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Xceed-Interview-Marco Faraone

Interview with Marco Faraone: “I feel like a lot of DJs are following a template when they play”

We discover Marco Faraone's new album while the Italian techno producer discusses the ecology in the music scene, the consequences of the festival boom, the state of health of Ibiza and the controversial concept of “business techno”

Marco Faraone is a cool, humble, kind, easy-going guy. We met him one winter afternoon in one of the production studios of Bridge_48, one of the hottest spots for the electronic music scene in Barcelona. Marco Faraone, 31 years old and original from Lucca, a small city near Florence (Italy), appeared in the underground scene in 2010 when he debuted on Matthias Tanzmann’s Moon Harbour label with “Strange Neighbors”. His beginnings as a DJ, however, go back to 2002, when Marco was just 14 years old. Immersed in hip hop, he discovered the minimal music thanks to Richie Hawtin. Over the years, he has become one of the greats of big-room techno, creating his own label Uncage and collaborating regularly with other cult houses such as Rekids. It is precisely on Matt Edwards (Radio Slave)’s own label where Marco Faraone has just released his new album, entitled No Filter. With 33 minutes of conversation, Marco Faraone had enough to tell us about the album, his past, his future, the controversial concept of “business techno”, the state of health of Ibiza, the consequences of the boom of festivals for smaller clubs and the obsession for ecology in the scene. Hardly anything, right?



Marco, when you started to release music at the age of 19, your sound in labels like Subtronic was dub and minimal-oriented. Surprising!

I started deejaying hip-hop at 14, and then I discovered minimal, first, and house and techno, later. When I started producing, at the age of 16, I didn’t really know which sound I loved. I didn’t know much about music. My town, Lucca, didn’t have a proper music scene back in the days. We had no house nor techno clubs. The minimal sound was my first approach to electronic music, listening to people like Sven Väth or, above all, Matthew Jonson. I got that inspiration and that is where I started producing.


We asked some people about your music and most of them rapidly remembered “Climax”. Do you think it was maybe the track that changed your career back in 2016?

That was a very important release for me. I had released once in the only-vinyl Drumcode Limited before, but “Climax” was my first release on Drumcode’s main label, one of the biggest -if not the biggest- label in the techno scene, also in terms of exposure, brand and communication. So, yeah, “Climax” was catchy to the people and it became the track that brought me to the next level.


Is it the track you feel the proudest of?

I am always proud of every track I produce, but with that one, I felt especially proud because of releasing on Drumcode.



Talking again about those beginner sounds in 2007, and comparing them to your current sounds, can we say you have moved towards a big-room music proposal?

As an artist, you always get influenced by what surrounds you. I started to play more and more in big festivals, so I moved to different sounds. As an artist, you always start from a certain point and you never know where you will land. I always evolved myself. If you see my catalogue, you will see I released music on house and tech-house labels, like Desolat, Moon Harbour or Get Physical, and then I landed on Drumcode or Rekids, which is a completely different sound. But yeah, I moved to more big-floor sounds, no doubt about that.


Would you say you moved in that direction because you wanted to, or just due to the inertia?

You experience parties, you get influenced by the scene and the new sounds, something that is crucial for an artist. You know, now I am doing something, but maybe tomorrow I’ll be doing something completely different.


One of the concepts of 2019 in our industry was “business techno”, a concept which tries to define the act of defacing industrial techno put in the map by institutions like Berghain and adapting it to mass audiences and huge festival stages. How accurate do you find this concept?

For me, “business techno” means “techno that sells more than other types of techno”. I never liked to catalogue the music. I only know two styles of music: good music and bad music. I always listen to everything and I don’t like to catalogue music. I don’t like to say “business techno” because people decide for themselves what to buy. What is business techno? Techno made for business? I don’t make music for business. If it is selling, better. If it is not selling, I do it for myself and for my own profile and anyway I’m proud of it. If in 10 years, people like another type of music and my music is only usable in small clubs, I would keep making it.


Xceed-Artist-Marco Faraone
Image: © Marco Faraone’s Press Kit


Now that you talk about the future in 10 years: where is the scene going? I mean, which are your thoughts when you see how was the electronic music bubble when you started and how it is now?

The main difference, I think, is that people are paying more attention to what they see, than to what they listen to. People always say: “I’m going to see this or that DJ”. You shouldn’t go to a party to see a DJ. You should go to a party to listen to the music. I think that that is what people used to do much more before. The DJ was not seen as a rock star, like a showman or somebody to see him/her playing. The communication was more intimate, based mostly on the music, and not on the fireworks. Also, the festivals changed the perception of the people and what they expect. Festivals have made people get used to big spectacles with fireworks and lasers, and that makes more difficult for a DJ to go to play to a small club where there is only… just music. It looks quite simpler, poorer. I feel a big change in the scene because of the festivals, also. It is an evolution. I don’t say it is good or bad, but just evolution. But the positive aspect is that, with the festivals, way more people are getting close to electronic music. As always, changes come with a positive side and with a negative side.


Are these big festivals killing small clubs?

(long silence) Uhm… yes, they are killing small clubs. I have seen a lot of big changes in many countries, and I have talked to many promoters complaining about how people stopped going to their venues because they only want to go to festivals and they only save money for the festivals. And look the chain: before, clubs were used to program every week. Now they can’t, because they don’t fill the venue, so they open just once a month, so they book fewer artists, so artists loose opportunities for bookings. Also, once the festivals arrive, not all the artists get booked, but just the big ones. There is no space for new talents. And what if the new talents go to play to the clubs and the club is empty? Talent will never get the exposure. Music is evolution, we need to discover new talents, new generations, new artists. Sadly, there is no space for everybody at the moment.


How do we solve this?

That is the hardest point. I am running my own Uncage label, trying to push new talent, and sometimes it is disappointing because we want to feature a label showcase in a club, and most of the clubs are not open to that, and they just want Marco Faraone playing, you know? They just want the known talent. Clubs are not supporting young talent most of the times.


Xceed-Barcelona-Input-Marco Faraone
Marco Faraone in the 3rd anniversary of Swing, at Barcelona’s INPUT High Fidelity Dance Club. | Image: © Nel G. Photography


It looks also like the democratization of electronic music, and especially of music production processes, generated a violent mix of genres – techno, trap, house, ambient, hip hop and even reggaeton are sometimes coexisting in DJ booths around the world. Is this good for electronic music and for the clubbing scene?

If we get more quantity, we lose quality. Everybody can produce a track nowadays, yeah. You just need a laptop, not even a studio. But most of the people are not prepared to do that. They do it in an amateur way and somehow the result doesn’t sound really good. Regarding those multi-style mixes, as soon as you have quality in the music, it could be something surprising to listen to a versatile set, but always keeping the quality on a high level. I like experiments and surprises. They excite me. I miss more of that sometimes. Nowadays, I feel like a lot of DJs mix boring sets. It looks like they are following a template. They play the same sets at every single gig. I try to play different sets in every city I go to and every different situation.


Coming back to your music and your work, what have you been working on recently?

I moved to Barcelona one year and a half ago, despite I spent five months also in Ibiza for the summer season. It was a big life change for me. Moving from Florence to Barcelona was a huge change, and also a big inspiration. I spent most of my studio time working in my new album No Filter, which is coming out now on Rekids. It is like kind of a different project, more experimental, crossing barriers and achieving something else. It is something more special for me.


Is it danceable?

Half and half let’s say. One half is danceable, and the other half is maybe not danceable. It is not ambient, but it is experimental, with a lot of atmospheres.


Xceed-Album Cover-Marco Faraone-No Filter
Cover of No Filter. | Image: © Rekids


What is Marco Faraone bringing to 2020? Or what’s 2020 bringing to Marco Faraone? In terms of music, studio, production…

Well, I have also new EPs and releases coming. I keep collaborating with Rekids also, which is one of the main labels I am releasing on. I am working also on a -hopefully- new EP for Adam [Beyer], on Drumcode, which I hope to finish soon.


Ecology and sustainability are on everybody’s mouth now. More and more clubs and festivals already announced they are going to stop using one-use plastic, but still, a lot of ‘underground’ artists keep travelling with private jets. Which should be the path… and at which speed?

To be honest, I don’t think this is going to save our planet. We all can do something and stop using cars or scooters. There are a lot of things that are not good for the planet. Obviously, trying to avoid the use of plastic is helping. We have been dancing between plastic glasses for the last 30/40 years. Thinking in the long term, of course, that was really bad. Many artists are flying in a private jet, okay, but… I think flying in an aeroplane or in a private jet is almost the same, to be honest. I think that the system has to change in general. We have to find different solutions: for the cars, for the planes, for everything. It is not like avoiding plastic glasses for the next five years we are going to save the planet. It is a small but good change, of course, but it is not enough.


Vinyl discs have been also in everybody’s mouths regarding this issue, since, obviously, printing vinyl is always worse for the environment than downloading online files and saving them in a USB stick.

This world is full of contradictions. As I said before, stop drinking in plastic glasses but buying vinyl… what is the sense of all together? It is funny, but it is how it is. We need a change in the system in a lot of different things.


Xceed-Artist-Blondish-Bye Bye Plastic
Vivie-Ann from Blond:ish is one of the most activist artists in the scene against plastic. | Image: © Blond:ish


Just a curiosity: I wanted to ask you about so many DJs playing b2b nowadays. I find some of them a bit ‘weird’, let’s say.

I love to see unexpected and surprising b2b’s if they have sense musically speaking. It is true that, nowadays, some of them just make no sense. They are done just for some management strategy, but musically they don’t work. Sometimes, I saw sets that I never understood.


I have to say most of those non-worth it b2b’s I saw happened in Ibiza… What are your thoughts on the island’s musical scene?

The island is totally going towards a commercial side. Ibiza is starting to program super commercial types of music, and the people visiting the island has changed massively. I think that Ibiza was changing (as I said before, changes always come with a positive and a negative side), but the audience is now different: I see more families, more rich people, bars and restaurants are changing… Venues that were chiringuitos before now are big walls. Before, Ibiza had a more hippy and easy-life atmosphere. Now, you see more families with kids, and we are losing clubbers, who don’t have the money to come to the island anymore since the island has become super expensive in all its ways. Even people who have a comfortable life complain about the prices. Imagine those who save money in order to go clubbing.


Why is this happening?

I think it is something that the island wants. They had so many problems in the past. Nowadays, with social media, if you have a problem, everybody will know it the day after. 10 years ago, if someone died in an event, for example, you needed to read a local newspaper to get informed. If it happened today, 24 hours later the whole clubbing community worldwide would be talking about Ibiza. I think Ibiza wants to clean or refresh everything and get a new image.


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This is how the huge Ushuaïa’s VIP zone looks like. | Image: © Ushuaïa Ibiza Beach Club


And new and maybe less dangerous audiences?

Reggaeton. There are a lot of reggaeton parties now in Ibiza. Reggaeton parties with thousands and thousands of people, audiences who enjoy their party-times in a different way. What else can I say? We will get space for new places soon, in the next years. I have seen already new places evolving. Who knows which is going to be the next “magical Space”? (laughs)


What were your plans for this 2020 in Ibiza before the lockdown?

I keep an amazing relationship with Marco Carola, which is one of the artists who believed in my music and brought my profile on the island to the next level. Music On was the spark, the party that gave me a strong name in the island. This last year, they moved to Pacha. I was going to make a very big project with Amnesia this year with a new residency in different events, like for example Pyramid and elrow, and of course the Opening Night.



How was the move of Music On to Pacha?

It is different. In Pacha, you feel more playing in a club, while Amnesia made me feel more like I was in a kind of festival, in front of 5,000 people. These two clubs are very different from each other, so it is very difficult to compare their vibes.


Your desire for the future?

Thinking in the next couple of years, my big desire is to have my own brand, my own night, my own concept explaining my own story, where I come from, what are the sounds that made me the artist I am today. Of course, I dream to have it in Ibiza, but I always try to keep my feet on the ground. Good things need time. Let’s see what happens in the future.



(Cover Image: © Phlame)




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