The termination of Fabric’s license last year and ensuing fear over permanently losing the world class institution felt at the time like a death knell for London’s club scene. But for long-serving Saturday night resident Craig Richards, it became an opportunity.
The lengthiest stretch Richards had spent away from the booth across his then 17 years in residence was three weeks, and although he found the temporary closure “devastating on many levels”, it sparked a broadening of his horizons. “I realised one of my main ambitions in life was to not get a job, and by playing so regularly I accidentally had one!” he says. “I suppose I wallowed in the luxury of that residency because it was so good for me.”
From outside this comfort zone, Richards’ loose plan to start a festival was given invigorated focus. The launch of Houghton in August, an 11,000-capacity event in the grounds of a Grade I listed Norfolk mansion, was a total success. Backed by a mouthwatering line-up, weighty soundsystems, a 24-hour music license and thoughtful production, it was a near-flawless experience that became one of the most talked-about new events of 2017. Richards was at the heart of the action throughout, clocking up over 20 hours of DJing and popping up all over the site in his rare time away from the decks to vibe with the crowd and soak up the euphoric atmosphere. “Sadly I missed a lot of people because I hadn’t factored in I’d occasionally have to sleep,” he tells us.
Fabric has also remained a significant part of his life, the year starting triumphantly with its reopening and his marathon back-to-back sessions with Ricardo Villalobos in particular unfolding in legendary fashion. Memorable dates at London’s Lion & Lamb and an inspiring trip to Burning Man – which he plans to channel into future editions of Houghton to help grow it into “something that’s really world renowned and significant” – also stand out.
Away from the booth, he’s pieced together a new studio, revived his The Nothing Special imprint after a three year hiatus, collaborated with Howie B and Shaun Ryder on his 7” label Tuppence, and put his art school MA into use by getting back into painting, releasing a book depicting all 92 artists who played Houghton.
It sounds like a hectic schedule, but he’s still found time to maintain his free-spirited attitude. “I like a bit of time to daydream,” he says. “It’s part of the upside of being a DJ, I always thought. If you haven’t got any time to potter about then it’s not worth it.”
Patrick Hinton is Mixmag's Digital Staff Writer, follow him on Twitter
This feature is taken from the January 2018 issue of Mixmag