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  Offworld Music
Record label catering to innovative music, artists and producers - from drum&bass to hip hop and electronic.

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  MARK FARINA

DJ Dan
   

 

WEBLINKS
- markfarina.net
- omrecords.com


 

 

 

 

 

buy the CD here

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

Though the glamour bubble of the DJ superstar traveling lifestyle has been popped (if you still think its fun, you have not thought of five gigs in five days with four layovers in three countries now have you?), that doesn't mean those hard working, record box toting world traversing music mixers are slowing down any. At least, not if you use the gauge of some DJs tour schedules. Someone hand me a Dramamine please! Just looking at all that country hopping could give anyone a bout of motion sickness... Unless you have your handy laptop or CD walkman loaded with the latest offering from one of the masters of club surfing and frequent flyer miles, Mark Farina's first full artist album, "Air Farina."

He does touch down in his home town of San Francisco long enough to record this mezmerizing mix of his two main signature styles, Chicagoesque House and Mushroom Jazz groove, and also to answer his phone and a few questions for this Raves.com interview.


Jennifer Warner: Your first artist album that's coming out, "Air Farina." At first I was going to ask you why you were calling it that, and then I went to your website and saw your tour schedule... You log so much plane time and like non-stop for months! Don't you get exhausted?

Mark Farina: I've been doing it for so long, so I'm just accustomed to it. I've always been this busy with tours, always going somewhere since like 94-ish, 95.

What do you do on the plane to keep yourself amused?

I listen to CDs a lot. I don't tend to bring my computer, I use it more as down time. Read newspapers and magazines, I don't read lots of books but I like newspapers and magazines. Watch the movie if I haven't seen it. When you're in the air you'll allow yourself to watch things you wouldn't watch otherwise. I'm into traveling lighter lately, I used to take my laptop but with the heightened security you have to pull it out and turn it on, which kind of annoyed me. Its easier to not bring it, and I can sleep pretty well on planes too.

Do you travel with someone usually?

Occasionally. I travel with my girlfriend sometimes, if I'm going somewhere interesting where I'm staying for a couple of days. Like I just went to Belgium and London and she came with me. But you know when its a more rigorous schedule I'm pretty much solo, like one city one night, another city the next night. Those aren't really fun for a guest. Sometimes I'll bring a friend, like one of my buddies that doesn't really travel so much, they can be entertained by it. But sometimes they aren't always built for it either, it sounds a little more glamorous but the reality of all that travel time if you're not accustomed to it a little exhausting.

So speaking of your website, I had so much fun going to it, its such a fantastic concept the whole flight theme. Did you come up with that idea?

Yeah well we were searching for directions to go with the website and I've always been into travel stuff and the sort of "Catch Me If You Can" can of retro airline stuff as well, just looking at airplanes as a kid. I had some samples... I figured since I traveled so much I could tap into some resources that I had. The guys that did the website did a really amazing job, they came over here for a while and took sound samples and I showed them different images of where I wanted to go. They definitely put it all into action extremely well, made it more... Cooler than I ever could have imagined really.

Did you come up with the whole Flight Safety cartoon?

They made all those but I kind of wanted to go with that theme. I collect those card that you get in airplanes, the safety instruction cards from different ones. I always liked the flatness, the look of them, the basic stylistic theme that they have. And they made their own interpretation of it.

And in your In Flight Entertainment part you have almost 300 photos each assigned a seat. Did you take all of those?

Myself and my girlfriend, Heather, we've been chronicling with those, she's good with inputting them. Trying to make it interesting. Some sites have like the same ten photos for a year. We wanted to make a point to keep adding stuff, new ones and older ones as we find them, and we encourage people to send ones in too if they were there. info@markfarina.com if you have any from any

Do you answer questions yourself on your message board, the Passenger Forum?

Sometimes... I don't always read chat stuff, I get a little self conscious... I get a little uncomfortable reading about myself... I tend to shy away from them but if they're like track ID questions or people looking for music my friends will see those and ask me about it so they get answered. I tend to be on the lighter side of internet use, I find. I look at a couple things online and that's it. Like the Weather Channel or look for some sneakers that I can't find anywhere else.

So let's get back to your album here. If you were describing it to someone who'd never heard it, what would you say to them?

Hmmm.... I'd tell them I made it to sort of represent the combination of electronic and real instrument sounds. To show people who don't go clubbing what club music can be like, I used different sample bits from different geographic regions, to give it a little international feel. Some of it a Chicago "SF" house-y sort of sound, and some acid track influence in there. And then I represented a Mushroom Jazz style of mine which is a little downtempo style, a little hip hop-ish. Not just one tempo, there's some different tempos. You know people who aren't versed in electronic music who don't know the different genres might think that its all the same but I've mixed it up.

You've got those two different styles that you're most known for, so that makes sense that they would be represented on your album.

And then I'd say I tried to put some fluidity in there, make it interesting for just listening at home. Not like some dance albums that are just like full 8 minute songs that start and stop, with a lot of DJ bits in there that are made just for the DJs that might not be entertaining for listening. So I tried to do a mix CD feel to it so you can listen to it the whole way through.

You worked with a couple of different people, like Kaskade, Sean Hayes, People Under The Stairs. How did you decide who to work with those particular people?

There are so many people nowadays who's stuff I like. I just wanted to incorporate a couple of my influences if I could, and it just so happened when I was doing production that different people were around at different times. When you want to do an album you can't always work with everyone who you want, cause sometimes people are busy unfortunately or in other parts of the world. It was really fun collaborating. Like Sean Hayes I met him, he's a friend of my neighbor's, more in sort of a lounge-ish, acoustic live scene that goes on here. I definitely wanted a more non-electronic feel vocalist, sometime a little different than diva pop vocal thing. His music, his vocal style is really unique. And working with Kasade, Ryan Raddon, I've always liked his stuff, its lucky that he's affiliated with OM [Records] and lives in San Francisco too, so I could get a hold of him. We've collaborated on a couple of little ideas in the past, some bootlegs, I thought our styles meeting would be very cool because he's definitely more smoother I find than some of my stuff, I tend to be a little more gritty. Lance Desarti is another old buddy of mine, he's part of the Dallas deep house collation that's since kind of moved on, like him and J.T. Donaldson, Jim Shoemaker, kind of old school deep house following. He lives in Chicago now, he's a buddy of mine and I just loved his production over the past couple of years on his own. He's been playing in San Francisco a bit and just worked out that he could come here in the studio in one of his pass overs here, hence the name "Leaving San Francisco" because he had to take off in two days.

Wow you did all of that in just two days?
Yep.

You have a studio in your house?

Yeah down in the basement. I live in the south side of San Francisco, and in my studio there's a view of the whole city, which is nice.

That sounds amazing. So people were coming in to work with you, you weren't traveling to work with people anywhere?

Pretty much. People Under The Stairs couldn't come in, but they gave me an a cappella, that they'd been working on pertaining to travel-related stuff, so that was that one. Kaskade we started here and put it on a laptop and brought it to a bigger digital studio. Everything was just recorded in the basement.

Do you have any unusual stories that happened while you were recording the album?

Hmmm, that's a good question.... Well just with the whole Shawn thing, I've never really... It was new for me to engineer my own vocal booth. And luckily Shure gave me a microphone, and everything came together it worked out in one take. That was a lucky day. I thought maybe it would take multiple takes, I don't know if you've ever watched like Making The Band but they're in there for hours and hours recording little vocal bits, so I was thinking we'd be in here forever. But he's so professional too, so that helped. But I was really surprized to get it in just one take.

So which is the first single?

The first one will be "To Do" and there will be a Derrick Carter mix and Kasade did a remix, and an extended album version, cause the orginal album version is kinda short, its just a couple of minutes long, so we made that longer. Derricks' is very BHQ style, Derrick Carter pumpin'.

You guys are friends from way back, right?

We were old roommates in Chicago in the early 90s. Had a loft called Red Nail together. He's still one of my oldest influences. I definitely picked up many DJ tricks from him, and production. We recorded on KMS together, Kevin Saunderson's label, back in 87, 88, ambient house days.

When were you making these tracks, did you burn copies of them and test them playing out?

Yeah periodic ones I would test each week, some of them I would change, go re-EQ them something like that. That's definitely fun with the advent of CD technology, just make one and test it out on different systems that weekend. As oppposed to making up an acetate back in the day for like $75. Or we would play stuff off of pitch cassette, which was definitely not the best sound quality.

Pitch cassette? I haven't heard of that, what's that?

It was an old Chicago/New York thing. Just like a cassette player with pitch, so you could play anything. That's how you could test a track. Not the most impressive sound with the hiss off the cassette.

Well that's interesting considering how your Mushroom Jazz series got its start off cassette, it was a mixtape series and then it got you into doing a club night, right?

Yeah it all spawned from the cassettes. Gramaphone Records in Chicago, pretty much every Chicago DJ, Derrick Carter, myself, DJ Heather, Ralphie Rosario, Sneak, Mile Maieta just to name a few, all worked there and everybody would sell mixtapes every week there, all the employees, just sort of a way to get records. Many Chicago people that have got like a plethora of old mixtapes.

Do you still have copies of them?

Yeah I have all the orginals.

You going to re-release any of them?

We might do that someday, through Tweakin.com – we'll sell old mixtapes through Tweakin. Cause a lot of people, even if you have those tapes they played them so much they wore out or got stolen. I think even now mixtapes last a little longer than CDs.

They don't scratch at least! Speaking of Mushroom Jazz, would you ever do another club night again?

Yeah, I still do periodic stuff in other cities. I don't know if I would do a weekly, cause a weekly is tough. If I had the right venue, if I opened my own venue.

Would you open it in San Francisco?

Yeah cause I live here right now, and I think San Francisco is in need of a new venue. Its unfortunate to travel and see some global top class clubs if you don't get to see what's out there, you can't see how the bar has been raised in other cities. I play some late night sets where I'll mix house with Mushroom Jazz sets, and I know certain cities or parties that are into more tempo changes than others. That could be part of Mushroom Jazz 5 for the spring I think.

Would you play 8 hours like you've been know to do?

Yeah that's usually when I combine both, I play house for two hours then slow it down and then speed it up again.

What is it about playing that long that you enjoy?

Usually if I don't play somewhere for a while and I know people are coming out to hear it and are up for it, if I travel for a certain distance I like to play for longer, as long as the equipment is good. There's a lot of good music and I like to get the chance to play it. Some cities are hampered by their hours restrictions, so they just can't get that long, some people can't even get 8 hours of clubbing. People generally appreciate longer sets.

Well that's going to be it for this interview, you've been great, thank you so much! Is there anything else you'd like to say to the Raves.com audience before we go?

The album is out now, hopefully it will put some fun back into traveling!

We think it does! Check out Air Farina out now on Om Records.

-- written by Jennifer Warner

 

 

 

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