From Raver to Renaissance Man: Marco Faraone Unfiltered
Jan 29, 2024
15 min read
Whether you first discovered him tearing it up at legendary Tuscan superclub Tenax or holding it down during long summer nights at Amnesia Ibiza, the Italian vet Marco Faraone has been one of dance music's most consistently brilliant selectors for over a decade. What began as a youthful passion cultivated in the underground dance floors of his native town Lucca, has blossomed into over 15 years of global success.
Fast forward to today, and Faraone has well and truly delivered on that potential with a storied career taking in residencies at legendary venues around the globe and an impressive catalog of releases that showcase his mastery of groove-led techno and house. But as this exclusive new interview reveals, it's his passion, work ethic and fearless creativity that truly set him apart.
Take UNCAGE, his own influential imprint which has become an incubator for fresh talent. Faraone radiates pride when discussing the new voices he's been able to champion over the years. Or the experimental albums that push him out of comfort zones - like 2020's genre-melting No Filter LP or his Hope album. This is an artist always hungry to surprise himself, a rarity in such a saturated industry.
Of course, a career highlight was undoubtedly making his debut at Ibizan heavyweight Amnesia - a club close to Faraone's heart. Our talk touches on industry changes too, but it's clear his focus remains on the purity of the art form and underground spirit. With global rides booked well into next year and more boundary-shattering music in the works, the only way is up for this seasoned soul man. Two decades in, he remains a master of his environment - both in the booth and out. The man simply knows how to keep us all dancing.
How did your early experiences in Florence's Tenax club shape your approach to techno music?
Florence, particularly Tenax Club, is where I fell in love with electronic music. I come from a small town in Italy called Lucca, where, back in the days, we didn't have a music scene, just some private parties. I started DJ'ing when I was 14, so I was quite young. People would travel to cities like Florence to go out and dance, but I was too young to move from my city. Tenax Club was the first real club I went to with my friends. I vividly remember the night that sparked my love for electronic music.
It was a New Year's Eve party in 2006 with Laurent Garnier. I was around 17 or 18, not even old enough to get into the club due to the strict selection at the door. I had to hide in the queue and try to get in with my older friends, avoiding the door selection. I was there as a customer, buying my ticket to have fun. That night at Tenax, especially the party with Laurent Garnier, changed my life.
What inspired you to start the UNCAGE label, and what's your vision for its future?
When I started DJ'ing and producing music, I always gave my tracks to other labels. When you work with other labels, you sometimes need to adapt your music so that the label likes it. I started UNCAGE because, after many years of releasing music on various labels, I wanted to share my musical message by releasing music I loved without trying to please someone else. UNCAGE was started to express my own music and ideas, and to believe in new talents, releasing them alongside established names. We've released artists like Radio Slave and Mark Broom, and we've given many new artists their first opportunity to shine. This makes me proud because, when I started DJ'ing, I wished for such an opportunity. It was tough back then.
Starting UNCAGE, we've helped many new artists gain a position in the music scene. This year, we're receiving many requests for label showcases, as the label is gaining a following and we've found our sound. We're working hard, and I believe this year will be our best yet, with many offers for label nights. I'm excited to build these up and give these artists a chance to play and show the world their talent behind the decks.
What has been the most memorable moment in your career so far?
Actually, I have a few. When I started DJ'ing, I was just a kid from a small town in Italy, Lucca, dreaming big. We didn't have much of a music scene, just some private parties. So, when I played my first all-night-long set at Tenax, it was a memorable moment. Coming from a small town and getting to play there as a resident, then having a sold-out all-night-long set was a dream come true. Another unforgettable moment was the first time I played on the Terrace at Amnesia in Ibiza.
I first visited Amnesia when I was 18 or 19, just a kid dreaming of playing there one day. Years later, after much hard work and sacrifice, I found myself in the DJ booth at Amnesia, playing in front of thousands. What could be more memorable than that?
How do you see the techno scene evolving, and what role do you want to play in it?
The techno scene has changed a lot, especially in terms of music and event dynamics. Nowadays, artists are often booked based on ticket sales rather than just their music. This puts pressure on artists to produce music that will sell well on charts and streaming platforms. It's a shift from when techno was new and represented freedom and expression. Now, there's a concern about how well your music will perform in the market. This change has made the genre more commercial. Techno used to be more underground, for a specific community, but it's become more mainstream with the influence of social media and prominent artists.
My role is to share my experience with artists who follow my musical vision and my label, UNCAGE. We've signed many artists who started their journey with us, and I always try to give them my tips and ideas, helping them to be the best they can be. I also aim to understand new generations and listen to their ideas, as we never stop learning in this industry. My mission is to discover new artists, contribute the best music I can, and maintain a successful label with a strong sound identity.
What's the story behind your first ever track release, and how do you feel about it now?
Before I answer, I need to mention that I have a rich musical background, as my father was a music selector for a radio station back in the 80s. So, I was born surrounded by music, and my father greatly influenced my musical tastes from a young age. In my hometown, we didn't have much in terms of music – no clubs, just private parties. My first EP was released around 2006 when minimal music was leading the industry. It came out on a small local label from Italy and was a minimal release. I'm not really proud of it technically, as my skills have significantly improved over the years.
However, it's a part of my journey. I'm proud of the entire journey I've created with my music. You can find a variety of genres in my catalog – techno, house, ambient, electronica, deep house. What I'm most proud of is the contribution I've made to music and what I will contribute in the future.
How do you keep your sets fresh and exciting for both new and returning fans?
It's a lot of work. I'm a versatile artist who loves playing everything from house to techno. My performances reflect this diversity. I love creating a unique journey every time I play, and it's rare to hear me play the same set in different venues. Each moment needs a unique experience. I download over 300-400 tracks a week, including promos and demos for my label. I have someone helping me with this because being a dad, DJ, and producer takes a lot of work.
I personally listen to every single track. Since I play both house and techno, I have to listen to a wide range of music. Sometimes, I find something interesting and make edits that I use exclusively in my DJ sets. It's always a challenge to go through all this music, but it's amazing to see what's coming out. This is how I keep my sets fresh for both newcomers and long-time followers.
What's one piece of advice you wish you had received when starting your DJ career?
Firstly, eat healthily while touring. It pays off in the long term. Eating out all the time seems fun, but it's not healthy, especially when you're playing 15-20 shows a month. Secondly, sleep whenever possible. It's the best thing you can do for your concentration and mindset in the studio. A healthy lifestyle is key to success in this industry.
Can you share an experience that significantly influenced your musical style?
The first significant moment was when I went to Ibiza for the first time. It completely opened my mind. I visited clubs like Amnesia, DC-10, and Space, which was amazing back then. This experience was crucial for my musical growth, as Ibiza is where you learn what's happening in the world of music. It's where everyone from every part of the world goes each summer, and all the best DJs play. You can hear what's new and what's the sound of the moment. Leaving my region to go to Ibiza was like going to paradise, listening to different DJs and getting motivated to experiment with something new.
I'm really thankful for what I learned in Ibiza over the years. Another pivotal moment was the first time I played at Panorama Bar at Berghain in Berlin when I was 23, almost 10 years ago. Playing there confirmed that what I was doing was right. I was proud when I saw the crowd's reaction to my music in such a legendary place. That set has been recorded and is online on SoundCloud. It boosted my motivation and reaffirmed my belief in my path.
What's the most unexpected source of inspiration you've encountered?
The biggest source of inspiration for me nowadays is my little daughter. Waking up and seeing her smile is an indescribable feeling. It's the biggest source of inspiration and motivation, happiness, and love. It's everything. When you say everything, it truly is. She brings me motivation to make music, to go to the studio. If I have a bad day, just looking at her makes me happy again. My family, in general, is my biggest source of inspiration. Having my daughter and my wife next to me is everything. It's quite an emotional thing to talk about.
How do you approach collaborations with other artists, and who would be your dream collaborator?
For collaborations, the approach is to see if something interesting can come from a fusion of my style and the other artist's. It needs to create a special alchemy. Also, having a good personal connection with the artist can translate into the music. As for my dream collaborations, I have a few. Depeche Mode and Radiohead are on the list. I love Fred again and Four Tet. If I have to choose someone closer to my genre, it would be making music or playing a back-to-back set with Laurent Garnier, my favorite DJ. That would be a dream come true.
What's a common misconception about being a techno DJ/producer that you'd like to dispel?
I think the most important thing to understand is that many people don't see this as a job. They think we're just having fun, traveling the world, posting photos on Instagram, and going on vacation. What they often don't realize is that our schedule is packed – we touch down at the hotel, take a shower, go for dinner, head to the club, and then fly straight after the show to another city for another dinner, shower, and show. It's like 'eat, sleep, rave, repeat.'
So, while some people think it's all fun, there's a lot of sacrifice behind it – missing time with family, loved ones, hobbies, and personal life. There's stress, anxiety, and constant pressure to perform and create music. We're like machines, but we're also human with feelings. Being a techno DJ is beautiful, but it comes with a lot of sacrifices.
How do you think your Italian heritage influences your music, if at all?
I'm really proud to be Italian and to translate this into my music. Italian producers and DJs are recognized for the groove in our DNA, something you can't buy. You can have the best studio equipment, but you can't buy a heart full of soul and swing. Our origin gives us the groove. Italy has a rich dance and house music background, and this energy is absorbed and transmitted through our music. It's something inherent from our beginnings. Of course, artists from the UK, Berlin, or Detroit have other skills and talents, but what we Italians have is the groove, possibly due to our Latin origins, communication style, or even our good food haha.
What's one venue or festival you haven't played yet but are eager to?
One of my dreams is to play at Coachella. And speaking of festivals, I've never played at Time Warp, one of the most iconic techno festivals. It's one of the biggest events I haven't yet played at. I believe good things take time, and you get them when you truly deserve them. If you deserve them, you'll enjoy what you're doing.
Outside of music, what are your passions or hobbies?
Sometimes I sit in the studio and make different kinds of music, like ambient, which is completely different from what I usually do. This is always something I really enjoy. I released an album during the pandemic called Hope, which is based on electronic and ambient cinematic music. It was a special challenge for me to explore different musical styles.
Being in the studio is like a hobby for me, akin to playing a sport. But I also enjoy other activities that take me away from my routine. I love going out for walks, watching movies, and I'm really passionate about food and cuisine. However, it's a bit of a problem when touring because we should eat less.
If you could have dinner with any three people, living or dead, who would they be and why?
Okay, let's mix this up with personal and musical feelings. The first one would be my wife because I just love having dinner with her. The second would be my grandfather. He was a musician and folk singer before he passed away and was the one who shared his passion for music with my dad, who then passed it on to me. He bought me my first mixer when I was getting into DJ'ing.
I often think about how proud he would be to see me today, recognized as an international DJ and producer. I always imagine he can see me from the sky, but I would love to have dinner with him to show him what I've achieved. I'm sure he would be super proud. The third choice is more artistically connected to my music. It would be Laurent Garnier. I'm sure I would learn something and be mesmerized by his stories and experiences as a renowned artist who has traveled the world for many years.
We always chat by email, and he's been supporting my music, sharing beautiful messages. I'm sad that I haven't had the chance to hang out with him for dinner even once, so that would be amazing.
Finally, if you weren't a DJ/producer, what career path do you think you would have followed?
If I weren't a DJ or producer, I would probably be a graphic designer. I really love graphic design, and I even studied it for a part of my life. I genuinely enjoy it. As a real lover of food, another option might have been a chef. However, I'm sure that to cook like a professional chef, you need to dedicate your entire life to it, just as I did with music and DJ'ing. Being a proper chef requires a long time to learn. Who knows, maybe if I weren't a DJ, I might have dedicated myself to learning how to cook and become a five-star Michelin chef.