I look at my job as a modern day traveling minstrel, to bring new music to as many places as I can, and expose obscure records that, otherwise, might go hidden." While Mark Farina may be able to sum up his job description in a sentence, there is much more to be written. Mark developed his musical tastes in Chicago - listening to house music on the radio, living in one of the country's most primordial breeding grounds for house. Around '88, while record shopping at Imports, Etc., he met Derrick Carter and a friendship began.
Farina's "Mushroom Jazz" sound subsequently became popular through a long-running San Francisco club called Jazid Up, then through various Mushroom Jazz clubs thrown domestically and abroad. "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."
Living together and working on tracks together along with Chris Nazuka, they utilized the tight connections between the Detroit andChicago scenes. Fondly, Mark remembers hanging out listening to Detroit Techno classics - Model 500, Derrick May - eating bologne sandwiches on white bread and drinking Kool-Aid out of a paper cup, prepared by none other than Chef Saunderson himself. In '89, they signed on Kevin Saunderson's KMS Records under the Symbols in Instruments moniker and produced a landmark track called "Mood". "Mood" sold 35,000+ copies in the US and the UK. This record was the first ambient house track ever made and, accordingly, it has taken its position as a classic. The same year, The Face magazine published their year end Top 50 with "Mood" ranking above pop anthems by Dee-Lite and The Pet Shop Boys.
"I used to do mixes with Derrick on the radio at Northwestern, we'd make it at the house and listen to it on the lake where they filmed 'Risky Business'. We would drive around and listen 89.3 WNUR; they had a policy, guest DJs didn't have to be students were allowed to DJ.
Mark Farina, along with partner, and current manager, Patty Ryan-Smith created, the now legendary weekly club, Mushroom Jazz, in 1992. Every Monday night the crowd slowly germinated - from 100 for the first few months to 600-700 two years later. Simultaneously, the Mushroom Jazz tape series evolved - from the first Chicago run of 50 copies each on to the next stage, where 500 copies of several volumes were easily distributed. As time passed, Farina and Patty put their energies into another project, the first Mushroom Jazz interactive CD-ROM. After a three year run, where the club had established a fanatical, cult-like following for Farina and the Mushroom Jazz sound, the club closed its doors and transformed into a CD series and accompanying tours.
The Next Step Lp also caught the attention of San Francisco based Om Records, a well respected underground music label who soonafter hearing the album offered the duo a new type of recording contract. "There had been offers before, but we turned them down because we couldn't deal with anyone having a say in what we did," Thes explains. "Om basically told us to keep doing what we do, and when everything was how we liked it, hand it to them and they'll release it. Their complete trust in us made for an irrefutable offer." After signing in the late summer of 1999, the two began working on "Question In The Form Of An Answer," their newest album.
Since 1989, Mark Farina has been traveling the globe performing at literally hundreds of shows a year, sometimes DJing both of his preferred styles in two different rooms at the same party. At other events, he's been known to play extended sets that lasted over eight hours. In his House sets, Mark is known for his uniquely effortless journeys on the jazzy side of Chicago House, mixed up San Fran style. And, flawless, as always.
This wandering record minstrel has played to incredible crowds all over the globe. Consistently drawing new fans to his style of chunky-funky rhythms and deep underground house, Mark plays upwards of 300 shows to over 300,000 club goers per year. Voted in the top 20 DJ's in the world by MUZIK and BPM Magazine, his taste making skills continue to turn the heads of seasoned veterans as well as youngsters just getting into the music.