Trance icon Markus Schulz steps into the Versus campaign with his Ten Greatest Trance Records of All Time
As the versus campaign heats up, we're bringing in a figurehead for each genre to tell you the ten essential records in their field to get you on their team. We're very excited to announce that our spokesman for trance in none other than legendary DJ, producer and label boss, Markus Schulz.
Markus is renowned for his marathon sets (some lasting up to 11 hours), an impressive body of solo work, being one half of super group New World Punx, founding and heading up influential trance label Coldharbour Recordings and being a resident at The Gallery. So we really couldn't think of anyone better to take us on a journey through the Greatest Trance Record of All Time.
Take it away Markus!
Cass & Slide - "Perception"
Markus Schulz: Perception reminds me so much of my two year sabbatical in London, around the turn of the millennium. After seven years as a weekly resident at The Works in Phoenix, the club closed, and my frustrations with the scene almost forced me to quit entirely. So I made the difficult decision to leave my family and move to London; hoping to rediscover who I was musically.
Along with living on Coldharbour Lane in Brixton and taking in influences from various producers working in their studios around me, I would regularly attend nights at Turnmills and Ministry of Sound, to see the big international DJs perform.
Out of all of the influences, the one track which resonated with me the deepest was "Perception". A year later, when they added Naimee Coleman’s vocals to the track, it solidified as an all time favorite for me - the one tune I wish I could have made myself. And fortunately, I had the opportunity to pay tribute to the original with my own version on the Do You Dream album, featuring the amazing Justine Suissa on vocals.
The lyrics are so incredibly moving and powerful - “rise up together” is a slogan I think we can all live by.
Jam & Spoon - Stella
For many, Stella will resonate as their first encounter with what became trance music. It was one of the most important moments in the genre, and is a testament to how influential Jam & Spoon were to the scene.
You could play "Stella" in any setting, at any time of day, and it would be no less inspiring. Quite simply, it is a standout track which made me fall in love with the melodies that trance is known for.
For the readers who have discovered any form of electronic music in the past five years or so, I would highly encourage you to seek out "Stella" and let it immerse your soul. It will still be inspiring people in 50 years time.
Rank 1 - "Breathing" (Airwave)
It most likely remains the greatest ever trance track using pads as the melody. Many will hold attachment to the original, because it was such a massive New Year's Eve track for the Millennium. For me, it came at a time where I was trying to reinvent myself, and was pivotal in drawing my attention to the power of emotion in melodies.
A few years after the original came out, I moved back to Miami and became a weekly resident at Space, and at around the same time, "Airwave" became "Breathing", and had the amazing breaks mix included. I must have played that in nearly every Space gig.
Fast forward several years later, and the BBC invited me to perform my first ever studio Essential Mix, which was a huge honor. One of the ways I wanted to make the set memorable was to pick an iconic track and give it my own remix, and it ended up being "Airwave".
Around a year later, I met Benno de Goeij at Armin van Buuren's wedding, and asked him if he could send the "Breathing" vocal. So from that point on, it has become a signature moment in my own sets, particularly the open-to-close solo sets and the special annual arena shows.
Energy 52 - "Cafe Del Mar"
When we reflect on the important foundation layers that built the scene we are privileged to enjoy, the magical island of Ibiza is near the top of the list. And if you had to summarise Ibiza's hedonistic influence, it can be summed up by "Cafe Del Mar".
If it doesn't hold the record for the most played and remixed track in trance, then it must be very close. I have been very lucky through my residencies at the likes of Amnesia to have evoked memories for fans and myself due to the track's history.
A great original, and a great Nalin & Kane remix to back it up (I could have easily included their remix of Lustral - "Everytime" in this list too).
Sasha - "Xpander"
With all the modern day talk of genre-blurring, "Xpander" did just that back in the late 90s. The trance guys loved it and the progressive guys loved it too. Sasha was a massive influence for me as I was starting out as a producer and the "Xpander" vinyl quickly became one of the most cherished items in my collection.
I love everything about it - the journey, the progression, the melody - even the cover art. I know many producers who began their career post-Millennium, and cite "Xpander" as the primary reason behind their passion.
It's one of those tracks I love to have in reserve and bring it out for special studio and live sets.
Push - "Universal Nation"
M.I.K.E. Push is someone I have admired for many years, because of his ability to continually evolve and remain an important production figure in the industry today. He will be forever remembered for "Universal Nation" as much as anything else.
It's dark, hypnotising and builds to euphoria, and had great remixes from the likes of my good friend Ferry Corsten to back up the original. Quite rightly, it still features in sets today.
Airwave - "When Things Go Wrong"
Laurent is deservedly regarded as one of the production maestros of our scene, and there are so many tracks under his plentiful aliases which have made an impact. But the one that stands out for me the most is "When Things Go Wrong".
The track provides such a beautiful and tender moment in a set, and is always one I seek to play in the long sets where the vibe is magical. On many occasions, it has acted as the perfect end of the night tune. Trance at its most emotive.
Three Drives - "Greece 2000"
"Greece 2000" is one of those tracks which links my journey from Phoenix to London, and then on to Miami and touring internationally. I remember having to buy the vinyl when I was abroad, and it became a big anthem in the final nights of The Works. Even a few years after it was released, and when I was living in London attending the clubs and seeing the big international DJs at the time, it was still an essential for them.
The track is forever connected to my relationship with The Gallery, because I actually played the original as the final track of my last ever set at Turnmills; before the venue closed and they moved to Ministry of Sound. It's nice to bring it out now and again for the long Ministry of Sound nights.
Markus Schulz - "The New World"
My association with the Transmission extravaganza in Prague continues to be one of the most important aspects of my career development. It has grown from humble beginnings to now standing as the leading arena event anywhere in the world for trance. The uniquely special aspect about the show is that there is just one room and one stage, which means everyone coming to the event is projecting their attention towards you.
Back in 2008, the folks at United Music approached me with the idea of creating an official theme song for the event, and that track turned out to be "The New World". I'm hesitant to include one of my own tracks in this list, but the track deeply resonated with the Eastern European trance community, and because of that I am eternally grateful.
Prague may act as the epicentre, but a track like "The New World" helped unite the Czech locals with fans travelling from Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and many more surrounding countries.
Elevation - "Biscayne"
"Biscayne" is undoubtedly one of the greatest and proudest moments which have emanated from my Coldharbour Recordings label. Elevation's ability to create breathtaking melodies would leave thousands of producers jealous.
It took him around 18 months to complete, but when he put the pieces together the end product was incredible. I played it in every single one of my sets for over a year before we released it to the public, and the anticipation and affection from the fans was enormous.
For me, "Biscayne" will be fondly remembered as one of trance's all-time highlights.