“Very Wild”: Markus Schulz On Why His 2023 Open-to-Close NYE Set Might Be the Best Yet
Markus Schulz's signature open-to-close sets are a New Year's Eve staple year in and year out. But fans ringing in 2024 with the trance icon may very well be in for his best yet.
2023 saw Schulz release a huge album and take it on an ambitious tour, "The Rabbit Hole Circus." Inspired by the vibrant and madcap aesthetics associated with magical realism, the tour's striking production flung fans headlong into his creative universe all around the world.
So to say Schulz has momentum going into New Year's Eve would be a gross understatement. As he prepares for another classic marathon DJ set at Avalon Hollywood, we caught up with him to discuss why this particular performance has the feel of a tour de force.
Check out Schulz's interview with EDM.com below. You can buy tickets to his New Year's Eve show in Hollywood on December 31st, 2023 here.
EDM.com: Your "open-to-close" New Year’s Eve shows at Avalon Hollywood in Los Angeles have become something of an annual rite for progressive and trance music lovers. What’s cooking for this year’s New Year’s Eve show there?
Markus Schulz: This is always a big show for New Year’s Eve, and it’s become a tradition, as I’ve been told. This is my 12th time doing it every year. It’s very special to ring-in the New Year with the people of Los Angeles and the people who fly in from all over the world to partake in my traditional open-to-close set.
EDM.com: For the uninitiated, what are you referring to when you say "open-to-close?"
Markus Schulz: Those are my special sets that usually run between 10 and 12 hours, nonstop. Hence the nickname, open-to-close.
EDM.com: It’s tough to think of any other DJ at your level who plays marathon sets like this. The preparation for such a long set must take up an immense amount of time. Aren’t you exhausted after a while?
Markus Schulz: You know me! The later the night gets—or the earlier in the morning—the weirder things are, and that’s when I thrive the most, musically.
EDM.com: We’ve heard clubbers describing your New Year’s sets as the best in all of Los Angeles. If you lived in LA, you could host your own New Year’s Eve house party, have that wind down and then still go out to Avalon afterwards. It’s raging until what, 8am? Well after the sun comes up, right?
Markus Schulz: You know, I have had so many amazing "Rabbit Hole Circus Tour" sets this year, so this year‘s open-to-close set at Avalon is going to be very wild. All of the tracks and sequences that have been so successful for me throughout the year will surely go over amazingly, and all the new stuff that I’m planning for the night should surprise everybody.
That’s the one thing about doing these open-to-close sets: there are so many hours, days, weeks and months of planning that go into it, as well as tried and tested tracks and sequences that I’ve perfected throughout the year. I am definitely excited for New Year’s Eve!
EDM.com: Shifting gears for a moment, we’ve seen footage from your set headlining Transmission Netherlands. Those were some truly epic visuals and stage production! What was the experience like for you?
Markus Schulz: Transmission is one of my favorite events in the world. It is one stage in a massive arena and the feeling of unity—people are not wandering around going to different stages—so it really makes for a beautiful vibe. This was the first time Transmission was held in a football stadium, and the result was incredible! I’m very excited and honored to be a part of this event year after year, and to see it growing like this is amazing.
EDM.com: Were you happy with the sound quality at Transmission Netherlands?
Markus Schulz: Well, since it was the first time the event was held in a football stadium, this size venue, obviously there are things that will be adjusted for future additions. But I honestly feel that from where I was, the sound was amazing. I’m looking forward to seeing and hearing all the little tweaks for future additions because it’s only going to make the experience better.[embed]https://youtube.com/watch?v=NTdpxDy9IO0[/embed]
EDM.com: You have a new single coming out just after the New Year with HALIENE.
Markus Schulz: Yes, the single with HALIENE’s called, “Death of A Star.” I told her at the beginning of this project that I wanted to do something deeper and more of a “rabbit hole” vibe for this album, and she was all in on it. She loved the idea.
To be honest, this song came out so effortlessly because we had a vision for it, both musically and lyrically, for where it needed to go. I wish all the tracks that I made were this easy. Obviously, there will be some more banging remixes, but the original soul of the song is deeper and darker, for sure.
EDM.com: Can you chat about helming the new "In Search of Sunrise 19" mix compilation out now on Black Hole Recordings?
Markus Schulz: Yes, the new In "Search of Sunrise" compilation was just released and there’s quite a few of my remixes and originals. As I was working on my The Rabbit Hole Circus album, there were several tracks that just didn’t fit what I was trying to do, and I held them back to include them on this compilation. When I was mixing it, I went back into those projects and modified them so that they fit the mood perfectly.
That’s the beautiful thing about this compilation and the way that I approach it: I try to take each track and modify it to fit the mood of the set and where the song sits in the set. I’m very excited every year to do such a legendary mix series and looking forward to next year’s 20th anniversary edition, which I’m already planning some special things for.
EDM.com: With everything that's happening in the world today, joining with fellow music lovers in a shared, communal experience is more important than ever in uniting us and spreading hope. What motivates and inspires you—as an artist and a performer—so that you have what's needed to be onstage as the master-of-ceremonies? What keeps you going?
Markus Schulz: I think the thing that I’ve always taken onstage with me during these dark days is that somebody out there needs this experience. It doesn’t matter if it’s 50 people in the audience or 50,000 people. Somebody out there needs this experience and I am going to give them the best time of their lives. I’ve always been the type of artist who wants to give people an escape, and these days, the need is stronger than ever. Going up onstage, I feel a sense of purpose and responsibility.