Here’s why Montreal afterhours is awesome

Ahead of his return to Stereo this weekend, we spoke to superstar DJ Markus Schulz about our world-class late-night music scene.

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Markus Schulz. Photo by Michael Chidiac
For the past two decades, Miami-based producer, DJ, record label owner and radio show host Markus Schulz has created an empire built around his own signature fusion of progressive house and trance. Schulz has remained a permanent fixture on the global club circuit by playing in every major danceport on the planet, acquiring an impressive roster of production credits, garnering accolades from fellow DJs and amassing a huge global fellowship of fans. His sold-out return to Montreal’s acclaimed afterhours Stereo this Sunday comes with giddy anticipation from not only his devoted fans, but from the “unicorn slayer” himself.

Danny Légaré: What makes Stereo so special for you?
Markus Schulz: Stereo, for me, is one of the few remaining clubs of its kind. Nowadays, when you go into a show, it’s all about the razzmatazz. The event production and visuals have almost become as important as the music itself, whereas with Stereo, it’s entirely about the music. I think that as the scene continues to grow and evolve, it becomes even more important that clubs like Stereo in Montreal, Ministry of Sound in London and Space in Miami are cherished for what they contribute. I can honestly say that my career has been influenced by the club and what it stands for. When the world is going to bed, Montreal is just getting warmed up to party!

DL: Do you see your sound as more suited to the underground/afterhours scene?
MS: Montreal is one of the cities where I will prepare my sets differently than others because the people and the city itself possess an incredibly unique vibe. When I play the longer sets, you can categorize them in three parts — the progressive warm-up, the peak hour with all the big tunes, then the rabbit hole with techno reconstructions and classics. I think having these different portions of my palette gives me the ability to adapt to whatever the fans or vibe of the particular night demands. For a set in Stereo, it’s definitely more aggressive and twisted. The good DJs who have the ability to read a room will be the ones who can properly connect with the fans over a long period of a night with the music they play.

DL: Your sets at Bal en Blanc, Stereo and Beach Club have become legendary. Do you prefer to do longer sets or bang it out in a festival environment?
MS: Definitely the longer sets. When you play the big festivals, you’re pretty much providing a shop window of your biggest tracks, which can be fun in itself but you don’t really have the opportunity to explore or vary the energy levels. The unique thing about Bal en Blanc in particular is that it¹s a massive arena event; yet you get to play around three hours each time and have that ability to go on a journey. I always encourage promoters to give me the opportunity to play longer sets because not only are you giving better value for money to the promoter and the fans, but it gives me the platform to showcase who I am entirely as an artist and DJ by playing across the spectrum.

DL: Do you find that the scene in Montreal supports the big-room progressive trance sounds that would usually be reserved for gigs overseas?
MS: One of the privileges of being able to travel the world and play in different cities is the ability to gauge what way the wind is blowing in the scene at a particular time. You can feel that North America is leading the charge right now and these influences are becoming more prevalent in Europe and the rest of the world. Despite that, though, I don’t think Montreal will ever lose its identity, nor would I want it to. When I do Q&A sessions with the fans weekly on Facebook and Twitter, many of them say that they like to travel and they ask me which cities I would recommend to visit for a party. One of the cities I always mention without fail is Montreal, specifically because of how welcoming the community is, and because of events so special like Bal en Blanc, and clubs like Stereo. ■
Markus Schulz plays with Wizz and Insomnia at Stereo on Sunday, Oct. 13, sold out

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