With the upcoming FIRST open to close set by Markus Schulz in Houston, Texas approaching, it is time to review the Open to Close set at Avalon Hollywood February 27-28 that blew my mind. Despite being a fan of the Unicorn Slayer for close to 10 years, this Open to Close experience was my first. Granted not the first time witnessing the man spinning, it was highly anticipated. From the previous reviews from Schulz Army, Trance Family, and Markus himself, missing a night/morning at Avalon Hollywood was not to be missed. As someone who has lived in Arizona for the majority of my life, knowing the history of Markus and Phoenix has been in the back of my mind. The set at Maya Dayclub/Nightclub in Scottsdale, Arizona January 16th was great, and it was ONLY 4 hours, granted Nifra got the party going right away.
After all of the planning, the day finally came to hop on a flight, Uber to the area, and wait for another Schulz Army member to join me. Despite following other groups/artists in the past, the Trance Family really feels like a family. This is has been explained before, so no need to elaborate more. As predicted, the lines began early, and stretched around the blocks surrounding Avalon. The good news was that the wait was relatively short once the doors opened. The night was young, but you could feel the energy in the room already. The Schulz Army and Trance Family were ready to party, and like I make it throughout the journey Markus announced on the microphone. The first couple of hours got the party warmed up, and then you could tell as the club was pretty filled, Markus was ready to take it up a notch.
Markus did NOT disappoint playing some new Coldharbour family tracks mixed in with other favorites produced by the man himself. The aerialists, the distribution of glowsticks, and the fun being had by all throughout Avalon was invigorating. Meeting other family added to the atmosphere along with again consideration by others. Everybody was there to dance and enjoy the music. Yes, there was exhaustion throughout the night, but don’t underestimate the power of drinking water. Obviously, the goal is to stay throughout the night, so once the infamous “Rabbit Hole” was announced by Markus it was time to return to the dance floor after a short break to rest the feet.
Don’t get me wrong, the entire journey musically throughout the night is wonderful, but I FOREVER want to go down the Rabbit Hole with Markus Schulz. Just when you think you can’t continue, another great track is played by Markus giving you another wind to continue. The love of the music and anticipation of what Markus will play next keeps you longing to stay lost in the beats. If you ever have the chance to witness one or more of these legendary Open to Close sets by Markus Schulz, DO IT!
Here’s two hours from his 11 hour open to close set at Avalon Hollywood.
I eagerly gathered alongside hundreds of fellow trance devotees for Coldharbour Night LA last weekend at the acclaimed Avalon Hollywood. It was my first time at the venue after just recently moving to Los Angeles. For those new to the LA club scene like myself, Avalon is known as a historic monument as well as one of the best clubs in the city. Coupled with world-renowned DJs and a spacious dance floor, it’s the perfect spot for electronic music lovers to dance into the wee hours of the night – and Avalon definitely lived up to its reputation.
A little history of the label; Coldharbour Recordings was founded by Markus Schulz in 2005 and has since been at the forefront of electronic music. It represents the deep and somber sound of trance that Markus is known for. The Coldharbour roster boasts some of the best names in the industry, such as Mr. Pit, Mike EFEX and Adina Butar.
First entering Avalon, I was taken by surprise at the sheer size of it. There were multiple bars on all sides of the club to accommodate the high demand for alcoholic drinks. The live music resonated clearly throughout every corner of the building so despite which bar or chill spot you were at, you were sure not to miss a beat. The dance floor was extensive and contained hundreds of happily bouncing people. It didn’t end there. The top floor provided theatre seatings with a perfect balcony view of the entire stage and bottom floor.
Starting the night off, I grabbed a pricey shot of tequila from an inhospitable bartender. I decided to join the dance floor right as Grube & Hovsepian were hitting the decks. The dynamic duo started us off with a low-key progressive set with well dispersed drops. A gradual but perfect beginning to the night.
Next up was the Queen of Coldharbour – Nifra. The energy and the crowd quickly grew as she made her appearance on stage. Her presence was strong but humble. She dropped favored remixes of her own such as Rampage and Erase You, but also mixing in mainstream hits such as Outside by Calvin Harris.
The night quickly shifted when one half of Fisherman & Hawkins, aka Isaac Vissers, took over the decks. He opened with one of my favoritetracks from Markus, Nothing Without Me.
Last but not least, M.I.K.E Push, also known by the aliases Push or Plastic Boy, closed out the night at 4 am. He played a selection of sinister tracks and captivating melodies including Juno, a track onwhich he collaborated with Rank 1, and Replicant by Sean & Xander, which is the first track released under M.I.K.E. Push Studio, his new Coldharbour Recordings sub label.
Overall, the experience was unique in that all of the artists worked in musical harmony. Despite their individual talents, the five DJs came together and unified the club for an unforgettable night. Additionally, the visuals integrated perfectly with the music. Gogo dancers surrounded the dance floor. Co2 blasters synchronized to drops in the music. Intense lasers and glowing neon graphics lit the entire room. The environment of Avalon Hollywood complemented the music making for another successful Coldharbour Recordings Night.
Win a pair of tickets to Coldharbour Night LA plus a meet & greet with Nifra, M.I.K.E. Push, Fisherman & Hawkins and Grube & Hovsepian on Saturday, October 3rd at Avalon Hollywood.
The contest is pretty simple. Each like, follow, tweet gives you an entry into the contest. You don’t have to select them all, it’s just less entries. Contest ends on October 1st and two winners each with a +1 will be chosen at random.
Here’s your chance to win a pair of tickets for you and your friend to experience Coldharbour Night LA with KhoMha, Mr. Pit, Grube & Hovsepian and Adina Butar at Avalon Hollywood on Saturday, March 7, 2015.
The contest is pretty simple. Each like, follow, tweet gives you an entry into the contest. You don’t have to select them all, it’s just less entries. Contest ends on March 4 and three winners will be chosen at random on March 5.
Here’s your chance to win a pair of tickets for you and your friend to experience Coldharbour Night LA with KhoMha, Grube & Hovsepian, Nifra and Omair Mirza at Avalon Hollywood on Saturday, October 11, 2014.
The contest is pretty simple. Each like, follow, tweet gives you an entry into the contest. You don’t have to select them all, it’s just less entries. Contest ends on October 8 and one winner will be chosen at random on October 9.
Here’s your chance to win a pair of tickets for you and your friend to experience Coldharbour Night LA with KhoMha + Grube & Hovsepian and M.I.K.E. at Avalon Hollywood on Saturday, June 7, 2014.
The contest is pretty simple. Each like, follow, tweet gives you an entry into the contest. You don’t have to select them all, it’s just less entries. Contest ends on June 4 and one winner will be chosen at random on June 5.
CONTEST HAS ENDED. Here’s your chance to win a pair of tickets for you and your friend to experience Coldharbour Night in Los Angeles on Saturday, January 18, 2014 with Grube & Hovsepian, Beat Service, M.I.K.E. Push and Klauss Goulart.
The contest is pretty simple. Each like, follow, tweet gives you an entry into the contest. You don’t have to select them all, it’s just less entries. Contest ends on January 13 and one winner will be chosen at random on January 14.
On a Saturday night in Los Angeles Suzanne Welker Jurgens from the Schulz Army had the chance to sit down in the green room at Avalon to talk to Tim Grube, Mike Hovsepian and KhoMha about Coldharbour no longer being under Armada, Coldharbour Nights, the DJ Mag Top 100 poll, kandi bracelets, the EDM explosion and more. Grube & Hovsepian are two of the driving forces at the Coldharbour studios, relative newcomer KhoMha has been KhoMhatizing crowds at every chance.
When a lot of people hear the name Coldharbour they think Markus Schulz but a Coldharbour Night is more than just the Unicorn Slayer. As Mike Hovsepian put it, “The Coldharbour Night concept is basically three acts, Grube & Hovsepian, KhoMha or Beat Service or Mr. Pit.”
“You get the old Coldharbour sound through us opening up the night and it’s just a nice little build throughout the night. And that’s what we do with the formula for Coldharbour Night,” Tim Grube said. “We originally did Dallas but these major cities are nice too. All these cities just blow up, it’s amazing.”
One of the highlights of a Markus Schulz open to close set is the journey he takes the dance floor on by building the night into a mid set and then closing it out and these nights follow the same formula. Grube & Hovsepian open followed by KhoMha and then trance to close the night with Beat Service or Mr Pit.
Heading into 2014 dance music continues to grow in popularity and embrace new audiences, the talk of a bubble that could exist but as Mike Hovsepian says, “Embrace it, live in the moment.”
“If EDM is blowing up in the states it’s a good thing,” Tim Grube said. “Because we’re able to explore other cities that we’ve haven’t been able to before, because it’s been all over the radio and people are getting familiar with the sound. As DJs it’s pretty good. It’s really good for us.”
“We play towns we’d never think about playing three or four years ago, like Fresno which we played with KhoMha and that’s not known for EDM,” said Mike Hovsepian. “Norfolk, we were there. KhoMha is going to be there. These aren’t EDM towns, they’re embracing it, they want it and the promoters are giving it to them.”
We asked Mike Hovsepian about the acronym EDM and he said, “I don’t get why people make it a big deal. So EDM, it’s like Electronic Dance Music. It defines all of the genres. I see people arguing about it saying ‘no it’s trance, don’t call it EDM’. Who cares! It is what it is.”
When speaking about popularity the DJ Mag Top 100 poll immediately comes to mind. Tim Grube spoke about its relevance and he said, “It’s going to be around. It’s not going to end this year, it’s not going to end next year, it is going to be around for a while.”
“I think it is more important to the smaller guys to get voted in,” Mike said. “Because that in effect helps you get booked. Because some promoters do book based off of the DJ mag. I think fans should vote for the smaller guys. Continue to still vote.”
Tim Grube agreed, “Continue to still vote.”
No matter where you live the bookings are often based on the popularity of artists. This could be the DJ Mag rankings but is also based on demands of the fans. It’s important to still vote but Tim Grube adds on, “get on your Twitter, get on Facebook. Just tweet. Tweet your favorite artists and demand them in your city. That works better than DJ mag, in my opinion. It’s the word of mouth and getting it out there on the social networks.”
Mike spoke further saying, “You reach a certain point in your career like Tiësto, Markus, Gareth and Armin and I don’t think it matters anymore to them because they have their fan base. They have their loyal fans.”
Tim added, “It helps certain artists.”
Speaking of asking your local promoters and artists about visiting your city the idea of a Coldharbour Tour has been talked about. Tim and Mike said, “We’ll eventually get there. Maybe do a bus tour.” So if you’d like to see any of these guys in your city take the time to get on Twitter and Facebook and mention it to them and also reach out to your local promoters as well about the idea.
The end of 2013 will continue to be busy for the guys. KhoMha shared the biggest news for himself saying, “Right now I working as well with a big collaboration with one of the biggest trance legends Cosmic Gate, so yeah it’s great.” KhoMha’s track “Hydra” is set to be released this month and he also said, “there is a new Coldharbour release (I can’t tell you the name of course). It’s going to be maybe at the end of the year.”
Grube & Hovsepian recently released their track “Trickster” that rose to number nine on the Beatport charts which was an accomplishment for them. Tim said, “It went in as four or five jumps” Mike added on saying, “80, then 40, then 18, then 14, then 13 and finally nine. I woke up in the morning and logged into Beatport and it was 14 or 13 the night before and I refreshed and it’s like top 10! Woo!”
Markus Schulz is releasing his latest city series compilation titled Buenos Aires ’13 and will feature three Grube & Hovsepian productions. Their own tracks “Trickster” and “Palermo” and the third is “Fair Winds” that they produced with Elevation.
Trickster was also remixed by Italian producer Gai Barone. How did two guys living in Miami connect with someone from Italy to remix a track? Tim Grube explained, “That’s funny we were sitting in the studio and decided that we needed something different. We play a lot of opening sets, like tonight and obviously we cannot play our 132 big room track Trickster. We leave that up to everyone else, even when we do our main headline set. We needed something that is our style that the old Coldharbour fans would love and we could count on Gai Barone because he has been on fire lately. Markus has been supporting his stuff for the past couple of years. There’s a track that just came out from him (Gai Barone remix of Danilo Ercole “Player One”) that we truly love and we wanted that kind of similar sound and he nailed it. It was perfect, it was great package, a big big room, a nice progressive trance track, deep. It worked out.”
Another bit of big news in the second half of 2013 is that after eight years Coldharbour Recordings and Armada Recordings are no longer affiliated. The two had been working together since 2005.
Tim Grube immediately eased concerns saying, “Fans don’t even need to worry, Coldharbour is Coldharbour. It’s still Coldharbour and Markus is still fully behind it. It’s just not Armada.” Tim added on more details saying, “And the thing is that we have to evolve a little bit. We want to do more different things that we weren’t able to do. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. So we wanted to expand a little bit and we were able to do that with Markus. He’s able to make us expand and make us get more on the radio. We want to expand in the states because it is blowing up here. Us taking more control and us having more control over the artists. We had to. It’s not a bad thing that we left. Nothing is going to change from the forefront. It’s just the back end internal stuff. The forefront is not going to change and the quality is still going to stay the same.”
Audio Cargo is another record label that was created in 2013 and Tim explained the label further saying, “It has nothing at all to do with Coldharbour. It’s like Armada vs. Black Hole. It’s totally different. That label Audio Cargo is fueled towards commercial radio tracks, vocals. We just signed a new Jonathan Mendelsohn track that will probably come out the end of September or early October by the Venom One guys. We had our first release which was Memory Lane on there. It’s not something you’ll hear a release from every two or three weeks like Coldharbour. It’s when we have a great great vocal commercial track.”
Markus Schulz has often called KhoMha his little brother from another mother so we asked the guys what they considered him.
Mike Hovsepian said, “His older brother from another mother.” That got some laughs from everyone in the room.
Tim Grube, “He has many different names.”
KhoMha added, “Well you know, Markus is really important person in my life. There is a before and after an Markus in my career. He’s been an inspiration to me. He’s an awesome person with me. He not only supports me as an artist, but always he tries to give me good advice and something like that! He is really great!”
We mentioned what a great experience the Scream Bus Tour must have been and KhoMha added, “Yea, he is one of my biggest inspirations. It’s kind of awesome.”
What are some of the funniest things you’ve seen from the DJ booth?
Mike: Well tonight we just saw three or four guys throwing punches and a guy with a bloody face and security guards breaking it up. There were like five or six security guards.
Tim: Huge fight, right in front of us. We saw him get hit in the face and it was like… oooph! It was bad.
Mike: There was a big brawl out in the middle of the dance floor during one of the tracks. They just dragged them off the dance floor.
Tim: That was the craziest fight. But I think for myself it was when I was with Markus in Bogotá. Some fan took the whole DJ booth and pulled it out into the crowd. He was drunk. But it was the type of booth that was standing still but it went like right into the crowd. That was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.
Mike: KhoMha’s peeps.
Tim: Colombians. They party hard!
What are some of the strangest things you’ve had to autograph?
Tim: What haven’t we autographed.
Mike: Sometimes we feel uncomfortable because they ask you to sign certain places on their body. I’ve never done that. But we’ve been asked to autograph breasts before, butts.
Tim: You do it!
Schulz Army: There was a girl at TAO Beach that was proudly displaying her signature.
Mike: Sometimes those signatures turn into tattoos.
Do you ever compare kandi after the set?
Mike: I wasn’t that big on bracelets, but I’ve embraced it after KhoMha and Tim started wearing them. It’s a good conversation starter. People see you wearing them. They’re like what’s that? Cool!
Tim: I usually wear that (referring to #SchulzArmy), but I left mine at home this time.
But you’ve got the Unicorn Slayer one.
Tim: I always wear that. I wear that every day.
Mike: It’s his good luck charm.
For the last question we asked about the old Markus Schulz pictures that have surfaced from the 1990s and whether they pick on Markus about that or his old remixes. Tim Grube took the reply and said, “We have, but now it’s all out there. So it’s like the joke is like… okay. He always gets a kick out of it when he sees it. The memories that come back, where he’s from and all that. It’s always good to see that type of stuff.”