Tag Archives: #Dakota


Now that dust has just settled on a spectacular edition of Amsterdam Dance Event, we are proud to share with you our interview with the legendary Markus Schulz; a really interesting chat about all the insights of the new album ‘We Are The Light’, with some juicy info about the collaborations, the stories behind some of the tunes and much more.

Curious yet? Let’s check it all out HERE:

Listening, it’s hard to envisage, but Markus Schulz’s most “up” album to date – originated from a remarkably dark place. With his seventh long-player on full release this week, the DJ / Producer / Songwriter took the opportunity to share insights into the album’s production path and what lay in its bedrock.

I’m a believer in having to hit bottom first before climbing back up Markus says. It’s a truism, but it’s also, I find, generally the case. It was around the time of the tragic events that unfolded in Las Vegas last October that Markus felt that nadir had finally been reached. 

I’ve always been very upfront about how mood influences the direction my music. In that respect it’s both a resource and outlet. I’m incredibly lucky that, over many a year now, the audience has come, not only anticipate this, but – as often – to embrace it.

So really “We Are The Light’ is equal parts rally cry to them and myself.”


In this respect Las Vegas proved again to be the backdrop for another pivotal moment for Markus. This time though it was 2018’s EDC. This year there was a sense of resilience and defiance there. Absolutely you could feel it. A real air of determination amongst EDC’s audience, he says; people feeling that they weren’t going to be cowed or made to feel afraid, you know’. That was an incredibly transitional set and experience for me. And that’s where the direction of this album really took its biggest cue from”. 

My state of mind now is that we have to believe we’re starting to turn a corner in order to actually get into the turn. We should be the ones that make the changes first. We (the electronic music community) are the light that the world needs right now. I think it’s time we – for lack of a better expression – ‘stepped up’. It’s time we showed the world how it could all be”.

“The last Dakota album was written from the standpoint of how I saw things at the time. ‘Watch The World’, in hindsight, was more observatory and third person. This one though is written from what I see as a shared collective perspective & experience between the fans and myself. We are the positivity that the world needs. Ultimately what I want is for people to feel good after listening to this album. To spark a greater sense of positivity; to empower in someway. I really see our community as a microcosm of what could ‘be’ with the world. In a way we are a poster child for a better way of being. If we could in some way harness the sense of community & its positivity and catalyse it beyond our bounds, it would give electronic music a legacy so, so much bigger than it even is now.”

You watch the new single’s official video here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyNGpo75yFo) and pre-order Markus Schulz’s luminously produced new artist album ‘We Are The Light’ here (https://markusschulz.choons.at/wearethelight).

01: Markus Schulz – The Awakening
02: Markus Schulz & Omnia featuring Seri – Road Of No Return
03: Markus Schulz & Alina Eremia – You Light Up The Night
04: Markus Schulz featuring Nikki Flores – We Are The Light
05: Markus Schulz – Heaven
06: Markus Schulz & Lachi – Far
07: Markus Schulz & Jared Lee – Together
08: Markus Schulz & Smiley – The Dreamers
09: Markus Schulz – Flight of the Phoenix
10: Markus Schulz & Soundland – 51°11′17″N 10°3′10″E  (We Haven’t Lost Our Way)
11: Markus Schulz & JES – Calling For Love
12: Markus Schulz & Adina Butar – Breathe Me To Life
13: Markus Schulz & Emma Hewitt – Safe From Harm
14: Markus Schulz & Christina Novelli – Symphony of Stars
15: Markus Schulz & Jared Lee – Utopia
16: Markus Schulz featuring Sebu (Capital Cities) – Upon My Shoulders

More info available on Markus Schulz through the resources below:




“Not so straightforward, is it?” observes Markus. Both generally and rhetorically, he’s passing comment on life. However, in the closing weeks of 2017 & opening months of 2018, he could as easily be talking about the ‘how’, ‘what’ & ‘why?’ of Dakota’s stage show and its December-released 18-track LP companion, The Nine Skies.

Dakota has had its spiritual side from the off. The first and second ‘Thoughts Become Things’ albums were the pathfinders for this new, and possibly most definitive of Dakota projects. These releases were measures deployed to see if electronic music’s citizenry were receptive to something deeper and more involved.

Word back from the ‘Thoughts’ generation was: “ready”.

The tipping point for The Nine Skies’ didn’t occur however until last year, and the aftermath of the attack on Florida’s Pulse nightclub. “The final spur in the side”, was how Markus saw it at the time. “All the shit that’s happened after that has really changed things, but somehow that all seemed to start with Pulse. It just devastated me. Shook me to my core. It woke me up to the idea that, in general, we’re not on the right path. I believe to get us back there, to turn things around, anyone who is able has to do their bit. The Nine Skies is me trying to do mine in really the only way I know how”.


In respect of ‘The Nine Skies’, Markus’ own awakening started predominantly through books. “I started reading, he says, like a lot!” “At home, in hotel lobbies, on flights, in the studio.I’ve always had a lingering interest in spirituality and the desire to make some sense of life. It’s something I share with people that are close to me. We like to chat about the nature of things like dharma, prajna, true-self – all that stuff. It is how – over time – the ‘Skies’ came into being.


Markus has always seen Dakota not as an alias but as a persona – an identity even. “Sometimes I’m wearing Dakota’s head; other times it’s Markus Schulz’s, he says. Through that division, I’ve found the artistic space to make darker, moodier, deeper music. More exploratory and experimental gear… if that’s where my current state of mind is taking me.


Atypically, the entire The Nine Skies project – concept, show, album, et al, was wrapped and complete before but a word of it was breathed. “This, expands Markus, gave me an opportunity I’d not had before. It gave me a chance to shake up my usual release pattern. So in keeping with the progressive spirit of The Nine Skies/steps, rather than coming with dozens of shows and an album’s worth of new material frontend, I brought it one stage and single at a time. I felt it would give the audiences more time to digest and absorb what is undeniably a broader concept”.

Markus considers that if there’s one thing enlightenment does take, it’s time. ”Rarely, if ever, in life does something happen overnight”, he says. The release of the album’s first four singles was designed to reflect one of the possible journey arcs from darkness to enlightenment. That started with early-in-the-album track, ‘Mota Mota’ and ended with its penultimate one, ‘Spirit of the Warrior’. “It arches from one of the most ominous darkly-minded, night-black numbers I’ve written to possibly Dakota’s most uplifting, emancipating moment ever”, says Markus.

The underlying theme of each of the 18 tracks on the album broadly falls into one of the Skies’ nine realms. “That, cautions Markus, is not something that’s going to be immediately apparent the first time you listen to it. Give it time though, and over subsequent spins I think, you’ll get an ever-greater feel for the transitional passage the album is taking. From Sky.One’s The Follower, transcending right the way over to the ninth Sky: Nirvana.” 

Dakota’s extraordinary The Nine Skies LP will be released through Coldharbour Recordings on December 8th. You can pre-order it through the following link: markusschulz.choons.at/thenineskies. Dakota adherents can also look forward, in the not too distant future to the The Nine Skies box set. This very special limited edition audio-visual release will include the DVD of Markus’ performance of The Nine Skies at Prague’s O2 Arena, as part of the Transmission 2017 event.

The Nine Skies tracklist:

01. The Nine Skies Intro
02. Bravo on the Go
03. Follow Me
04. Mota-Mota
05. Who Are You
06. Searching
07. Running Up That Hill
08. Eve’s Doorway
09. Edonismo
10. Kismet
11. The Way It Is
12. Cafe Del Mar
13. The Master
14. Carbonado
15. In Search of Something Better
16. Future Shock
17. The Spirit of the Warrior
18. The Ninth Sky

More info on Markus Schulz, Dakota and ‘The Nine Skies’ available, via the online resources below:





“It’s just over a year since I put out ‘Watch The World’. To many – myself included, 12 months on our planet feels like a very different place. Real world events have always had an impact on Dakota’s mind and reflectively guided its production hand. Never to this level or degree though. The ‘Skies’ in the title are my interpretation of the steps to enlightenment. The Nine Skies objective is, in someway or other, to make a difference. What I want to illustrate through the show, its music and its message is that while times may feel dark, we are anything but lost. There’s always a path to light.” 
 With these deep words in mind, we are really thrilled to ask Markus more about The Nine Skies creative process and what he has in store for us now!
TBA: Would you tell us who is Markus and who is Dakota? And what are you trying to communicate your audience under these names ?

MS: I guess the best way to define each is to think of Markus Schulz as the extrovert and Dakota as the introvert.

I like to imagine the Markus Schulz productions as being about and for the fans. It is based on my interaction with them and what I see.

Through the Markus Schulz productions, I can express myself through an array of options – through inspiring melodies, written words into song and collaborating with others, and learning from them.

With Dakota however, it is something much deeper within my conscience, and requires the right setting and circumstances in order to be creatively resonating.

TBA: Your new project The Nine Skies was kinda big deal for us as fans, what did it mean to you personally and how did you come up with the idea?

MS: It was the most soul churning project I have ever undertaken in my career.

The Nine Skies was a year in the making. When I started touring the Watch the World album, there was a lot of tragedy in the world, and everyone felt a sense of unknown and fear due to everything that was happening, politically or otherwise.

When the mass shooting happened at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, it absolutely shook me to my core, that something so
terrible could happen in an environment that I could well have been in myself; and in a city very close to home in Miami.

At that point, I pretty much went dark on a personal level on social media, and left my team to get the word out about upcoming gigs and releases – because to me, I couldn’t feel comfortable with embracing this party and good vibes atmosphere when the world around us was suffering
every day.

I did a lot of reading and studying in my downtime, taking on board a lot of Reiki influences. The story of a person finding themselves as a lost soul, but find the right pieces to set themselves on the journey towards enlightenment is something that essentially applies to my own life, and something I hope that can inspire others as well.


TBA:  Which one of these Nine Steps to enlightenment was the one who really forced you to look inside yourself?

MS:  I don’t know if it was one particular step, but it was more a case of figuring out how to represent this path towards enlightenment as a complete story.

Originally, when I thought about the concept of a full
Dakota show, it was going to be all out techno – imagine 90 minutes of music with the core sounding like Mota-Mota for instance.

But when examining each step, I knew that this wouldn’t be the correct approach.

So in the beginning, we are lost souls, and in many cases, we feel sadness and anger. And in order to proceed the journey from this phase, we need help and guidance. Therefore the beginning of the show is very techno driven with militant style percussion. But as we transition into the later skies, the melodies and tones begin to brighten, towards the culmination in the final sky – the nirvana.

TBA:  Did this project change you somehow?

MS: If anything, it made me a lot more emotional. I cannot tell you the number of nights I wound up in tears as a result of working on this entire process.

The Nine Skies makes me think about my overall legacy more. And my hope is that people can look at this album and treat it almost as if it’s a self-help book of guidance, whether it’s this year, next year, or 50 years down the line.

TBA:  Can you also tell me something about your Watch the World album’s creative process?

MS: Working on Watch the World as a project was an enormous challenge for me because of stepping very much out of my comfort zone, and delving deeply into the world of songwriting for the first time.

It was actually a revisit to days of my youth in school, where I excelled at creative writing, and the teachers would encourage me to try it as often as possible. But in those teenage days, my heart had been set on chasing the dream of becoming a DJ. It meant that I slowly drifted away from the writing aspect, and along with DJing, finding gratification in playing with synthesisers and turning knobs.

But with the sixth album on the horizon at that point in time, I needed something beyond the music, and it was writing words based on what I felt on the inside. I felt it was risky at first, but thanks to the overwhelming response towards Destiny, based on a story about my personal circumstances and relationship, it gave me confidence to explore this songwriting path further.

TBA:  How do you deal with your success? And what is your relationship with social media ?

MS: It’s fine. At the end of the day I’m just a normal person like everybody else. I never got into this business for the fame of it or winning awards.
People who come to the shows will know how much I value the support, and make every effort possible to spend time afterwards with them and give my thanks for coming out.

Social media has huge positives for DJs, along with every other public figure, because it gives you a window to show that you acknowledge and care about the support of your fans. And I think most fans nowadays are smart enough to figure out whether there is a genuine warmth and care about this connection. My golden rule in life is that no matter what
happens or what privileged position you end up in, always and forever remain humble. And that was reinforced further when reflecting and contemplating towards what The Nine Skies would become.

I remember a few years ago when my brother was in a really bad car accident in Germany, and ended up in a coma for 10 days. At the time it happened, I was in South Korea, and was about to tour India for a week.
And honestly, I felt so incredibly alone and afraid. However, when I wrote on social media about what had occurred, having the sympathy and appreciation of the fans genuinely helped me get through it.

TBA: What is inspiring you most of late?

MS: I say this often but it’s the next wave of producers taking Coldharbour by storm that are my biggest inspiration. We have such a healthy and broad-ranging roster right now.

You have Nifra who is the flagbearer for females in trance; Arkham Knights are tearing things up with this tech-trance fusion they have going, Solid Stone is one of the biggest contributors to the progressive scene right now, and you have guys like Anske who are slowly carving out a sound in
their own right.

Helping this talents grow and achieve their own dreams is one of the biggest achievements I can speak of.

TBA:  Any new projects in store for us anytime soon?

MS: My priority right now is finalising The Nine Skies album as Dakota, which I am hoping to be able to put out around shortly before this year’s ADE.
But if you have been following my travels closely, you will have guessed that I am already planning my output for next year, and you will have seen the photos of me working in the studio with the likes of Nadia Ali.

I can’t say too much for now, so let’s keep the focus almost entirely on The Nine Skies album, but know that there is something new on the horizon to come afterwards.

TBA: Your music is always evolving but also true to itself. What is your secret?

MS: Ultimately, you have to put your heart into absolutely everything you do – whether it’s the productions, the DJ sets, Global DJ Broadcast or anything
else. If you are making or indeed playing music that you don’t enjoy, you will burn out very quickly in this scene.

There are so many talented people in this industry who don’t make it or catch that essential break, meaning that they have to give up their dream and secure a different job to support themselves and their family.

So I take absolutely none of this for granted. Of course there are many sacrifices in your life you have to make along the way, but I count my blessings every day in the knowledge that I am one of the very few lucky ones who gets to do what they love for a living.

What’s interesting is that because of the big EDM explosion in this decade, there has been a huge influx of new talent thrust into the rigours of touring.  And many of them say to me “this is too tough, I’ll do this for a few years, make my money and get out”, but for me I want to keep going as long as my health allows.

TBA: The first thing you think when you go on stage?

MS: Strive to perform at your absolute best and embrace all of the fans who have worked all week and paid their money towards something they have looked forward to.

TBA:  And the first thing you think when you leave the stage?

MS:  It depends. One of the best sources in finding inspiration towards creating new melodies is while I am on stage performing, because of the passion and emotion you are feeding off the audience.

On a lot of occasions, the goal once I finish a set and say my goodbyes at the club is to get back to the hotel, open the laptop and map out a rough sketch of what is in my head, before forgetting about it.

Other occasions can be different. I am guilty of overanalysing my performance sometimes, so I can mentally beat myself up if the flow or journey of a set wasn’t what I was hoping for.

After the first performance of The Nine Skies at Dreamstate in San Francisco, I sat backstage for a long time in silence not speaking to anyone, because of the heaviness involved in the project coming to life.

TBA:  One of my favorite albums of all times is Do You Dream… I remember that summer I was in Ibiza and came to your show at Amnesia and you blew my mind. After that I went straight to buy your album… you got my soul from that moment, I would love to know what inspired you.

MS: That’s very kind of you to say. Well, throughout my childhood, I found life very difficult and uncertain.

What was my purpose in this world?

The simple truth is, discovering and falling in love with music saved me. I cannot speak highly enough about how beautiful a medium radio is, because it’s always there for you no matter what time of day or not, and you don’t even have to say hello or goodbye.

When I found myself immersed in the breakdancing scene, and arranging parties among friends, the one epiphany moment was the night we hired a venue in a hotel, and I wound up DJing the entire evening. I knew then definitively that this was what I was put on this earth to do, and I would endure every struggle just to achieve this dream.

When Do You Dream came around, if my career had ended before then I would have been happy.

So my mantra at that point became, if you have fulfilled the ultimate dream you had, do you still dream?

The fact I am still going and doing my absolute best towards establishing a legacy will tell you the answer.


TBA:  The funniest episode that happened to you on tour?

MS: That would be the time I ended up in jail at an airport.

As many of you will understand, the most demanding tour schedule for DJs always occurs during the summer months.

I think this took place in 2010. I had one of those crazy 24 hour stretches where I played three gigs in three different countries.

I started playing the closing set at a gig in Barcelona; then it was straight to the airport for the Netherlands, where
I played late afternoon at Dance Valley.

The final gig was in Glasgow, but there was a problem with my immigration papers when landing. So I ended up being detained at the airport – put handcuffs on and everything. Eventually the problem was resolved, but the delay meant I had to go straight to the club and perform. I was so deliriously tired by the end of it, but I look back and think how funny the whole experience was.  Sadly they didn’t let me keep the handcuffs.

TBA:  Tell me a secret about yourself 🙂

MS: I have a fear of heights! Which I know sounds absolutely crazy when you consider how my hours of my life I spend on planes. But it has been something I have lived with all my life. There was a gig in Poland many years ago where I came to the venue, and the stage was so high that I couldn’t climb the ladder and play my set. So from that point onwards I
have to ensure that for any gig I am booked for, I have to know the height of the stage beforehand so I can determine whether or not I’ll be able to do it.


TBA: Thanks a lot Markus for taking the time to chat with us and hope to see you soon!!

Let’s grab Running Up That Hill and  Mota-Mota !!



More info about Markus Schulz: