Photo Credit: Coldharbour Recordings
Markus Schulz is known among his legions of devoted dance music fans as the “unicorn slayer” for giving his own dark, progressive, techno-tinged twist to the widely popular genre of EDM known as trance. As he rounds out a busy, gig-packed summer of touring across North America, Europe, South America and Asia, Schulz pauses his whirlwind travel schedule for a moment to reflect on his recent record-breaking ‘The Rabbit Hole Circus’ show at Los Angeles’ historic Avalon Hollywood.
L.A. Weekly: Congratulations on your recent show at Avalon Hollywood! Apparently, that performance broke all sorts of attendance records for the venue and the reaction from attendees appears to have been overwhelmingly positive. Please describe what it was like.
Markus Schulz: Yeah, that show! Avalon was absolutely amazing. I’ve been playing shows at Avalon for well over 10 years, now, and this was one of my favorite shows. I think what made this so amazing were all the theatrics that we brought along with us. The singers – Emma Hewitt, HALIENE, Adina Butar and Pretty Poison – the aerialists and the other performers just made the whole show spectacular. It really was exactly what I was trying to achieve for highlighting my new album, The Rabbit Hole Circus (Coldharbour Recordings). Theater and techno.
L.A. Weekly: What’s the driving concept behind ‘The Rabbit Hole Circus’ as a live performance?
Markus Schulz: The concept behind ‘The Rabbit Hole Circus’ live show is to have a spectacular vibe where you’re constantly on the edge of your seat, not knowing what’s going to happen next. With all of the singers and the aerialist performances, as well as lasers, visuals and cryo effects, it really was a 10-hour show where you were taken on a complete journey, not just musically, but visually, as well.
L.A. Weekly: What were some of the biggest challenges that went into the show’s production?
Markus Schulz: I think the biggest challenge of The Rabbit Hole Circus show was just coordinating everybody. There are so many moving parts. I had a whole team helping to coordinate everything, so that the day of the show, I could just focus on my performance. But make no mistake: I had one part of my mind on all of the other performances happening and about to happen, making sure that performers were in the right spots at the right times. I also had to make sure that I was on-point, as well. Mentally, it was exhausting. But, when I look back at all of the footage, I feel we accomplished something great.
L.A. Weekly: Where will ‘The Rabbit Hole Circus’ show welcome music-lovers, next?
Markus Schulz: I’m currently working on the next group of Rabbit Hole Circus shows, but I haven’t announced them yet. I wanted to get the first three dates done and then look at the next group of shows. There were certain things that I liked about the first three shows and some things that I didn’t like, so fine-tuning the show is essential for 2024.
L.A. Weekly: From your tour calendar, it’s evident that the majority of your performances are not ‘The Rabbit Hole Circus’ shows, but rather the routine DJ-sets. How are you conditioning your body and your mind to transition between the two types of performances? Do you find it draining to be touring two different types of shows, or do you find it somehow beneficial?
Markus Schulz: I do have the two different types of shows. The Rabbit Hole Circus shows are much more a spectacle where everything is choreographed and my improvisational part of the night happens well after all the singers and aerialists have done their thing. My normal DJ shows are a lot more relaxed, but at the same time harder-hitting musically. I don’t have to worry about staying on a schedule when it’s a DJ show, I can just read the crowd and turn them inside-out. Of course, I love doing both types of sets; I am a DJ and that’s my calling. But I also come from a theater background and theater’s always been a passion of mine. It’s good to have both shows in my tool box. It’s perfect for me.
L.A. Weekly: Please talk about your album, The Rabbit Hole Circus (Coldharbour). Was it inspired by the tour or vice versa?
Markus Schulz: The Rabbit Hole Circus album was definitely inspired by the possibility of The Rabbit Hole Circus tour! As I was creating the album, I envisioned aerialists and performers. I wanted this album to sound darker, deeper and more mesmerizing, lyrically and emotionally. I’m very happy with the turnout of the album and I know that these songs will be in my shows for years to come.
L.A. Weekly: Looking ahead, can you talk about the upcoming shows on your tour calendar? Which ones are you the most excited about?
Markus Schulz: One that really stands-out for me is Stereo in Montreal on Canadian Thanksgiving. It’s a show that I do every year and it sells-out the minute tickets go on-sale. I play from 2:00am until noon, and it’s just the craziest, trippiest euphoric techno! I work on this set all year long, and it’s one of my favorite shows. The soundsystem there is amazing, and it really makes me sound good. I can’t answer this question without throwing in the fact that my annual ritual of New Year’s Eve at Avalon is also circled and I’m already working on my set! Ringing in the New Year in the City of Angels has become a tradition. The next step is fine-tuning The Rabbit Hole Circus show, including remixes of my catalog to refresh the songs for the next iteration of the tour. New dates will be announced soon!
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