RA In Residence heads to a legendary London club.
In 2016, RA's In Residence series is celebrating club culture by throwing a month of parties at 12 of the world's best clubs. Clubs are the beating heart of dance music, and these are the venues that keep their local scenes thriving. Week-in, week-out, they open their doors to play the music we love.
As we settle in for a month at each of the clubs, we'll be running features that, through a combination of different media, aim to provide lasting documents of these iconic spaces.
fabric is, simply, one of the best nightclubs there has ever been. Arguably no other club has done so much, for so long, and influenced so many people. It's almost crazy when you write it down. Two weekly parties. Three rooms. Up to 1500 people. For 17 years. This is testament to an incredibly dedicated team of people and an unshakable commitment to pushing things forward.
Of course, our In Residence parties won't actually take place at fabric. The club has just emerged from its most turbulent chapter, following its closure in August, an ensuing court battle, and Islington council's eventual decision to allow it to reopen in January. It's almost certain this decision would not have been reached if it weren't for the outpouring of public support fabric received. There are many reasons why so many people rallied behind saving fabric these past few months, but at the root of it was a collective realisation that fabric represented the very essence of club culture.
Dec 17 RA in Residence: fabric in collaboration with The Hydra, Studio Spaces E1, London feat. Jeff Mills, Craig Richards b2b Ben UFO, James Ruskin b2b Blawan, Head High, DJ Stingray, Ancient Methods (live), dBridge, SAOIRSE
- 01Address77A Charterhouse Street, London, UK
- 02Club opened1999
- 03SoundsystemMartin Audio, Pioneer
- 05Resident DJsCraig Richards, Terry Francis
- 06Music policyUnderground electronic music
Like everyone at fabric, Keith Reynolds has his work cut out in the preparation for the club's reopening. In particular, he's busy hiring—ideally trying to get his core team of lighting and sound freelancers back together. That's quite a responsibility. If you're talking about fabric, it's not long before the subject of soundsystems comes up. The club is renowned for its impeccable sound. Room 1, in particular, is held up as beacon of exceptional audio quality. With sub-bass drivers under the floor, the systems are perfectly tuned to deliver not just the most brutal Andy C double-drops, but also the finest of psychedelic detail in an epic Ricardo Villalobos set.
"One of the sound guys is desperate to come back, because he's hating it out there," smiles Reynolds. "He's been with us for seven years, so he's just hating all the other jobs that he's getting in comparison."
It's doubly important that everyone is ready. There's a new soundsystem in place in Room 2, a Pioneer Pro Audio rig with 26 speakers encircling the dance floor. "Wherever you stand in the room, it sounds exactly the same," Reynolds says. "Which is quite a hard achievement." He gives a look of exasperation as he recounts ripping out the old system and replacing it, with a team of three, in just five days—"where most big clubs would take months for an install"—so that fabric could open as normal on the Friday (only for the club's license to be revoked just over a week later).
Reynolds has been in the music scene since the '80s, cut his clubbing teeth at Edinburgh's notorious Pure nights led by Twitch (later of Optimo) and Brainstorm, and nights at the Sub Club in Glasgow. After getting hooked on sound tech and learning his craft, he ended up doing sound for bands, but also at clubs like Metalheadz where he worked for years. "If you can do a Metalheadz night and get it right, then you've passed! One of our other guys here had done their sessions, so he was perfect for the job, he just walked straight in."
Reynolds started freelancing for fabric in 2002, and worked his way up, eventually becoming the technical manager last year. During the week, he consults with DJs on their setup, software is updated, hardware is brought in, "so they know they can walk in and start instantly if they have to." At night, there are up to seven technical staff, with a sound and a light technician for each room, plus more if there are live acts. "It's worth the extra money to be certain that if something goes wrong, nobody has to try and fix it while doing another job," he says. "It's an extra demand on the club's budget, but I've never had any complaint from the guys about it." The Room 2 reinstall notwithstanding, he, like so many people at fabric, sees his job as a matter of keeping things rolling and maintaining the highest possible standards.
Since fabric opened on October 21st, 1999, Terry Francis has, along with Craig Richards, played almost every Saturday night at the club. Over the years, the bookings have spanned an incredibly vast range of music, but the deep, sophisticated, groove-led style these two DJs embody has sat at the very centre of this sonic constellation. His In Residence mix, recorded this past weekend at the #Saveourculture event at Great Suffolk St Warehouse in London, shows that more 20 years into his DJing career, Francis is still at the very top of his game.