“The future isn’t my strong point,” he remarks with a chuckle. “I try and have some kind of an idea of where I’m going, but currently I’m really happy with where I am. I don’t necessarily see everything as having to be a growth cycle. Treading water can be fine too. I think it’s really important to recognize things when they’re good. And right now my life’s fantastic and I really enjoy what I do. I’m certainly not a lazy or unmotivated person, but I’ve never aspired to having a job. I spent a long time at art school and that trains you for a different style of self employment. So I try not to think of what I do as being a career let alone a job. Much of the motivation and work ethic I have stems from art school because everything there is self initiated as has to be that way.”
Richard’s artistic talent extends beyond the realms of dance music. Commercial design projects with beer company Sapporo, clothing designer Paul Smith, Absolute Vodka and even the front cover of Groove Armada’s ‘Back To Mine’ compilation peppering his resume. Yet while music has become his livelihood, his interests remain multi-dimensional. “I have a studio I work in during the week painting, drawing, taking photographs…and making a bit of music,” he adds almost as an afterthought. “Then on the weekends I play records. It couldn’t be better. So I’m aware of how lucky I am. I’ve had opportunities to push it further and take it to another level in terms of reaching a wider audience but I’ve resisted that. There was a point three or four years ago when I was playing quite a few gigs and there was a lot of interest being shown in me. The gigs seemed to be getting bigger and bigger but my enjoyment became less and less. And I believe I am still taking what I do to another level in a creative sense. I’m going to try and do a book this year of my drawings and photographs and maybe accompany it with music if I can and release it through my label. Undoubtedly, it won’t be a massive seller and I’ll be lucky if it breaks even, but I am comfortable with that.”
You may have missed the casual reference to ‘playing records on weekends’ slipped in a few sentences ago, but it is his weekly residency at Fabric that has seen Richard’s reach cult status in the UK and beyond. “I play there every Saturday and have done so for four and a half year,” he says proudly of this institution that is as much a part of him as he is of it. “I did a lot of touring before Fabric started, but I’m pretty selective about where I play now as Fabric is really the gig of my dreams and I hate missing a night there. The sound system is amazing and I can play all sorts of different styles in three different rooms. So it doesn’t feel like the same gig for me every week anyway. One room is deeper with a warmer sound. Another is tougher, grittier and edgier with a tighter sound system with mainly techno and electro being played. And the smallest of the rooms is funky and you can really play whatever you want. The most important thing for me was that it was a residency, rather than just being asked to be the resident. In certain ways it’s one and the same, but what I mean is that the night was built around Terry Francis and myself, rather than us just being two geezers who play there every week and fit in around the guests. We help program, invite people we want to play with us and generally have a big say in how the night is run. The people who come to the club now are a crowd who know what they’re getting themselves into when they enter Fabric and are into the music we play, as the DJs please themselves now, rather than pandering to the whims of the crowd. Everyone stuck to their guns, and I think that, along with the amazing sound system, is a big part of why Fabric is still so popular. “
Not content with being one of the world’s leading clubs, Fabric is also well known for its prolific CD series, commended by fan and critic alike for their constant high quality no matter what the genre. Richard’s ‘Fabric 15’ is no different, and more than any other CD in the series, it is as close to an extension of the club as you can get without being there. “Initially I had a deal with Fabric where the Tyrant CDs were autonomous, but we decided to do this one as part of the series. In fact, it’s the first double CD in the series. It represents two different sides of what I do. CD One represents the more minimal, stripped back dance floor nature of Room One at 6am, when things are allowed to go a bit deeper and the people left are there for the music and aren’t going home. They’ll go with you wherever you take them. It comes at you slowly and stays on a groove. It’s about the space between the sounds and the introduction of the sounds being quite gradual and subtle as at that time of the morning people are listening very intently.”
“CD Two is definitely the more eclectic of them. DJing is all about ‘what comes next’ and with the second CD my goal was to keep people guessing. Yet the second CD still presents a cohesive listening experience and is not so random and all over the place to prevent people from enjoying it as there is still a common thread.”
Fabric 15 is out now through Fabric/DMC.