Name: Marco Faraone
Occupation: DJ, producer
Current Event: Marco Faraone's current Ibiza season starts August 30th at Amnesia
Recommendations: The city where I live, Florence, is the first thing that comes to mind when I think about a piece of art. Just amazing … everyone should visit it at least once.
If you enjoyed this interview with Marco Faraone, you can keep up with him through his Facebook page. He also has an instagram and a soundcloud account.
When did you start DJing - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What what is about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I started DJing when I was really young. Probably when I was about 14, so about 17 years ago now. My father is a musician and when he was young he was a music selector for a local radio station in his small home town, so I grew up surrounded by a massive record collection from the 80s and early 90s. I’d be listening to artists like Jean-Michel Jarre, one of the first electronic music pioneers. My father absolutely inspired me a lot but in my hometown we had a big hip hop scene and playing electronic music in a club was almost impossible. So I started DJing playing music by Run DMC, 2pac, Snoop many other hip Hop legends. That was the only way to start playing in my city.
For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice? What is the the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?
I think everyone gets inspired by someone else, whoever says different is probably lying to themselves. We all start from scratch doing something, but of course we listen to someone or something else before settling on certain sounds. When I started playing house and techno, I was drawn to artists like Jeff Mills, Laurent Garnier, Sven Väth, our Italian hero Marco Carola and then also house masters such as Masters at Work, Danny Tenaglia and many others. I always tried to take something different from each one of them. With DJs like those guys, there is always something to learn and discover. You don’t have to copy them necessarily but it’s more about learning something from what they do and trying to evolve it into something else with your own creativity and musical taste.
What were some of the main challenges and goals when starting out as a DJ and how have they changed over time? What is it about DJing, compared to, say, producing your own music, that makes it interesting for you?
Honestly, when I started playing out I was not even expecting to play out of my hometown! I come from a small town in Tuscany Lucca, and playing in Florence (which is 70km far from my town) was a dream, an almost impossible one at that. So imagine now I'm performing in cities around the world ... sometimes I still don't believe it. DJing and producing are two completely different worlds. I’ve seen many amazing producers that perform terrible sets without any emotion. Being in the studio giving the best of yourself in front of a laptop is different to performing in front of thousands of people and making them happy and giving them something to remember is a magical music journey. For me it's always a challenge.
How would you define the job and describe the influence of the DJ? How are the experience and the music transformed through your work?
For me, playing is always a mission, a continuous challenge. Today this is my job but all started for passion and this is still my first passion, my first love. I think that the rule of the DJ is like a “shaman”; he/she has to bring you somewhere with the music, let you discover something new you haven't experienced yet through music, and it's also a big responsibility. I would feel super sad if I heard that someone didn’t have fun at one of my parties, leaving the club without any emotion. This, for me, is the worst thing a DJ can do.
What was your first set-up as DJ like? How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?
I played with everything and tried different equipment. I started playing with 2 belt turntables and a small 2 channels mixer without an EQ. When I started to DJ I didn't have enough money to afford pro equipment so I just bought what I could.
I bought my first Technics 1200 a few years later and a pair of Pioneer CDJ 100 around 2006 … I evolved playing with Traktor a few years later and when I didn't feel it, moved back to CDJs and turntables. I always evolved my setup, but I never abused the technology and was always focused on keeping the art of DJing alive. My actual setup is CDJs, with vinyl turntables where I know people will really appreciate a vinyl set.
How do you make use of technology? In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?
I think the most important thing beside the technology is your creativity. I have seen people produce amazing music in their own bedroom without any expensive machines, just because they had amazing skills. Like my first records; I had to produce with what I had. Look at Four Tet’s Against the Clock video and you can see what a guy can create with a laptop and a sample in 10 minutes. If you have skills, all you need is your creativity, not a single machine can be more important.
Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do life and creativity feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
Honestly, I'm the worst person at trying to organise my days! I always improvise and sometimes I do think I should organise my days better. For example, I don’t plan to go to the studio days before, not even a day before. I just feel the flow and sometimes I wake up in my pyjamas and socks in the middle of the night and open new projects. Actually, this is how I have produced some of my best tracks and an album. Or most of the times during my travels, on a train, on a plane, or waiting in the airport. I always get surrounded by what happens around me and do things. If I’m not motivated I don’t start on something. You can't search for inspiration ... inspiration will find you.
Let's say you have a gig coming up tonight. What does your approach look like – from selecting the material and preparing for, opening and then building a set?
I never prepare my sets before, of course I can only imagine the music I can play thinking about the venue. If for example, it's a big festival or a big club, the set time, the artist playing before or after me ... that helps me to have an idea. But I don’t prepare much. What if I prepare something that just doesn’t work, for example? That’s why I've never felt ready to play a “live set”. I always want to have a way to “escape” from what i’m doing and change the vibe. Most of the live sets are prepared before and if they are not working all you can do is to play it and see what happens.
Can you describe your state of mind during a DJ set? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
What gives me power and motivation is just being surrounded by positive vibes and my friends. There’s nothing that makes me feel better ... ah and maybe a glass of still vodka!
What are some of the considerations that go into deciding which track to play next? What makes two tracks a good fit? How far do you tend to plan ahead during a set?
As mentioned, I don’t really plan like this, I just hear if the key of the next track could fit and I just follow the vibe — always trying to surprise the crowd with something special and maybe unexpected.
Would you say you see DJing as improvisation? As composition in the moment? Or as something entirely different from these terms?
Totally improvisation for me; every club has a different vibe, crowd, atmosphere and education. You always need to understand the flow and go with it.
How do playing music at home and presenting it in the club compare and relate? What can be achieved through them, respectively, and what do you personally draw from both?
I never play music at home, but must of the time I stay in the studio producing. What I do is I listening to a lot of music and new records I download or buy every week, also for the label, and from there I make a selection of stuff I need for playing out or for listening ... two different worlds.
How would you describe the relationship between your choices and goals as a DJ and the expectations, desires and feedback of the audience? How does this relationship manifest itself during a performance and how do you concretely tap into it?
Well, of course during my career I made many choices, some were very good, some mistakes ... the important and the main goal is to he happy with what you do and let go of any mistakes you have made. You start from one point to reach another one — music is a continuous evolution and you always have to understand what happens around you and in the music scene and the new audience. It’s always a circle and trends are coming and going … what's important is to do what you feel and be satisfied with it.
Especially thanks to the storage facilities of digital media, DJ sets could potentially go on forever. Other than closing time, what marks the end of a DJ performance for you? What are the most satisfying conclusions to a set?
The end of the night comes when when you play music but there is no sound. The importance of the performance is not made by the equipment you use, laptop, CDJ, vinyl ... you can play a vinyl set but the records you play are not good then the final result will not be good anyway. Of course today the technology allows you to play easier, with loops , samples etc, but those things wont create the wave, the vibe of the set.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
Being an artist means for me be creative, do something different than others, don’t copy someone else but use your creativity to surprise the people who follow you. I never stick to the same style of music, people who know my music can see a development with different musical shades, without templates or trends. Being an artist is a big responsibility, you have to express yourself without any compromise and sometimes it is not easy because most of the artists are playing the industry game. Everyone wants to be famous, everyone wants to headline big festivals, everyone wants to do something bigger and bigger. So the REAL musical spirit fights with the desire of doing those things.