In the midst of San Francisco's giant festival of all things dance music related, Love Fest, we thought it was only appropriate to do our Friday Q&A with a DJ who helped put San Francisco on the map: Mark Farina. Farina's "Mushroom Jazz" series has developed from a cassette thing in Chicago in the early '90s through his club night of the same name (co-created in S.F. with Patty Ryan in '92) to the upcoming release of Mushroom Jazz 6 Oct. 21. He's an in-demand DJ around the world: in the next two months alone, he hits Hawaii, Australia, and Canada. But he took a minute out of that busy travel schedule to divulge some tips on being a frequent-flyer DJ. (Check him out live this Saturday at the Om Records Love Fest afterparty at Mezzanine).
Name: Mark Farina
Style of music you spin: Deep, dubby, jackin’, S.F. Chicago house music and also jazzy underground hip- hop acid jazz stuff.
You're a total vet in the club world. But what was your first big break into the DJ scene? Back in Chicago around 1990, landed a residency at “Shelter” for Thursday nights in the main room. My first main room weekly on a big sound system and it turned out to be a great night for 3-4 years.
What is one of your fonder memories from the early Mushroom Jazz club days? Being at Cat’s Grill on Folsom, 1a.m., place packed and jumping, then being served some yummy food that the chef would create each week on his ever-changing menu.
What's the most interesting thing happening in the house scene these days? For myself, seeing a young generation of producers and DJs get involved, as young as 13 and making good tracks or spinning.
Your travel schedule racks up the frequent flier miles. Any advice for the jet-setting DJ types out there? Travel with carry on only. If you’re staying in a hotel, make sure you get a late check out, nothing worse than playing till 5-6 a.m., then being kicked out at 11a.m. or noon, then having to walk the streets till your later flight.
What music/trends/creative ideas have you picked up on from other cities by traveling so much? Every city’s DJs have their own style that differs city to city. Getting tracks from different places and knowing what tunes are from where is always interesting. Some cities like a slower tempo, some faster. Also, you always hear something new and from a different perspective.
When you're on a DJ tour, do you have different music for different cities, or does every stop get the same set? Yes, sets always evolve from city to city. Different geographic areas like different things, so I try and play according to the place. Of course there are always a few great new tunes that I want to play wherever I am, but don’t know when.
What's the longest set you've played, and what's the secret for keeping up your stamina? 12 hours. Long sets usually aren’t the problem. It’s what you do the rest of the day that takes more energy.
Describe the toughest DJ experience you've had: Recently played in the northern part of Nova Scotia. First flew S.F. to Boston to Halifax, 9 hours, then drove north 3 ½ hours from Halifax to an outdoor festival. Played 2-4 a.m., napped 2 hours, then had to drive back to Halifax 3 ½ hours to catch 11 a.m. flight to NYC.
Most treasured vinyl score: A spoken word record… Black Drama with Barbara Ann Teer and Charlie Russell, Folkway Records
Musical mantra: Share good music.
Question we didn't ask you but you often ask yourself: How long will I be able to do this for?
What are you working on these days that we should know about? Mushroom Jazz 6 will be out October 21st.
Next time we can see y ou spin: SF Love Fest, Saturday, October 4. Om Records Love Fest afterparty at Mezzanine on October 4. Mushroom Jazz Release party at Mighty on Saturday, October 18.