Schak Interview: "This was one of the hardest tracks I’ve ever had to write"

We caught up with Schak to chat all about his new Wim Hof remix on Trick, the Makina Subgenre, working with Patrick Topping and Trick, and what the rest of the year holds. Read what he had to say below!

Thomas Hirst

Date published: 4th Mar 2024

Over the past 12 months, few DJs have had a meteoric rise like the Geordie sensation that is Schak. With a catalogue of tunes that delves into cult genres (most notably the niche North East staple of Makina), an undeniable presence and charm both behind the decks and away from them, and a fair few wicked releases of his own; Schak has firmly cemented himself in the spotlight.

2023 saw Schak rack up over 18 million Spotify streams on his first-ever release; head out to Ibiza for the first time and get to play on the same bills as genre greats Calvin Harris and MK; and even play in front of tens of thousands during a match at his hometown Newcastle's stadium St James Park. 

Now in 2024, with a remix of the Wim Hof and Gavin Koolmon track 'Transmission - Love' on his native label Trick just out, we caught up with Schak to chat all about the new single, the Makina Subgenre, working with Patrick Topping and Trick, and what the rest of the year holds. Read what he had to say below!



Hi Schak! We’re here talking about your new remix on Trick with Wim Hof and Gavin Koolmon, a track called ‘Love’. What can you tell us about the track? And how did the remix first come about? 

"So I was in a train station last year, I can't remember where, and texted us saying: ‘Hi, mate. I'm not sure if you're aware, but Wim Hof is doing a track with Gavin Koolmon from Disciples and it's been done on Trick, I would love for you to remix it because you introduced me to Wim Hof. So I think it would be right that you do.'

"Honestly, I was shocked. One, because it's very unorthodox for what Wim's done thus far, and two because I'm a huge fan of Wim's and he means quite a lot to me. But I thought the track was great, so I was like, yeah, I'd love to.

"He wanted a club version that we could play out, so he sent over the stems and I started on an idea."


You mention there that Patrick wanted you to remix as you introduced him to Wim Hof, you’re quite clearly a huge fan of his, what was it like working on something of his like this track?

"This might sound like mad to anybody who's reading, but maybe not if you're an artist. This was one of the hardest tracks I’ve ever had to write. 

"Because it's got Wim's vocals on it, and because Wim means so much to me, as he literally changed my life, and he's such a special, amazing human, I felt like I had to translate his message correctly. 

"Now, again for those who are reading who don't know, Wim's journey began when his wife tragically took her own life, he wanted to understand what would make a person do this and started his journey, changing the world and helping people with mental health and mindset. 

"So for me, I have to do it right and translate his message. So I needed to write something emotive but then clubby at the same time, which is why it is kind of Trancey because I think Trance is the genre that blends those two things."



You can feel that personal connection there within the track. I do love that you’ve made it more Trancey as it really fits the vibe, the extended version especially, with those chords at the start and the monologue over it, it’s proper special.

"Thank you, mate.

"It’s like I was just saying, I was finding it hard to relate his message correctly, and that theatrical introduction on the extended version was something I created to purposefully translate the emotive message behind Wim’s words.

"So that's why there are two different versions of it. There's the normal radio edit, you could call it, but the extended is the one that I love because I love those chords you mention. 

"I actually wrote them last year and they were just sitting in my folder and I was like, I'm going to overlay these and see if it can work, and it did, I was so happy about that. "


Have you managed to meet or get in contact with Wim yet? 

"No, not yet, unfortunately.

"I don't know if you know, but over in Poland, maybe once or twice a year, he does a camp where you pay, you go over and it's like a work and camp thing over a weekend. I think he only does it in the winter when it's cold. 

"So I do want to go over and do that eventually. 

"However, when I was submitting the remix, I wrote a massive letter to his team, even though his son runs most of his business, as I just wanted to let his family know how important it is to me that I've been asked to do this."


Image: Schak on Facebook

Moving on from the remix, for those who don't know you’re one of the few DJs on the planet who is championing the niche subgenre, Makina. For those who don't know what Makina is, could you give us an overview and a bit of history? 

"So Makina is a hardcore genre that comes from Spain, originating in Barcelona. 

"Basically what happened was there was a guy called DJ Scott, who flew over to Barcelona -  remember at this time, this was before MP3s and CDs were just coming through - and imagine this right, you go to a record shop, and you find loads of amazing music on vinyl you've never heard before. 

"Imagine that, right? 

"So he brought all these records back and started playing them in the clubs in Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland, and we just really just took it under our wing, and it's become a part of the subculture of the North East. 

"Makina, if I'm being pedantic, the genre is from Spain, but if you're from the North East and you refer to Makina, it's actually a myriad of different genres.

"So you've got Makina which is the Spanish stuff; Euro Dance, which is the Italian stuff; you've got German Hard Trance; and there's some stuff from Japan as well, I've never heard of a term to describe what that is, but we would just call it Makina. So it's more like a bunch of genres under one umbrella.

"It's part of the subculture I was brought up on, everybody was playing it, we had cars driving past playing it out the windows, people at school were playing it, it was entrenched in our neighbourhoods and it's become a part of the DNA of the North East."


It must be fun to be so clued up on a genre that isn’t as widely known, it’s quite a rare thing nowadays, what’s it like seeing people's reaction to it when they’ve never heard it before?

"I love playing Makina to people who've never heard it before. 

"I've got two good friends of mine who are really big producers in the Netherlands, and they had never heard of it before and had come across it through one of my sets. 

"Bear in mind, that these guys have been touring the world for over ten years. So I sent them my entire library and went, have a listen to these. 

"It's such a gift to show someone music they've never heard before. Because you know what? I'll never forget that feeling when I used to go into a nightclub and hear music I'd never heard before in the dark.

"That emotion and essence that you get when you first hear certain music for the first time, it lives inside your soul forever. Some of my favourite records are so because of the first time I heard them. It's just such a beautiful gift and to do that for them was amazing. 

"But to be fair, if you break down the tunes from a musical perspective, some of the melodies that have been written are fantastic, and I do feel that some of the producers and writers, because it's a niche hardcore genre, never got the credit that they deserve."


Image: Schak on Facebook

You mention that Makina producers haven’t got their fair dues. With that in mind is there anyone that you would point to? Say someone's heard Makina in a club and wants to delve deeper into it, who should they go and listen to?

"This isn’t a definitive list, these are just some of my personal favourites. So, there's Skudero, He wrote a lot of stuff under the label Pont Aeri, which was a nightclub in Barcelona where this music actually came from. They've got loads of, like, I'm not going to call them albums, but they did, like, volumes of releases so you can find a lot of stuff from there.

"But if anyone just types in Makina on YouTube, you can do some exploring and you might find some music that you like."


Whilst we're on Makina, will we ever see a comeback of Nanna Makina?

"I get asked this all the time haha!

"All I'm going to say is, if Moses could part the sea, then anything's possible."


Image: Nanna Makina on Facebook

I’d love to talk to you a bit about Trick, it seems a great thing to be a part of at the minute, with so many artists smashing it. How did your and Patrick's relationship first come about?

"So me and Patrick first met in 2011 at an after-party. 

"He used to run his own event in Newcastle called Motion, and I was actually at another event afterparty, sitting in a room full of people I didn't know, and he went out of his way to talk to us.

"We got chatting and we found out we were both lifeguards,  and he told me I should get down to his event sometime. 

"Anyway, I hadn't seen him for like four or five months, right? Then he was doing an event at Digital in Newcastle and I was walking in and he was walking out, and he remembered my face and he went, oh, I'm doing an event upstairs if you want to come. 

"I always remember that, as he just went out of his way to be nice when he didn't have to be. He's just a really nice person and then he's got such a pure soul. 

"So we knew of each other for a long time, but around the same time I started doing the Nana Makina stuff -  which he loved because he likes Makina too - he was doing Trick night in Newcastle, and he invited us and put us on his guest list.

"I came down he gave us ten minutes of his undivided attention. I said like, look, I'm working on some music that I think you might be interested in, Ben Hemsley said to send it to you. Can I send it? He went, yeah, of course, I want to hear all your music. 

"So I sent him like eight tracks and it was like a week later, he was playing Mint Club, and I got a voice message and he was just like; I played three tracks and there were the highlight of my set. I'd love to sign them to Trick. 

"I just couldn't believe it, and it all started from there really."


Trick also just seems like a proper family, with everyone being so supportive of each other, is that the case and how much of that is down to Patrick?

"It is, and it's all down to Patrick because he is just such a kind-hearted person, and he's got good people around him. 

"There's no red tape or politics. He's just a loving person and he's got such a good soul, and he just wants to help people, and I love that so much about him. 

"Like I say, he's like Willy Wonka to me. He changed my life and gave us a golden ticket.

"It's a privilege to be able to call him a friend, and it's a privilege to spend time with him because he's a good person with a good soul.

"He's a great artist too, he’s got a a great ear. I'm telling you now, I've heard many tunes that he's picked out before everybody started playing them.

"Every time I watch him DJ, it’s like I’m back in school, I always look at what's he doing, how he mixes, what's he picking, and stuff like that. 

"I'm really looking forward to the set he’s doing with Solomun this year at Creamfields because I think that's great for him and he loves the challenge."


Image: Schak on Facebook

It feels like it's becoming quite a northern powerhouse of a brand as well, and bringing up a lot of big northern producers completely outside of a scene that has in the past been quite London-centric.

"I remember Danny Howard said in an interview, He was like; 'I'm sure Patrick Topping's got this secret warehouse in Newcastle where he's just pumping out all these producers.'

"Because, if you actually think about it, right, he's brought through Ben Hemsley, Hannah Laing, Ewan McVicar, Myself. Do you know what I mean?"


For sure, Is there anyone kind of, at the minute in Trick that you kind of look at that you're like, wow, Patrick's found another one?

"He's got Raphi, who he did ‘Whisper’ with. She's really good, I really like her. I've met her a couple of times and she's played on some events supporting me.

"She's a singer and she DJs. Not many people do that. I've heard some of our forthcoming music as well so I’d definitely give her a shout-out.

"But I'd also like to give a massive shout-out to Hyyken. He brought a track out on Trick last year called ‘So Good To Me’ and it was an absolute summer anthem.

"He's a really nice lad over from Ireland, and he's a really good producer as well. I do believe he's got some forthcoming stuff too, so keep an eye on him. He's a cool kid, really cool. 

"But Patrick's always out there and looking out for new talent, so it wouldn't surprise me if someone completely new popped up soon."


Image: Schak on Facebook

You had a massive 2023, but we’re well into 2024 now, what can we expect from Schak for the rest of the year?

"I'm looking forward to writing a lot of music. I toured a lot last year and touring honestly takes a lot out of you. Obviously, I did some major shows last year, but there were a lot of times when I didn't get to spend a lot of time on myself. So I’m looking forward to taking that step back.

"I’m taking the time to write loads of music because I’m happiest when I'm being creative. 

"I'm going over to America soon to do some stuff over there too, but what I'm most looking forward to, is writing loads and loads of great new music and working with some new artists."


To finish off, we have a feature on Skiddle called 3 Tracks. So, we'd like to know, if your next set was reduced to just three tracks, what are you playing and why? 

“Why are you doing this to us, man haha!”

"I’m going to do this like, what I would start with, play in the middle, and finish off with, as that's how I'm doing it in my head.

"I'd probably have to pull up ‘Moving All Around’ first because that was my debut song.

"I've even got a Spotify code for it tattooed on my arm, and it actually works, because of how much it means to me.

"Do you know what it is? When I knew it was coming out, I thought I might only get one shot and there are loads of great music artists out there. So I just thought I needed to do something unique. So I made as much noise as I possibly could, and told everybody, look, this is who I am as a person and as an artist and thankfully it worked.

"I had so much momentum, my whole city got behind us and I had some amazing opportunities. So because of how much it means to us, I'll put that first

"In the middle, I'd probably put ‘Be Sharp Say Now’t' by Patrick. 

"Patrick, he means so much to me because he changed my life so much, in so many different ways. It’s timeless and such a good tune too, and the title ‘Be Sharp Say Now’t’ is Geordie slang, so that’s just mint too, you know what I mean?

"Then, I'd have to finish with ‘Erase Me’ by Ben Hemsley. 

"I think that track is timeless too. Ever since we've been kids, when we’ve talked about being in the position we're in now, we've always discussed writing something timeless.

"Now this is not just discredit to any artists out there, but I think we're living in the most untimeless era right now of music. And I know that's hard to say because how can you label something as untimeless when time has not lapsed, right? But I just know this tune will be.

"I remember when he first showed it to us, I wasn't sure about it, and then he played two sold-out shows in Newcastle and it had only been out a month, and the whole crowd sang it back to him, it was special. 

"So yeah, start things off with 'Moving All Around', then play 'Be Sharp Say Now't' then finish off with 'Erase Me.' I hope that's a good choice, but that's what I would do."




Schak will be playing live throughout the next few months, grab tickets to each event below, and click on the titles for more information:


Elation x Vivid: Schak // Josh Micky // Parsa Nani - Saturday 9th March 2024 at The Liquid Room in Edinburgh

Buy tickets:

Schak Easter Party - Saturday 30th March 2024 at Rainton Arena in Houghton-le-Spring

Buy tickets:

Subterra: SCHAK - Saturday 20th April 2024 at Unit 51 (The Tunnels) in Aberdeen

This event has been cancelled
Can no longer do Date



Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.








Header image credit: Schak on Facebook