Interview: Gene Farris & Kid Enigma

Ask anyone about the early days of house music, or dance music in general, and it won’t take them long to mention Chicago. The city was a key player in growth of the genre during early ‘80s, so much so that it even has its own sub-genre.

Fast forward a few decades, and the Chicago club scene continues to thrive, with two of the cities current talents coming in the form of Gene Farris, and Kid Enigma.

The pairs “David Copperfield” collaboration recently arrived on Gene’s Farris Wheel Recordings imprint, where past outings have also come from Sonny Fodera, Cajmere, and Supernova.

We sat down with them both to hear their thoughts on the new track, which labels they might be releasing on soon, which Chicago-based artists they think are set for big things, and more!

Your new collaboration “David Copperfield” recently dropped on Farris Wheel Recordings, describe the track in your own words?

Gene Farris: First off I would like to say Keith (Kid Enigma) and I have been brainstorming on working together and making something special for years. We finally got together and made this tune, and it’s some of the best work I’ve done in years.

I’m very proud of this record and very proud of how incredible Kid Enigma was on the vocals and the writing skills, we both gave our hearts to this record. If one word could describe this tune, it would be “RAW”.

Kid Enigma: The last 15 months were very rough. I’ve experienced loss in my family and my community. On top of that, the toll that it took on my mental health was even worse, but once I came out of it, I was able to see things for what they really were and understand what’s important.

“David Copperfield” is the by-product of the realization I came to after I noticed that there were a lot of magicians in my circle performing disappearing acts. Gene was extremely welcoming to the idea. He strong-armed it into an amazing production, and my team and I were totally awestruck. Fuego!

And it comes as a single, was there any talk of making it an EP with more originals or remixes?

GF: I would be totally up for that if we can get some quality producers on the project.

KE: We didn’t discuss it in depth, but we are both totally up for that. I would love to hear a deep take and a tribal take.

Between yourselves you have released tracks on Toolroom, Dirtybird, Repopulate Mars, and other labels, what’s one of the main things you look for in a label when considering them for a release?

GF: The first thing I look at is 1. Do you honestly love the song? 2. Does your label have the capability to distribute this piece of art properly? 3. Do I fit with your label family?

KE: Gene really nailed it for the both of us. It’s all about the synergy and them valuing my work as a piece of art.

And which other labels can we expect to see you on in the coming months?

GF: Island, Toolroom, Saved, and Farris Wheel.

KE: You can expect to see me on Sink or Swim, I/AM/ME, Robsoul, Moulton Music, and Farris Wheel Recordings.

You’re both from Chicago, a city which had a massive influence on the early progression of house music, what are some of the earliest memories you have of the genre?

GF: This question makes me feel old lol. Let’s just say I’ve been blessed to see some of the finest Djs to have ever walk the earth, and I’m also blessed to call some of them friends. My earliest memory is in 1983, learning to DJ and buying my first record – Kraftwerk’s Computer World album.

KE: Yes, Chicago is the mecca of house music and I am blessed to have been born and raised in the Windy City. One of my earliest memories is from when I was in high school and I used to walk across the street to Hot Jams Records where Andre, Steve Melvage, and Frankie Vega would pick records out for me and play them while they told me about the parties they were DJing at.

I would then take the train to Gramaphone Records where Michael Serafini greeted me with open arms and used to pull piles of records out for me to listen to. Michaels recommendations were always filled with gems. I truly treasure those visits.

And which Chicago natives do you think are destined for big things in a few years time?

GF: John Summit, Hiroko Yamaura, Steve Gerard, and Karsten Sollors.

KE: I agree with Gene’s list, with the addition of Local Options, L3XX, Adorio, JuJu, Ed Nine, James Dean, and eleven11 – they have heart.

The past few weeks have seen dancefloors slowly open up around the world, what’s the one thing you missed most about being in the DJ booth during the pandemic?

GF: Seeing everyone’s faces again and watching all the people go on a journey together with you and each other through the music! It’s good to be back.

KE: What I missed most is speaking with the crowd and thanking them for spending their time with me. I missed the energy exchange, where we could all let go of the troubles of our everyday lives and sweat the stress away on the dance floor. I missed dancing.

And what’s one new skill you picked up while in lockdown?

GF: I learned how to fly a plane on my flight simulator!

KE: I learned how to do my daughters hair. It’s all about the little things.

Gene Farris & Kid Enigma – David Copperfield is out now on Farris Wheel Recordings.