Mark Farina on Mushroom Jazz and MPLS

Categories: DJ Q&A
Photo by Shauna Regan

"Some of the music we play is really not geared for your bumpin' enjoyment
It's geared for you to think
So for those of you who don't think too much
I'm just telling you about that shit before we drop it on you"
--Hydroponic Groove - "In Hale" - Mushroom Jazz 1

Too many DJs spend hundreds of overpaid hours behind the booth and never really satisfy more than their own ego. This, friends, is not Mark Farina. In 1997, the crate-digging Chicagoan put a string of relaxed electronic soul songs together -- much to college stoners' delight -- on a compilation called Mushroom Jazz, and a new style of house suddenly had a wide-open avenue and delivery man with a view to put it all together. Six of those compilations and 13 years of soothed ears later, when people talk about Farina, they don't focus on his music production, his quiet charisma or his dress sense -- none of that matters in the big picture that is his career. Especially when it comes to track selection, he is simply one of the most taste-making DJs house music will ever know. 

Anyone who doubts this or the soul-grabbing effect of intelligent house music -- not disco club crap remixed into infinity -- should pick up Mushroom Jazz 1 and go check out Farina's show this Friday at Epic. Meantime, Farina took a few minutes between gigs to talk with us about the future of his famed compilation and why Minneapolis is special.

Gimme Noise: What's one record that no matter what, always takes you back to the golden house days? Tell us about a memory attached to it.

Mark Farina: There are fortunately a bunch of tracks that bring on the golden house days, sometimes even new ones. One oldie that does that for me is Soho "Hot Music". Jazzy piano riff and slappin drums. Whenever I hear it, I am transported back to the old school loft parties in Chicago in the early 90's.

GN: Do you anticipate a Mushroom Jazz 7? 77?

I'll keep doing the compilation as long as possible even though mix CDs in general are fading a bit.  But that sub-genre has a distinct feel that holds to the test of time.

GN: Do you think you'll always be a professional DJ or will there be other avenues opened in your future music-wise?

Might try other music avenues, like producing music for movie soundtracks, TV and games. I'm also restarting my record label digitally called Great Lakes Audio.

GN: What do you think of "fidget" house -- like the stuff Switch has been heralding of late?

There are nice vocal bits in fidget house but a lot of the keyboards and baselines are too squelchy for me.

GN:. What's one thing about Minneapolis that is different about other crowds?

Minneapolis crowds understand "the funk." That is hard to learn and not all places have it. Also being in the Midwest, they know good house music. The two traits combine wonderfully.

SPECIAL NOTE: Chuck Love has been added to the bill and will play live instrumentation over a portion of Mark's set.



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