Whether a record is considered minimal is highly subjective: for me its the opposite of busy and cluttered, and my enjoyment comes from that sense of space; he gaps between the sounds being as important to the atmosphere as the sounds themselves.
6 years after he joined Fabric as the East London clubs biggest name in-house weekly DJ, Craig Richards remains at the heart of the clubs line-up as well as its best known purveyor of minimal. Not thats hes foolish enough to pinned down as such.
My taste in music is far too eclectic to specialise in any one form of music and for me the juxtaposition of different styles is where the excitement lies; minimal techno after hard techno, for instance, is most entertaining, each allowing the other to breathe, he continues.
Acceptance of all forms of quality music enhances our understanding of music as a whole. Empty fields AND busy streets are equal in appeal.
Chatting to DJ magazine last month he cheerfully admitted that many find minimal music dreary and dull a point hes happy to repeat.
My point was that its not for everybody. This music may be fashionable but it certainly isnt new. As a DJ who plays from the heart, I hope that the audience shares my enthusiasm. This is, after all, a sub genre of techno. Im not convinced that the genre is fashionable as much as the word, records from Germany have become popular.
Minimal talk aside, hes chatting to Skrufff today to mark Fabrics recent six year birthday and his own increasingly close relationship with the still astonishingly successful East End club.
At no point do I intend to leave Fabric, I am far too emotionally involved in its development. I am very proud of what we have achieved so far and excited about the future, says Craig.
I have played at the club almost every week for six years and my work ethic remains very basic - I find the music during the week and I share it at the weekend. The difference between having a residency and being a resident is that I have control over when I play and who I play with, across three rooms, the equipment is impeccable and this makes my weekly experience enjoyable. So of course Im very comfortable with my situation.
Three years earlier the then 36 year old jock told Skrufff he was thinking of retiring from DJing by the time he was 40 to refocus his time on his first love of fine art, though now 40, he admits hes since changed his mind.
At the time of that interview I was travelling constantly and as much as it was fun my creativity lacked balance. I am more excited about what I am doing than I have ever been and have now found that balance between DJing, production and making visual art.
Life begins at 40. And ultimately I am an artist working in the medium of music. In the future I am sure I will work with paint again. Maturity, if I may be so bold as to call it that, has taught me that creative balance is what makes me tick. I dont want to be just a painter and I dont want to be just a DJ. I love the idea of both creative forms influencing each other.
Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): 6 years since Fabric started: how significant has the club been in shaping musical trends and the club scene (in what way?)
Craig Richards: I can think of nowhere else in the world that has pushed underground music on such a scale. In six years an enormous amount of talent has passed through Fabric. I feel very proud of the platform we've created and our ongoing commitment to promoting new and interesting artists with care and attention. From the outset the bookings were based on talent and ability, not profile. This afforded us freedom within the programming. The success has been with contrast. Our most formidable task was to provide a forceful alternative to what was available at the time of opening in 1999. We create the setting and the soundtrack, the rest is achieved by the audience.
Skrufff: How big a role has it played in the development of minimal?
Craig Richards: Our role in promoting minimal music is undeniable as a large amount of the artists had never played in Britain until we booked them. Britain tended to be very pro British and the first task was to gradually introduce names which were relatively unheard of. I am fortunate in that my residency allows me to invite people to play alongside me. From the start I played stripped back deep bass heavy music, whether from San Francisco, south east London or Cologne. Repetitive bongo loops or clicks and pops, its about the feeling of space within the music. By perseverance this has become the sound of fabric. For some people the sound is too sparse but late in the evening the emptiness made sense to me. I love emptiness, rooms without furniture, walls without paintings, and girls without make up. The soundsystem is everything. Without that it is extremely hard for basic music to have an overwhelming impact.
Skrufff: Lots of DJs have jumped on the minimal bandwagon in the last couple of years; as well as clubs (DC10?) a good or bad thing for the music/ scene, what impact do you expect this will have?
Craig Richards: Music which is fashionable by nature eventually becomes unfashionable. I prefer to see it as recognition for the genre which has been in existence for quite some time. This industry thrives on bandwagons. Electronic house and minimal techno being the current marketing terms utilised by the commercially minded amongst us. Through overuse words cease to be descriptive. The issue here is now minimal. One persons understanding of minimal is different to anothers. For me the trick is in making very little seem like a lot. The role of the DJ is to make the sound engaging enough for the crowd to enjoy. By limiting the amount of music in the music presents the DJ with a greater challenge. I personally enjoy this challenge. I dont have a problem with great music being in fashion. Ultimately its better than shit music being fashionable.
Skrufff: Richie Hawtin talks on his new biog about technology allowing him to ditch mundane beat mixing, whats your stance on all these big name DJs giving up vinyl and using Ableton type programs instead?
Craig Richards: I dont find beat matching mundane I find the human aspect of DJing rather exciting. However, I appreciate that more time spent choosing and manipulating the sound instead of wasting energy matching beats would work for DJs who stretch the technology to the extreme creating new music from the existing sound. For me it wouldnt work as I am romantically linked to the sound and feel of vinyl. I remain un-convinced about some of the new technology, it appears to have more to do with convenience than development and quality of sound. I find it irritating when the technology itself is presented as a more modern approach to playing records. Its merely another way.
Jonty Skrufff (Skrufff.com)