Cube in St. Petersburg for their International Women’s Day party (huge deal in Russia), my focus turned to Kiev - a city that has given me plenty of fond memories over the years. The IEC was host to one of the Global DJ Broadcast World Tour shows in 2010, and this was the setting for my first ASOT 550 offering.
To me, these parties are all about breaking new tunes, parading the big current tunes, and celebrating those classics that we’ve all loved. So immediately following my return from Los Angeles, I kinda had the idea about doing an up to date, traditional 4/4 version of the iconic Remember Magnetic North that I could play in my livesets. I love the original to bits, and it’s always great to dig out as an encore, but with it being a breaks track, it’s hard to fit into the middle of my peak hour sets.
What we DJs have to remember about the live events, and live broadcasts in general, is that we are playing for two audiences - the live crowd, and the people supporting and listening at home. I had a feeling that Remember Magnetic North would be one for my forum peeps.
Kiev was also the official unveiling of the collab I did with Dennis Sheperd, Go!
Dennis and I worked on the track during a week in November when I was staying in Berlin (I think from memory it was the week leading up to Transmission in Prague), and we had a lot of fun together. Like many of you, I was so impressed with his work on Fallen Angel last summer, and felt that combining his sound with mine was something that could work well on the dancefloor. It has been floating around in my livesets since Thanksgiving, and the YouTube videos started appearing towards the runup to the LA weekend, but I’m pleased with how it’s done so far.
ASOT 550 Kiev photos courtesy of topdj.ua
The Coldharbour remix of Breathing got a huge reaction at the end, although I had a feeling it might after all the requests the Kiev fans had messaged me on Facebook in the week leading up to the gig. Looking back, this gig felt like another important moment for me in 2012 so far. A lot of the fans I spoke to after were actually thanking me for my set “making them dance”. Big appreciation to the Kiev faithful as always.
After Winter Music Conference week (which will be covered in another blog, sorry again!), the grand finale of 550 was approaching in Den Bosch. After my first residency appearance for The Gallery at Ministry of Sound in London, it was time to reunite with the great Dutch fans once again. Another live broadcast, which meant that I needed some new tricks up my sleeve.
During that week, I asked Khomha if he could make me an intro version of his recently revealed track “Days Gone Bye”. Much like U R the year before, I wanted something that would start my set off in a big way. He’s on fire at the moment (again), not just with Days Gone Bye, but Artemis too. There’s also another track in my sets right now that is just out of this world; one of the most outrageously addictive basslines I’ve heard in years.
There was quite a spooky situation during that set, because Ferry Corsten was playing at the same time on the Blue Stage. You guys will know that I’ve been spending quite a bit of time with Ferry over the past few months, including the night we took over Godskitchen in Birmingham all night long and went back to back. We’ve also had some jamming sessions in the studio, and that of course has yielded our tribute to the old Jens classic Loops & Tings. So it was pretty cool to have Loops & Tings going in the two rooms in such a short space of time.
One of the big moments in Den Bosch for me was Mr. Pit’s incredible remix of Susana’s track Home. I loved the original back in the day, and she’s done such an outstanding job with her version. I admire her so much as a performer and as a person, and I really hope she does well with her new album Brave coming out in a couple of weeks. I’ve been supporting her tracks Down to Nothing and All Time Low a lot on Global DJ Broadcast, so make sure you take some time to check it out on iTunes. Big props must go to Mr. Pit for his efforts too, because the remix is going over so well in all my sets now.
As always, the Dutch fans are so welcoming and treat me like one of their own, and that’s why it’s always a pleasure to perform for them and try to raise the bar every time. So a big thanks to all of you who came out and supported me among all the star cast performing in Den Bosch that night. And of course a big thanks to Armin and all at ALDA who gave me the privilege of performing at these big live events.
It looks like the momentum will continue well into the summer on Monday nights at Privilege. More details on that to come very soon.
Anyone who has read a plethora of interviews I’ve done over the years will know that I’ve cited the legendary Danny Tenaglia as one of my DJing inspirations. The news he is taking an indefinite break from the scene hit home with me quite personally.
Danny is to many “the DJs DJ”. The perfect example I always give to explain this is when I was attending Space in Miami as a clubber during Winter Music Conference 2001. I had Carl Cox standing to the left of me, and John Digweed to the right, both legends in our scene in their own right, and here they were totally rocking out to Danny’s set.
Much like my early DJing career, Danny is primarily known as a house guy, but with the amazing ability to mix things up so unexpectedly that it does wonders to the vibe of a room. During that WMC 2001 set, out of nowhere he drops PPK’s Resurrection, and the place absolutely exploded. It was moments like that which have inspiried me and help me appreciate the art of DJing, something I’ve very consciously tried to perfect in my own DJ sets.
Danny at Bal en Blanc 2012. Photo courtesy of David Giral.
So the news that he’s taking a leave of absence from DJing is a sad one. Retirement has been mentioned, and I sincerely hope it isn’t true. I was fortunate to play at Bal en Blanc this year again and when my set was done, I went to the house room and partied with the fans to Danny’s set. And just like Resurrection at Space, out of nowhere he plays Daft Punk’s Alive. It was a magical feeling.
I hope that apart from his few remaining outstanding commitments, we haven’t seen the last of Danny Tenaglia the DJ. None of us who are in the scene for the right reasons want to ever retire. I don’t even want to contemplate the day it might even come close to hovering over my head.
But for now, Danny, I thank you for everything you have done for me. As the track says - be yourself, and no one else.
Days, nights, long weekends - once a famous phrase from Kindergarten Cop, but it’s now my mantra in the studio. My fourth artist album, entitled Scream, is well into development.
You may have noticed me being a bit quieter on Facebook and Twitter on occasions in between the gigs, and the reason for that has been to concentrate fully on the album or working on the radio shows. With artist albums in particular it takes much longer to complete individual tracks, because you have to perfect your music bed to accommodate the vocal of a singer. Things are going well so far, but still a lot of work to be done before the final product.
There might be a little lady from Romania who has popped up in the news recently, and with good reason! The beautiful Adina Butar is on board for this album, and many of you who have been to the live shows over the past six weeks or so have been treated to test runs of my new track with her, called Caught. I’m still tweaking it as things stand, but I’ll probably be ready to drop it live during one of the big festival broadcasts that are on the horizon very soon.
But in truth, it has been a lot of hard work so far getting the album progressing. I had a couple of weeks off the road in April and to be honest, I don’t know what I would have done without them. I was able to have a clear head without jetlag, get up early, work in the studio during the day and do any office stuff that needed to be done, then after dinner I’d go back to the studio and be in the building alone to absorb the tracks and fix anything that wasn’t right.
With Adina in the studio
As the summer comes I’ll start filtering in the tracks into my livesets, so hopefully there will be some cool exclusive moments for everyone to enjoy. I have to say that there are some amazing vocals on this album so far, some incredible male ones in particular which might surprise a lot of you too. I’ll give you a tease - one of them I’ve worked with before.
Right now the album is tentatively pencilled in for release at the end of August, so I’ve got a few weeks left to get everything ready. Keep wishing me luck guys.
It’s another weekend in the studio for me here in Miami to work on Scream, but next weekend is another massive one on the road. First up is a trip to Atlanta for another Opera appearance, always a lot of fun, but Saturday is a biggie.
Playing at Pacha in NYC in February. Photo courtesy of David Guzman.
One of my goals in 2012 was to show the people of New York some more love than usual. With two extended sets at Pacha in the books, it’s time to deliver something mega at the New Meadowlands next Saturday night for the first ever New York edition of the Electric Daisy Carnival. If the production levels are as good as they were in Las Vegas last year, this will be one for the books. It’s going to be a live broadcast on Sirius XM and on the A State of Trance website, so keep an eye out during the week for details on my set time and how to tune in.
The week after I’m back in South America, doing some more touring with Ferry for Godskitchen. We’re doing Boombox shows in Buenos Aires and Santiago, with a gig for me in Cordoba in between, and I’m really looking forward to all of them. The South American fans are so passionate, and it’s been so long since I was last there, so definitely something to look forward to.
And with that, it’s time to wrap things up for a bit again. Thank you guys for your patience and allowing me to check in with you after so long. It has been a very demanding year so far, but hopefully it will all be worth it. I can’t guarantee anything but I’ll do my best to check in with another blog soon, because there’s still so much to recap and discuss with you.
Until then, take care and thank you again for your support and keeping me going. I’m off to attempt to make my hair look and smell as beautiful as Fabio.
Source: Markus Schulz Facebook