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Low Expectations Deliver the Best Results for New World Punx

One of the most energetic DJ duos in trance music talk about bringing fun back to the decks and selling out big venues.

Photograph courtesy of Johnny Martin

Without question Markus Schulz and Ferry Corsten are two of the biggest progressive trancers, both having a strong background in DJing and production. Schulz is well known for his darker afterhours inspired beats, while Corsten established himself with more uplifting sounds.

After almost two years, their side project, New World Punx has gone from spontaneous back-to-back club sets to big room productions. Making them a sought after experience by fans across the globe without having any major radio hits like their EDM counterparts.

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NWP came back to Montreal for round two at this year's edition of Bal en Blanc 20 and we caught up with them during this exclusive interview to talk about successes and challenges they have faced in the scene as a pair.

THUMP: Ferry, you just came from Europe and Markus you were just in New York City. How are you guys doing?
Ferry: I could use some sleep. I usually sleep on the plane, but I was working on some new stuff and I couldn't switch off.

Markus: I get that sometimes too. You got the melody in your head as you're trying to sleep, then you get an idea and all of the sudden you get a jolt of energy then it's time to open up the laptop.

Speaking of production, how does the whole process change when you're doing it together as opposed to solo?
F: It goes back and forth; Markus comes up with the ideas and then I feed off it or vice versa. I think these past six months we've really defined what the New World Punx style is.

M: I think the whole NWP project has taken a sound of its own that is very unique to itself and it's different from "Ferry Corsten" and "Markus Schulz." It's really cool because we come up with ideas and we think, "This is a New World Punx idea" where we both contribute to the pot.

So you guys sketch up ideas on your software and then show it to each other?
M: We had a few things floating around our hard drives for about a year that we'll revisit. We've been in the studio in Miami and Rotterdam a couple of times so we have some sketches, then eventually we will get inspired to go back and finish it.

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Photograph courtesy of Johnny Martin

You guys were in Miami for WMC about a month ago.
M: Has it really been a month? [Laughs]

Did you guys get a chance to get together and produce?
F: My Miami trip was pretty easy, actually. I came in on Thursday and I had the Sirius XM event, then on Saturday I was in the studio with Markus. Finally on Sunday I was a mess! [Laughs]

M: He came over and we spent the entire day and well into the late night working together.

Were you guys at the Coldharbour Studio?
M: We actually worked out of my home studio, so it was a little more relaxed and easy-going. Next month I'm going to Europe where I will visit Ferry's studio and work on it a little bit more. We get together when we can find time.

F: It may not necessarily be us working on a new track; we could be working on mash-ups.

So it's never your intention to get into the studio and complete a track, it's more of a "let's see what our ideas are and go from there," state of mind?
M: Yes, that's what it's all about.

F: The fewer expectations we have, the better things turn out. If we don't come up with something that could be a single, we work on a mash-up or some of my tracks. I play it for him and he'll give me feedback.

M: When we do get together we're working on our set. Whether it's a new production for a set, new bootlegs or edits and mash-ups. We will be working on a track of his that we want to play in a set, then we'll work on some tracks of mine, you know, that's how it really goes.

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Photograph courtesy of Johnny Martin

You guys have some experience with break dance and hip-hop, Ferry you did a track with Guru. That music is a little bit different from electronic music, how has that helped shape your careers?
M: Our whole generation was into hip-hop and electro. It was rebellious.

F: It was electronic and rebellious.

M: And it kind of carries over with what is happening in the EDM scene today. It's electronic and it's rebellious. It's just ironic that EDM is rebelling against hip-hop.

Then it sort of mashes together and it becomes trap music.
F: Yes in a way! I am very intrigued by the whole trap thing. I think it's really cool stuff. But if you bombard me with it for like three hours straight, I might get bonkers with it…

M: Unless you are in a strip club! Miami strip clubs play a lot of trap [laughs].

NWP has been together for almost two years now.
M: Has it really been that long? It still feels new! We only do a handful of these every year.

F: This year we have been getting a lot more serious with it. We launched the NWP project at Mansion Miami last year just before we did ASOT in Madison Square Garden. It's a year old now, but before that we were just doing back-to-back sets.

Having said that, you have played some high profile events under the name NWP. Which event stands out in your mind the most?
M: Well, [laughs] there have been many different ones for different reasons. We played in Vancouver for a Halloween event—it was a wild one. But there was also other gig in Ultra Miami where the crowd was fantastic, and also the gigs at Mansion and Palladium.

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F: I was about to say that as well.

M: To sell out a venue like Palladium while not having a hit on the radio nowadays is unheard of. That's what everyone can take from this whole project; that you can sell out big venues without having any airplay on the radio. You don't have to be a pop artist. We do have some stuff that has potential for the radio, but we don't sit there telling ourselves "we need to have a track on the radio!" We're all about making tracks for the clubs, festivals and when you play them while people are climbing up the walls and hanging from the ceiling, it is definitely a good experience.

I remember seeing the live stream from ASOT 650 in Utrecht where the camera was focused on both of you and all the way through you were both smiling and jumping around.
F: Yes that's what it is. We both agree the whole DJing thing has become so stale and all about the ego, more confetti and…

M: More fire! Gotta have fire, nobody can have more fire except us! It's become too serious you know what I mean? We are just trying to go back to having fun.

Photograph courtesy of Johnny Martin

Loosen up a little.
F: Yeah if you loosen up a little, it will definitely translate well to the crowd. But listen, there is still a trial and error period where you play a set and it's the best ever.

M: We've both been DJing for a long time so we can gauge when we need to pick it up and be a little more uplifting, then I might say "no vocal right now, we need to punch them over the head!" We both have that DJ intuition—it's fun.

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What has been the biggest challenge with the NWP project?
M: Trying to keep it unique. We could probably do this 200 times a year but we try to pick the right places because Ferry and I have played at some great places but we need to cap it to keep it special. That's the biggest problem in my opinion. We also don't want to let our promoter friends down.

F: That is definitely the biggest challenge, and another is finding what the added value is where we've played solo or as NWP.

M: Ferry has sold out Ministry of Sound and so have I, but it's difficult to justify playing there as NWP, so we need to go to a place like Brixton Academy.

Can we expect a clash between Dakota and System F?
M: That's the cool thing about this. On one hand you have Dakota and System F, then on the other Markus Schulz and Ferry Corsten. In the middle is New World Punx.

Ani Hajderaj is an advocate of trance and likes soda water follow him on Twitter: @anihajderaj