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Podcast: SPTL161: Mark Farina

A true Chicago House representative behind one of the best things in music - Mushroom Jazz - steps away from his son for a minute to talk to us about his life and his mix.

The Mix

Talk us through the track selection of the mix.

"This is part of a live mix I did in London. It's a rare set, 6 hours from open to close, so at this stage I'm still with the House, but I'm starting to wind it down at the end, in terms of tempo. I'm always keeping it funky and fresh."

Where and how was the mix recorded?

"Like I said, this mix was recorded live in London, in the Shoreditch district of London. What this club night does is they feature one DJ, all night. So I start from 10pm tip' 4am in the morning. It was recorded live at this Basing House party and this is their thing where they let one DJ take over all night and take you on a journey."

What are the musical influences that have allowed you to arrive at this mix?

"Well, my musical influences, well especially for this long set, it allows me to all kinds of things that I might not be able to do during a two hour set at a club. But when you are playing a six hour set, you can go a little journey so to speak. So, I got to mess with tempos… I started off the evening down tempo with the mushroom jazz style, then slowly moved up through nu-disco, into house, and yeah, it's nice when you get to play really long sets on a really good sound system like you have at Basing House. So yeah, makes it pleasant playing with moods and tempos."

The Plug

What is keeping you busy at the moment?

"Well, of course that would be my three year old son who runs me around all day. Musically, I'm always travelling every weekend. Right now I played Santa Barbara last night, off to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, next week is New York, Charlotte Carolina… so, in-between that - aside from being a Daddy - I'm also doing all my music homework. Right now is about the time you start getting all the WMC (Miami Winter Music Conference) promos, so every day new goodies come in through my inbox that I have to sort through and learn."

Your label - GLA (Great Lakes Audio) - is seeing some great releases at the moment. What do we have in the pipeline?

"Yeah this is my kinda house project, it brings me back to the days of growing up in Chicago, with the great lakes… kinda mid-west jacking-house. The next thing coming up in March is Trevor Vichas and Tommy Largo EP, then after that I've got a guy named Chemars out of Russia in the works, then possibly a Mikey V after that from the Southern California area… so, lots of goodies in the works."

You're on tour pretty much constantly, any highlights in the coming months?

"Yeah, I'm pretty much on tour non-stop - I enjoy it a lot though. I'm always busy, every weekend I'm somewhere different, although never really any time to rest. But yeah, last night Santa Barbara, New Orleans, New York… yeah, the airport and the clubs are basically my office!"

You played many times last year on Ibiza with George from Nightmares On Wax, focusing on the alternative mushroom jazz style of yours, will you be doing much of the same this season?

"Oh yeah, I was fortunate enough to work with George, we did some really cool shows in Ibiza, doing a different thing to the house vibe that I'm known for. Nothing in the world at the moment for the 2014 season, hopefully something will be going on though. He's doing a world tour now for his most recent nightmares on wax album (LINK) so George has kind of been busy with his full band. So, as soon as he's done with that we're going to get together and figure out some stuff to do… we might even work on some tracks this summer as well."

Your B2B2B sessions with Sneak and Carter are legendary, how did that relationship come about, why do you think you all gel so well?

"Yeah with Derrick and Sneak we have a special little thing going on. It started at Tomorrrowland last year, it was just going to be a one-off thing, but it ended up going so well that we did a tour, and next summer maybe with up to six or eight dates throughout Europe, and Pacha of course."

"We all know each other so well, we've known each other for something like twenty, twenty-five years, we grew up together, we were working in record stores together at the end of our teenage years into our twenties, so it is pretty second nature that we get our vibe to come together right away when we play together. All three of us are lucky to be busy a lot of the time, so we don't see each other a lot. But, it is great to be with those guys whether we're playing together or not, so doing the gig thing kind of brings us together. So yeah, we know each others moods and feelings and it goes well."

Southport weekender celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, you're putting together a release for this, right?

"I'm a big fan of the Southport Weekender festival and I've also done their SuncéBeat festival in Croatia. So yeah, in the works there is a double CD for their 50th anniversary, one is going to be more down-tempo - mushroom jazz, nu-disco, and the second one is going to be house. I'm lucky and happy to be doing something for those guys because they really know how to throw a great event with great lineups in every room. Any one of the rooms on their own is a great lineup in itself and then they put it all together… it's a great thing to be a part of."

Finally, you have a weekend off. Where do you go? What do you do?

"I tend to stay home, I tend not to go on vacations when I have time off. So, a nice weekend off would be me staying at home with my son, maybe watching a little football… I'm an Arsenal fan. Sometimes when you're travelling you don't get to watch that in the hotel rooms, so I'd watch that at home, maybe go to the beach, chill with my girlfriend, work on some tracks in my studio,, mess around with some drum machines. That is a good weekend of for me."


Modern day record minstrel, Mark Farina, has thrilled crowds globally, entertaining over 1 million fans per year. As one of the most ubiquitous DJs in Dance Music, Farina's known for both his unique style of mixing Jazz, Downtempo and House Music as well as being the creator of Mushroom Jazz: West Coast jazzy, organic productions combined with East Coast Hip-Hop, Urban beats.

Drawing from his vibrant youth, which included being a trumpet player in marching band, a drummer in a nu wave cover band and a guest DJ, Friday nights on WNUR (Chicago), Mark found his passion for the luscious world of vinyl, turntables and nightclubs. At 16, Farina began his DJ career as a resident at Chicago's underage mecca, Medusa's. At the same time Mark joined forces with emerging DJs Derrick Carter and Chris Nazuka then moved into a loft space called Rednail. Rednail became infamous not only for raucous parties but also as the home to the trio's first productions under the moniker, Symbols & Instruments. Their release,"MOOD," sold 35,000 copies in the US & UK and is credited as "the first ambient house track."

Farina relocated to San Francisco in 1992. Fans embraced Mark's downtempo style and he started co-hosting a weekly Mushroom Jazz club night in ‘93. In 3 short years, Farina established a fanatical, cult-like following for his Mushroom Jazz sound and in 1996, OM Records released the first mixed comp CD, simply titled, Mushroom Jazz. Since then, Mark has released 7 volumes of Mushroom Jazz with 2013 marking the 20th anniversary of the series. Other notable releases include OM's Seasons, San Francisco Sessions Vol. 1, Connect, House of Om, Live in Tokyo, and Fabric 40.

When Mark's not touring the world, headlining festivals including Harbourlife (Sydney), Southport Weekender (UK), DEMF (Detroit), Coachella (CA) and T in the Park (Scotland), you're likely to find him in his studio working on new releases or podcasts for his label, Great Lakes Audio. On days off he'll be cruising his '68 Toronado with his son, Dylan (aka "little peanut"), and his Yorkie, "Pumpkin".

Voted as one of the top DJ's in the world by URB, MUZIK and BPM magazines, Mark Farina's taste making skills continue to turn the heads of seasoned Dance Music veterans as well as newcomers to the scene.

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