40 Years Later, Gene Farris is Still Living His DJ Dreams

Apr 19, 2023

Harry Levin

3 min read

Gene Farris started DJing when he was 11 years old. Almost 40 years ago.

Across those four decades, the idea of what it means to be a DJ has changed drastically. Even though Gene grew up around, and worked alongside, some of the most legendary DJs of the time, like Frankie Knuckles and Green Velvet, the job itself looked very different compared to what it looks like today. Calvin Harris just headlined Coachella with a DJ set. Nothing like that was happening in the 90s.

And yet, the reasons why Farris wanted to be a DJ all those years ago are, in many ways, the same reasons kids today are getting into the craft (though Farris was only spinning vinyl).

“When I was a little boy and I first had this dream of becoming a DJ I always said ‘I want to DJ. I want to be able to travel the world. I want to be able to make money off DJing because I want to be able to do something forever that I want to do,’” Farris told Will Clarke during an episode of The Will Clarke Podcast.

For all intents and purposes, Farris achieved that dream. He still plays dozens, if not hundreds, of shows a year. In the past six months, he’s traveled to Vancouver, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, and Detroit while playing in his hometown of Chicago.

Farris is traveling the world. He’s clearly making money, and his career has lasted decades. So, other than the fact that “forever” is hindered by the finality of life itself, he’s going to be DJing for as long as he can.

The next question is, of course, “How?”

With DJs like Calvin Harris headlining Coachella, more and more 11-year-old kids aspire to be DJs. So, how do they do it?

Well, the answer, according to Gene Farris, is as simple as it is cliche: love.

During the thick of the pandemic, when the traveling and making money parts of DJing were almost, if not entirely, destroyed, Farris was still DJing because he loves it—DJing on regular streams, DJing just for fun.

“What you have to remember is not the fact that you got the job and you’re doing something you love to do, but the fact that you asked to do something forever that you love to do. You have to remember that during [the pandemic]. That you love this shit, regardless.”

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