Friday, September 24, 2010

DJ's that could save your life: Mark Farina

Mark Farina has a lot to answer for! He's one of the people responsible for me writing this blog, he's partly to blame for me spending most days listening to an array of new tunes, he gave me the first hit of inspiration to mix and why I now spend an unhealthy amount of time DJing here there and anywhere and certainly someone my other half would like to have a quiet word with!

The reason is back in 1998 I bought the United DJ's Of America compilations - Frisko Disko. In those days triple vinyl packs weren't that common and I have to say a thing of beauty.  3 pristine slabs of vinyl brimming with new and exciting talent for me to listen to and enjoy; DJ Q, Naked Music, Peter Funk, Mateo & Matos and more and whilst I might have had tracks from them already (after all the likes of Glasgow Underground had broken M&M and DJ Q to the UK way before that) the purchase of that album was one of the defining moments in my house journey. I still play some of those tunes, especially Dreams Of You by Peter Funk (aka Kevin Yost). Soon after I bought the mixed CD which is still on my iPod some 12 years later. Quality set, quality tunes and back then opened my eyes.


Farina's name soon popped up on labels like OM, Panhandle, Robosoul, Music For Freaks, Distance, Classic, OM and the likes as these things do once you become aware of a name. Pretty soon my admiration was approaching collectors obsession as his name on a 12" meant it must be good! You know how it goes!? (Say you do!)

As the man himself puts it "I started playing when I lived with my parents and didn't have any bills to pay so I could just buy records. My intentions were never to just make money, it's nice, but it's kind of turned into a job by accident - it was a hobby that turned into a job." Which kind of sums up a lot about untitledmusic too.

There's a couple of biographies kicking around the internet, so I'll spare you the extended version and keep it brief. Originally from Chicago he made friends with Derrick Carter in 1988 in a record store whilst shopping for imports - Why has that sort of thing never happened to me?!

"I just ended up there between classes, I ended up buying his picks. He steered me toward the cutting edge House producers of the time." Farina explains.

He's the kind of DJ you could find in two rooms on the same night. main room, bounding floor action, throbbing crowds and a high energy set and then, perhaps more commonly associated with his sound is the downtempo grooves. A genre he kind of invented and call "Mushroom Jazz." Mushroom Jazz came to be when Farina found himself being asked to play the "B" room at a club in Chicago instead of the main room.

"As opposed to competing with the house music being played in the other room I decided to play more mellow stuff that you couldn't really play in the house room.


Around the same time, music like De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Soul2Soul, and labels like Acid Jazz and Talking Loud were just starting to release their music, and he found more and more inspiration for this new sound he was DJing.

"After a while playing in this other room I began to make a tape series and I called it Mushroom Jazz. The Acid Jazz term seemed a little too abrasive and I wanted something a little more organic for the sound I was trying to develop." And so it became the music have mix tape, an instant hit and became known as the official "after party" sound.

In 3 short years, the club established a fanatical, cult-like following for Farina and the Mushroom Jazz sound. When the doors closed, Farina continued the tradition by releasing a series of CDs, “Mushroom Jazz”, first on OM Records, then Imperial Dub, the guest slots on United DJ's Of America followed before a return to OM for a number of years until finally what started as a limited edition (50 copies of each) tape series was up to 500 copies and beyond. As time passed, Farina and Patty (his partner and manager) put their energies into the first Mushroom Jazz interactive CD-ROM and in recent times the Mushroom Jazz label has established itself as the home of the sound created all those years before.

Mark Farina playing at BM Soho Records! Check out the old Middlesbrough FC top on Pete Da Feet as he slips him the Lost My Dog - 5 Years Compilation CD! Good work fella!

Looking back, Frisko Disko was the first CD Mix I bought. I think - other than those free one's you got on the cover of magazines. It was my first introduction to that kind of sound, the first time I'd heard tracks I'd love mixed with a real energy, one so good it still sounds current, bar the odd tune! Until that point I just liked the music, I'd never considered mixing myself and here it was a lesson in the art of house!

Latest tracks by djmarkfarina

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