Superstar DJ turn it up!
DJ Mark Farina made his name in club music by pioneering downtempo house music, dubbed Mushroom Jazz. But its only one style for this spinner: After making his name on house beats in Chicago, he moved to San Francisco just in time to absorb the acid jazz scene and incorporate it into his sound. Now one of the biggest names in house music, he answers a few probing questions about the deep world of house before performing at Samana on Sunday.
Vail Daily: Youre unique among DJs in that youre known for being a master of more than one style. How did that happen?Mark Farina: A lot of it stems from my first time being a clubber. Id go to a club in the mid 90s, late 80s and visit rooms with completely different styles. The A-room was house, and the B-room would be reggae or hip-hop. My first style was a deep-house thing, but later I started to do calm, chill-out rooms with less of a dancefloor focus. Soon, I started to change and combine the two genres, and mushroom jazz kind of became my alter-ego. Its the type of music you listen to after the party, on the way home from a club. It just sort of became quite popular from there, but it opens up different world of music to play.
VD: Ive heard that sometimes youll play two rooms at the same party, with different music in each.MF: It depends on where Im at lots of clubs have two rooms where I can make that happen. But it depends on the vibe of a town some cities like acid jazz, others like mushroom jazz in the main room. I try and stay within the realms that theyve created for their scene. Sometimes Ill alternate hour-and-a-half sets in each room, which Im doing next week in Japan. Other times itll be a half-hour break of downtempo between all night playing house. Sometimes Ill play a really long set in one room of up-tempo or downtempo (music).
VD: Do you know what you plan to rock before you play a gig?MF: I do and I dont. I base it on how many times Ive played (there) before, and what got the crow going. I bring everything with me, but I dont know where Im going to go. Depends on what the opener is playing before me. Colorado people are open-tempo theyre up for most things, so maybe Ill start early with downtempo and go to house. But I never have a setlist I play it by ear. I like to try different things and see what people are up for. Im looking forward to coming out. If people are on the border with dance music and dont have a lot of electronic influence, thisll be a good bridge, because my stuff is very organic. Newcomers will like that.
VD: When did you realize you were breaking off your won style?MF: It wasnt until I started traveling a bit more. In Chicago you didnt realize the style was different. Then I came to San Fran and saw all the different styles of electronica other music and acid jazz in San Fran parties. The type of stuff I played was different from that.
VD: Whats the best way to go from bedroom record collector to DJ?MF: Practice make a lot of mix CDs. Record yourself, and spend time being a bedroom DJ. Give out lots of CDs. Making tracks can only help ultimately, you make tracks or you dont. Find a local club or venue and get a job there. If you know a room you want to play, and you think to yourself, I think I can rock this crowd, try and get a regular gig there. Making tracks really helps if you want to be a travel DJ. Another DJ will reccommend you based on your tracks. Its not so easy anymore its like (making it in) a band. Maybe ten years ago it was easier, but now the market is saturated with kids coming up; you need little extra bits and bobs to get noticed.
VD: You spend 150-200 days doing traveling gigs every year. Where are some of your favorite places to perform?MF: Auckland is great. London even though its expensive, I still like it. Belgium. Tokyo Japanese people are really great, I try and get there once or twice a year. Canada is a very hidden gem for clubbing. People really know whats up up there.
VD: Whats the best and worst part of the jet-set DJ lifestyle?MF: The best part is the office change every day. I know people in each place that can show me around. Traveling, to me, is better than being a DJ in just one room. The crowd changes everywhere you go. The downs are the usual stuff: getting stuck in airports, losing baggage, getting stuck on the runway or ending up with broken gear.Arts & Entertainment writer Ted Alvarez can be reached at 748-2939 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado