From Mardi Gras and Sydney’s house heyday to treechange: Meet the festival’s opening night DJ Mark Faunt

Mark Faunt is from Bellingen and has been DJing for almost three decades. He grew up in Darlinghurst, Sydney, at the heart of the 80s and 90s house music movement, and watched the Mardi Gras grow from a tiny activist parade into the international event it is today. 

He played at and worked in the precinct’s stalwart venues, including Kinsellas, DCM, Club 77, Q Bar, Green Park Hotel and Darlo Bar, as well as regular radio shows at Bondi FM and 2ser, playing the gamut of hip hop to house to ambient. He made the tree change to the Mid North Coast four years ago. Mark will be one of SWIFF’s festival DJs, playing at Opening Night afterparty and the SWIFF outdoor bar. We catch up with him to get his story…

“I grew up in Darlinghurst at Taylor Square in the early 80s. My mum owned and operated a video shop called Video Capers (yes, the one from Muriel’s Wedding). Her shop was well-known for its cult-art movie collection and people used to travel from all over NSW just for her choice of movies.

“Those were some very tragic times in the gay community but also liberation was at hand. As I was growing up I discovered music, and through it I just wanted to communicate love, feeling energy, that it’s OK to be yourself in all your vulnerabilities, insecurities and doubts, be yourself without fear.

“This is my driving force with playing music. It is unbiased, breaks down the barriers of human interactions and connects everyone no matter where you are from. A simple smile, a good tune a good vibe, and all your problems start to seem a little less relevant.

“At this point I was into hip-hop and into scratching and tricks on the turntables and entered the 1988 DMC DJ Championships at Base nightclub, I can’t remember exactly but I think I came 3rd or something like that. Exciting times.

“I do remember when the second Mardi Gras parade was on. I put my speakers out onto the roof of the shop as it was on Oxford Street, and played to the parade. It was the best night. This was way before it was such a popular event – at the time the only point of the parade was liberation and raising awareness.

“I love vinyl and always will, but I’m trying new ways. CDJs have a better sound reproduction and are easy to work with but nothing beats vinyl  – the smell, the feel, the sound.

“My style is not defined in any way, I love all music within in reason and respect all types, but particularly love house music, ambient and chill but I play how I feel how the crowd feels.

“I’m really looking forward to being part SWIFF and seeing the Coffs Coast community coming together during the best part of the year in this region.”

You can catch Mark Faunt playing at the Opening Night afterparty in Jetty Theatre foyer on Wednesday 10 January (bar open till late), and at our official SWIFF outdoor bar presented by Coopers. Buy Opening Night tickets here