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House legend Mark Farina on leaving Las Vegas, his PHX show

Published: Friday, June 15, 2012

Updated: Friday, June 15, 2012 14:06

Mark Farina

Dope Den Productions

For the true house heads out there, Mark Farina needs no introduction.

His personal style of mixing encompasses a unique blend of sounds and sub-genres. His fusion of sounds include hip-hop, funk and jazz and can range from chill-out couch music to dance floor grooves. According to the DJ and producer, his style is a combination of influence of Chicago house, where he’s from, and San Francisco house music – we’re he’s lived for the past 20 years.

“That’s kind of vague, but those two cities encompass a whole lot of sub-genres that people will call different things and their sounds are very diverse,” he explained in a phone interview with College Times. “In my sets I’ve always tried to include house heads but not exclude the crowd that is maybe new to the house scene.”

College Times: So tell me how you got your start as a DJ. I read that you used to be quite the soccer player.

Mark Farina: Yeah, I actually played at the University of Arizona.

Oh, really? That’s awesome, I didn’t know that. 

Yeah, I played for the soccer team out there for the one year I went there. But, yeah, I was still in high school when I started DJing so it was just a hobby. I was really into music; I was playing the trumpet in the marching band and concert band and buying records. Plus, growing up in Chicago in the late ‘80s, there was a very large DJ culture growing there — earlier than most places. I was exposed to a lot of mixing so I got into it from that angle. But yeah, it didn’t really work well with soccer. The coach was always mad at me, because I’d be playing late nights at these clubs. 

Did you just have a stronger passion for the music?

Yeah, and as I got older I transferred to a school in Chicago that didn’t have a soccer team. Plus once you get in that mid-collegiate age you just kind of grow out of it unless you’re going to go pro, but I didn’t have the time or dedication to do that so soccer started to fade out naturally in my mid-20’s and the DJing started to take off. 

What is Mark Farina live set like?

You just have to observe the room while you’re there and see what kind of energy the crowd is giving off and how they are reacting. […] I’m not the kind of DJ that picks out [in advanced] what I am going to play; I’ve had DJ friends like that. When I was younger one of my buddies would put his records in his record crates in the order that he was going to play them for his set, regardless of the crowd. On the flip side, I don’t even know what my first song is going to be until I look around and see whatever variable is thrown my way, so it’s sort of an improv thing.

I read on the Dope Den Productions website that they pulled the plug on your set at the Marquee in Las Vegas earlier this week following complaints from some of the club’s table service guests who weren’t happy with the music. What happened exactly and what was your reaction to it?

Uh, it was rather irritating. I didn’t even get to start. Miguel Migs and Julius Pap were both playing before me, and I was about to start when the manager came and pulled me aside and was like “Oh, we’re going to go a different route for the rest of the party, musically,” and I was like, “Okay.” I was indifferent. I mean, I had already been paid, and I’m pretty relaxed about those kinds of things whereas some other DJs might have made something different out of it but I was like, “Oh well, whatever, then I get the night off.” But I told him that there were going to be people that were going to get upset and that I didn’t agree with the decision. They were going to have some upset house heads on their hands.

What do you think that says about the “mainstream” public’s perception of house music?

There are so many genres of dance music and some genres don’t always cross over as well [into the mainstream]. Also, Vegas in general isn’t been the greatest of house towns in terms of having a strong house scene. It’s always been more centered on hip-hop and R&B and top 40 or Kaskade and Tiesto – those lines of DJs with a harder sound. So, I don’t know, it’s just strange. I mean, it seemed like they booked the DJs with something in mind and its not like they didn’t know what we played or what we do. They should have followed through with what they advertised. Even though they were risking losing some people — I guess some of the tables were complaining the music wasn’t hard enough or something — they should have ignored them and stuck to what they put on the floor. Even though they were paying customers, there were people who paid to get in just to see that gig. We had people come from LA and San Francisco and [the club] should have honored those people who made an effort to get there and not the minority of people who were complaining. I know that [the club] very much regrets their decision and how it went down.

Mark Farina, Monarch Theatre,  122 E. Washington Street, Phoenix, 602.692.9633, Saturday, June 16, 10 p.m., $15



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