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Gene Farris: “What makes you different will be your biggest asset”

Gene Farris lives and breathes house music. A bonafide Chicago legend, he’s been pushing musical boundaries for close to three decades, from spinning at underground warehouse parties in the early 90s to working with the current crop of world-leading labels and artists.

Relief, Dirtybird, ViVa Music, and Defected all have released and championed Gene Farris’ records over the past few years, alongside his own Farris Wheel imprint: a fitting testament to the quality and relevance of the music he creates.

Fresh from his performance at the Desert Hearts FestivalGene Farris caught up with EG to talk about his set, his label Farris Wheel Recordings, authenticity, and more.

EG: Hi Gene, it’s a pleasure to have you on EG. Where are you right now?

Gene Farris: Hello there. Just returning home from the Desert Hearts Festival at the LA Coliseum.

EG: Sounds great. How was the Desert Hearts Festival? 

Gene Farris: It was amazing! Wow! The crowd there was spectacular and very responsive and engaging I loved every minute of it and I got a chance to test out a few new unreleased tunes coming out later this year.

EG: As an artist who has been in the music industry for over three decades now, how do you stay motivated and creative after all this time?

Gene Farris: I believe it’s the same with anyone in love with their job, like LeBron or Michael Jordan for example. It’s not hard about being motivated to go to work when you’re doing something you’re passionate about and something you wanna share with the world.

EG: Your music style covers a wide range of genres, from acid house to techno to disco. How do you choose which direction to take your music in?

Gene Farris: I just try to play good music and not really concern myself so much with genres. There are lines I won’t cross obviously, because there are some genres I’m just not into. It doesn’t mean there’s not good music in these genres but it’s just not my thing. I tend to gravitate to things that have some kinda soul and/or Chicago similarities to things I’ve heard throughout my years of performing.

“I’ve tried to plan sets and it never works. The people decide the vibe they want at the end of the day, I believe”

EG: You are known for your high-energy live performances, what is your favorite thing about performing for a live audience?

Gene Farris: It’s the energy exchange between me and the crowd, it’s one of my favorite things. On most nights it’s like a beautiful tennis match where the energy is just going back and forth between myself and the crowd, it’s one of the best feelings ever.

EG: How do you approach your DJ sets, do you have a specific process for selecting tracks or is it more of a spontaneous selection?

Gene Farris: It’s completely spontaneous selecting. I usually have a few tracks that I wanna play, but other than that, it’s completely on the fly. I’ve tried to plan sets and it never works. The people decide the vibe they want at the end of the day, I believe. You can have a blueprint but it is best to be able to adapt to any situation.

EG: Now let’s talk about your label Farris Wheel Recordings. It has been releasing quality music for many years now, what do you look for in an artist when deciding to sign them to the label?

Gene Farris: Thanks I appreciate that recognition, we have been working really hard to make Farris Wheel a strong quality label. When deciding on an artist, I usually pick unique, quality tunes that I would honestly play in my sets and have some kind of swing, funk, soul, and are a bit of a party starter.

EG: What new releases are coming out this summer?

Gene Farris: We got a few big tunes coming this summer, especially one from Damelo & Encore called ‘Cartagena’. I’m really excited about that tune.

EG: On another topic, what has been your biggest challenge as a DJ and producer so far and how did you overcome it?

Gene Farris: Staying relevant and not falling into a clique. The way I’ve overcome that was just staying true to myself and my values and if I have friendships they’re genuine and not built on someone’s popularity in this business. My friends in this industry are truly my friends, it doesn’t matter how big or how small they are, it is what it is and it’s genuine. I have no beef with anyone and I get along with mostly everybody and that for me is more than enough. I don’t need to be in a clique to be relevant.

EG: With the current state of the music industry, what advice would you give to up-and-coming DJs and producers?

Gene Farris: Stay consistent with your sound and keep trying to perfect it and grow it. Always remember what makes you different will be your biggest asset, not how your songs sound like someone else.

“My friends in this industry are truly my friends, it doesn’t matter how big or how small they are, it is what it is and it’s genuine”

EG: What’s your take on Social Media and how does it affect the music scene?

Gene Farris: I think it’s part of the world right now and it is what it is, you just have to be able to see the difference between the real ones and the fake ones, no matter how attractive they may be. Fads come and go, the real ones last the test of time.

EG: Can you share with us something that nobody knows?

Gene Farris: Nobody knows I’m 6’5

EG: Thanks for the time and all the best!

Gene Farris: Thank you, guys, so much. Keep a look out for my tunes this year! Blessings!

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