Gene Farris at ARC 2021
10 Chicago-born Hometown Heroes at ARC Music Festival
After a successful inaugural launch, ARC Music Festival is making its grand return for a second year. The 2021 debut conjured the old-school spirit of house music in the genre’s birthplace connecting communities from around the globe in a way that paid respect to the visionary history of house music in Chicago.
While enormous artists like Carl Cox, Charlotte de Witte, Enrico Sangiuliano, and Richie Hawtin will headline the weekend, it’s the hometown heroes that ARC continues to deliver on. Paying respect to the underground heroes that are the engine of the culture, these artists prove why Chitown is the home of house music. We’ve selected ten Chicago-born and bred artists gracing the ARC Stages to show us why the Chicago music scene is where it’s at.
Azzecca is a modern-day Chi-town queen who commands the dance floor with her diverse music library. She can be seen not just playing but in the crowd in Chicago’s Spy Bar or one of the numerous underground clubs. Her love for house, techno, and the filmier sides of dance and disco drive her as a DJ and producer. Via her exceptional technique and reflective selections, Azzecca has a remarkable ability to take crowds on incredible adventures through genres and emotions.
Chip E is one of the OG Chicago house legends. In the early 80s, he played a pivotal role in defining the genre. He was a focal DJ on Chicago’s leading radio stations (WBMX, WGCI-FM, and B96) and a critical collaborator on Frankie Knuckles’s first records. He’s a keystone in the building blocks of House, credited with coining the use of the terms “House” and “Jack” on his legendary and highly coveted first album, “Jack Trax.” His production has earned him esteem with artists such as Michael McDonald, Fleetwood Mac, and Prince. In 2017, he signed a licensing and distribution deal with Universal Music Group to reissue his classic catalog. He can be found globally touring and coming to life on the festival circuit when not producing.
DJ and producer Derrick Carter is regarded as one of the best to come out of Chicago. Getting a start as a teenager in his bedroom, he stepped into the Chicago house scene in the 90s, playing as a featured artist in local record stores and venues. Carter cemented his star status with pioneering tracks on his label Classic Recordings and Green Velvet’s Cajual. Known for freely traveling outside conformative club tastes in his production and DJ sets, he seamlessly incorporates old-school disco, soul, jazz, and whatever catches his fancy to jack the beat and rock the party. His refusal to obey conventional standards has garnered him worldwide standing as an underground pioneer and a megastar among dance-music aficionados.
Joseph Manumaleuna, aka DJ Hyperactive, began to imprint his legacy on the scene in the early 90s from the south side of Chicago. He’s best known for epic house and techno sets reflective of his diverse musical roots. On top of playing legendary rooms like Tresor and Berghain in Berlin, Output in New York, and Liquid Room in Tokyo, his incredible work as a producer, spans over 100 astounding remixes and original tracks. He’s released seminal classics like “Venus” and “Wide Open” on Droid Recordings and “Music Box” on his label 4 Track Recordings. With a career going 30 years strong, DJ Hyperactive is showing no signs of slowing.
DJ Lady D
DJ Lady D is best known for her charismatic sets blending house, disco, and open-format for various events globally and the most notable Chicago clubs and events, including North Coast, West Loop Arts, Westfest, Noise Pop, House of Sol, Summerdance, Chosen Few, Wanderlust, SXSW, and Lollapalooza. A creator at heart, she founded premiere house music label and marketing group D’lectable Music where she curates events and produces and remixes music. As an advocate for women in dance music, Lady D is a founding member of SuperJane, self-described as America’s first all-women DJ collective it includes DJ Colette, DJ Heather, and Dayhota. Listed by EDM.com as one of the most influential Black artists from Chicago. she is holding down the house as one of the city’s most beloved and in-demand personalities.
As a global ambassador of Chicago’s classic house music sound, Gene Farris has spiritedly contributed to this century’s evolving house and techno culture. A staple of the legendary underground warehouse parties, He started spinning acid house, disco, and Chicago style in the 90s. His early success propelled him into residencies at some of the city’s most notable clubs, including the AKA Club and Boom Boom Room. A self-taught engineer and producer, he’s worked with prominent labels such as Cajual, Relief Records, Defected Records, Soma Recordings, and his breakout label Farris Wheel Recordings. His productions have propelled his influence into ever-expanding realms producing bangers that give new life to classic sounds. Gene is a gift to the scene sharing his wealth of house music knowledge with the world.
Honey Dijon had carved a distinct niche for herself in the world of underground cross-genre sets. She started spinning records in her parent’s basement and discovered a passion for crate-digging in some of the most illustrious Chicago record stores. Her love runs deep, and her influence brings a unique perspective and experience to her productions. Honey has also been highly active at the intersection of fashion and music. And as a transgender icon is an advocate for LGBTQ issues in club culture. Honey Dijon’s brazen style blends all genres with a vision for the future of dance music. She enchants with her intuitive ability to move any dancefloor and has a versatility that dazzles.
Chicago house music legend Mike Dunn has been DJing and producing music for over twenty years. He started at local block parties with a unique blend of disco, funk, soul, and prototype Chicago house tracks. His first release, “Dance You Mutha” on Westbrook Records, kicked off his career as a producer, engineer, and vocalist and led to his collaboration with multiple artists and labels throughout the 80s and 90s. In 2021 his iconic track “God Made Me Phunky” was re-released on Defected Records with a remix from Eats Everything, reintroducing him to a new generation of house heads and raising his profile. This propelled him to begin touring again globally, headlining venues such as Panorama Bar, Concrete, Fabric, and Sub Club and playing festivals such as Glastonbury and Electric Forrest.
Ron Carroll’s love for music started as a choir boy and grew as a fan of bands like Kiss. But a high school dance party changed his life when he discovered a love for house music while watching a local DJ perform. After opening a club in the late 80s, he took the opportunity to try his hand at mixing. However, he is best known for his vocal performances and production of dance classics. Some of his biggest hits are his 00’s era collaboration with Superfunk, “Lucky Star,” “Back Together” with Hardsoul, and his biggest hit, “Wonderful World” with Axwell and Bob Sinclar. As a DJ, Ron has kept dance floors moving worldwide, combining DJing and live vocals. When not performing, Carroll spends his time running his three labels ElectricDiscoPussy, Chi City Music, and RCM.
Mark Farina has solidified himself in dance music as a trailblazing DJ, producer, tastemaker, and bona fide house music icon. After three decades of crisscrossing the globe playing hundreds of shows a year, he shows no signs of slowing down. As an early house music frontiersperson, Farina’s history includes a long-standing residency at Smart Bar in Chicago and a position at the legendary Gramaphone Records. In the 90s, Mark pushed musical boundaries and blended hip hop with downtempo grooves to create an entirely new genre, “Mushroom Jazz.” With a tireless passion for playing extended sets, B2B shows with fellow house music icons, and a habit of playing both of his signature styles on two stages on the same night, Farina continues to entertain fans all over the globe.
A lifelong fixation with dance music and over a decade of experience behind the decks has created one of Chicago’s most in-demand up-and-coming DJ and Producers. Eric Zingsheim, aka DangerWayne, is known for reading a crowd and flexing between multiple genres. He’s a regular feature in Chicago’s hottest venues, such as Tao, Spybar, and Prysm. Danger Wayne has had the honor to warm things up for various house music legends such as Tiesto, Deadmau5, and Kaskade.
Dani Deahl is an icon of modern dance music. She fluidly floats between multiple roles at the intersection of music, culture, and technology. Currently the President of the Chicago chapter of the Recording Academy, she’s a tireless advocate for increasing the footprint of dance music on the Grammys. As a journalist, she’s exposed the delicate ties that bind music to technology through her work at the Verge and the YouTube series “The Future of Music.” And she’s long been a champion of creating more space for women in music. With a resume that runs this deep, it’s hard to imagine that she has any spare time, but she’s managed to build a heralded career as a DJ and producer with a Billboard-charting tune and nearly two decades of experience behind the decks to her name.