Interview: Marco Faraone shares his favorite DJ tools, current must-plays, and career advice
Marco Faraone (Uncage, Rekids, Drumcode) is a prolific and versatile producer whose incendiary live sets have earned him the attention of all the right people.
Hit play in the video to watch and listen to some of his set at BPM Portugal 2018, then keep reading beyond that for his DJ tips, career advice, and must-play tracks of the moment.
Hailing from Tuscany, Italy, Faraone grew up immersed in music – his father was a radio DJ in the 80s, his grandfather was a folk singer and a musician. Surrounded by diverse musical influences, Marco started playing around with hip-hop records, graduating into drum n bass when he wanted something a little “freakier”.
His mixing abilities didn’t go unnoticed for long, as Faraone landed his first gig at just 14 years old.
What do you recall from your first gig at 14 years old?
I do remember was super nervous, and I remember that I prepared for months in advance before showing up at the gig. I was playing a vinyl-only hip-hop set and I was still improving my DJ skills at that time, but I made it through somehow. And I’m still doing it, so it must have gone ok.
Laurent Garnier is one of your favorite artists. What have you learned from him?
Where to start? Laurent Garnier is a master at what he does. And I still learn things when I watch DJs as accomplished such as him. Despite being active in the scene since the early 90s, he’s still one of the most consistent and exciting DJs in the scene. And there are very few other DJs who can match up to him in this regard.
I guess the thing I’ve really taken from Laurent is the value of versatility and always staying eclectic during my sets. He always surprises me and he always keeps an amazing quality during his sets. A proper DJ and someone I still look up to in a really big way.
How did your relationship with Marco Carola and your place in Ibiza impact your DJ career?
Well, for me it’s hard to mention one influencer like Laurent without mentioning another like Marco. Indeed, it is hard for many Italian fans to talk about electronic music in our country without talking about Marco’s influence. And personally speaking, he’s been a big influence on me since I kicked off my career.
He’s a real maestro and I’ve always followed his sound development. Again, another DJ who isn’t afraid to take risks and go eclectic. Music On was the first party that gave me the chance to grow my profile on Ibiza, which was, of course, a massively influential step for me. It’s something I’m honored to be a part of, and playing at the party is always a real highlight for me. So thank you, Marco!
Your track “Strange Neighbors” was a hit, and well-received when Moon Harbour founder Matthias Tanzman played it at DC10 in 2010. Can you recall what the dance floor looked like? How did you feel?
Actually, I’ve been on the dancefloor many times when DJs have played it. Not just Matthias, but also Ricardo Villalobos, Marco Carola, and Loco Dice, just to name a few. And hearing DJs you respect play your stuff on crazy sound systems is an experience you never tire of, trust me.
When Matthias played it at DC10 I remember that it prompted an amazing “sit-down” and the crowd exploded like crazy. Before then the only “popular” way to listen to the music or watch videos was YouTube and the video went viral. I don’t play the track so much these days (even though I’m always asked to!) but for sure, it’s had a significant impact on my career. In many ways, it was the moment that kickstarted everything.
You hold a residency at one of Italy’s busiest clubs, Tenax Club, in Florence. Can you share with us how you gained such residency?
Well, I was actually going to Tenax for 10 years before getting that residency, and I paid in as a clubber many times! Did I ever think I’d be a resident there? To be honest, no, but from the first time I stepped in there and felt the magic, it was definitely something I strived for. So again, a real dream come true in so many ways. Of course, I worked hard to get to that point — and as you might imagine gaining the trust and respect of the team and the promoters weren’t easy.
Strangely, I think towards the beginning of my career that my international profile was maybe stronger abroad than in my home country, so they were maybe looking for an Italian resident with a strong international profile. Of course, I can’t say for sure, but it’s definitely provided a valuable platform for me to grow. Playing to such an educated and demanding crowd – especially as a resident – is an invaluable experience as a DJ.
Tenax has also brought genre heavyweights like Adam Beyer, Dixon, and Jeff Miles. Have artists like them influenced your DJ style?
You know, every one of these guys has influenced me somehow. You don’t need to copy them, but I always try to get the best side of each artist; they all have a specific quality. And hopefully, that’s something I pass down to the younger generation too.
You just need to evolve with your own creativity and go at it your own way though: copy cats don’t hang around long in this game. So always be yourself behind the decks!
How do you prepare your sets? Do you know which tracks you will play or do you experiment?
Actually, I never prepare my sets, I always improvise. Every club is different and had a unique atmosphere and soul. Something I could have in mind the day before is probably not working so I always look at the right vibe to find before my set. Each DJ is different, but this is the approach that suits me best.
What’s your favorite DJ gear and why?
As far as I’m concerned, the Pioneer DJ CDJ-2000NXS2 is the best player released so far. I’m a huge fan of the high-resolution touch screen display as it makes finding the next track you want to play that much easier.
As I’m a bit of detail-freak when it comes to the quality of the tracks I play, it’s also great that it allows for FLACs, etc. The loop functions are really great, as are the hot cues. With a machine like this, you can spend hours implementing new ways of mixing and being creative and it allows for endless possibilities. It’s such a complex piece of kit that I guess I’ll never truly master all of its features!
I’m very curious about the next one coming! I guess it’s just the range of different technical things you can do with it that makes it so exciting. It’s always hard to predict what (Pioneer DJ) will do next which I guess is part of the fun…! But always worth the wait.
What piece of DJ technology you wish existed and why?
A CDJ with an anti-light reflection screen. Sometimes when you play daytime sets, you can’t read anything. And private access to your USB stick with a password, because if you lose it someone can then steal all your music. Surely only a matter of time before these things come to pass.
What’s your favorite DJ set up when playing in clubs and why?
At the moment, 3 x 2000NX2s, an Allen & Heath Xone 92 mixer and an RMX-1000 effects unit.
For me, the Allen & Heath mixer is the best in the game and I’m always much more comfortable playing on this mixer. Probably because it’s one of the most common mixers and often used in clubs. But it’s just a mixer I love… allows for really smooth transitions too and the 6 channel mixer comes in handy when I’m feeling especially adventurous behind the decks.
Using this setup is amazing… it’s like having a third arm! Of course, not each club can provide you with this setup, so I often have to improvise, but things definitely work a bit smoother when I have this set-up.
What are your favorite tracks right now?
I’m going to go for the following…
Fideles – The Last Glow – killer new stuff on my friends Tale Of Us’ Afterlife
Get Cosy – Whatever – a slightly obscure techno banger I came across recently. This one always works!
Tres Demented – Brain Freeze – a classic Carl Craig gem which I rediscovered recently. Again, this one always goes down well on the floor!
Any advice you would like to give to aspiring DJ?
It’s a question I get asked occasionally and my answers are always the same: always follow your passion and love what you do. Sooner or later things will come good. I think this is as true in most aspects of life as it is DJing.
For me, I spent years on dance floors, sent countless hours telling people mixes and when I wasn’t DJing in clubs I was practicing my mixing and production at home. And never think you know it all either! I’m incredibly proud of a lot of what I’ve done, but I’m also wary that you’re only as good as your last keep. So keep striving to do better and as I said earlier, remember to stay true to yourself.
And lastly, it can be a tough industry so try to keep after your mental health as best you can.