Inside The Rabbit Hole: Markus Schulz talks 12 hours at Tomorrowland, marathon sets, art of DJing in exclusive interview
Tiesto, Carl Cox, Steve Aoki, Afrojack; each superstar DJ will host their own stage at Tomorrowland on its opening day, each will be supported by sets from roughly ten affiliated artists. Markus Schulz; another veteran heavyweight with his own stage. Supporting acts? Markus Schulz.
From 1pm to 1am, Markus will stand alone at Tomorrowland, manning the decks for a twelve hour marathon set.
This past weekend in Canada, Markus sat down with Dancing Astronaut to open up about his marathon sets, the preparation they entail, and his upcoming 12-hour Tomorrowland outing. Paying homage to the art of DJing, Schulz brings us inside The Rabbit Hole, the segment of his set which he calls his favorite, where everything builds to and where “things get really weird [and] twisted”
Jump below the break and join Markus inside his Rabbit Hole as he reveals all on the marathon DJ set experience.
How did you choose and arrange Tomorrowland to host your own stage for a 12 hour set?
I’ve been doing these marathon sets in select places. It’s one of those things where the vibe has to be right, the logistics have to be right, everything has to be right for me to do one of those long solo sets. Tommorrowland is probably the biggest and most popular festival in the world right now and when they approached me about doing my own stage and doing a solo set I was totally honored. Since this is one of the marquee festivals in the world, I take great pride in being able to host my own stage.
Twelve hours is a long time. What does it take energy wise and how do you prepare for such a set?
It’s an endurance thing, it’s almost like running a marathon. You have to train yourself, mentally and physically. When I’m doing these long sets I don’t drink any alcohol, I drink some iced tea to keep caffeine flowing and water. This is going to be the first time I’m doing one of these outdoors, and I know that it gets really hot, so the heat is going to be the biggest obstacle. That’s how you really prepare, try and stay fit, don’t party, and the night before really try and get yourself mentally and physically ready as well. It’s leading up to the event that’s the most important.
You’ve played marathon sets before…
New Year’s Eve I did 13 hours in Los Angeles, last night I did 9 hours at Guvernment in Toronto. There’s only a few places in the world where I feel comfortable doing these events at, and Tomorrowland is definitely one of them.
What is “The Rabbit Hole” and how did the concept come to be?
When I do these long sets, the cool thing is in a club starting off at 9pm or midnight, by the time 7 – 8 in the morning comes around, I call it The Rabbit Hole. It’s where things get really weird, things get really twisted. I play a lot of stuff that people would never expect, but at that time of the night people want stuff to surprise them. To me that’s the favorite time of the night, everything builds up to — The Rabbit Hole part. The fans are amazing, that’s what it comes down to, it’s all about the fans, they are all so passionate and supportive of this concept.
How did you get into the idea of playing sets of such length?
Musically that’s also challenging. Before I got famous I was a resident DJ and I’d play every Friday and Saturday nights either seven or eight hours. For many resident DJs out there this is very normal. I take my hat off to all the resident DJs out there. For me it’s about the art of DJing, and that’s where you really get to show the art of DJing is on those long sets like that.
How do you musically navigate a twelve hour set?
Musically I do a proper opening set, I have my own opener, I’ll do a nice two hours of what I wish a DJ would do for me. After that I go into more peak stuff, twist around and play all this stuff that everybody would expect to hear me play, all the anthems. And then… then we start getting into The Rabbit Hole. The Rabbit Hole is a lot of fun. I’ll get in The Rabbit Hole and sometimes I’ll stay down there the rest of the time, or other times I’ll kind of come out into some classics. It’s all about a proper DJ journey and the art of DJing.