THE NOTHING SPECIAL / TUPPENCE
Artist, record collector, dreamer, DJ, producer and gentleman of the night – Craig Richards can be described in many ways but most of all he is a storyteller. His ability to bring life, breadth and narrative to everything he does is the secret to his success.
Unlike many of his peers Craig has achieved worldwide recognition by staying in one place. His eighteen year period as artist in residence at Fabric in London has not only defined the musical output of the world’s most famous club but in doing so has shaped British underground music.
The story begins in Bournemouth during the mid-eighties. Whilst working as a rockabilly barber Craig, inspired by visits to London and the madness of bank holidays in his seaside hometown, started organising small gatherings in pubs, basements and a cabaret club. The soundtrack was jazz, funk, reggae, disco and soul. In 1984 he lived in Hollywood – A rough, edgy and forgotten Hollywood where seminal downtown warehouse parties Dirtbox and power tools affected his vision of the future. The energy and excitement of underground parties became part of his existence. Subsequent visits to Paradise Garage, Danceteria and save the robots in New York and then later Shoom, Taboo, The mud club in London cemented a lifelong love of clubs and parties. In 1987 he was given a place at St. Martins School of Art in London, just as acid house fever descended on the Capital. Between studies he and a few friends threw parties in the legendary college coffee bar (where the Sex Pistols performed their first gig). In 1991 Craig was accepted to the Royal college of art where again, he would DJ regularly in the coffee bar to an array of weird and wonderful art students. After college with the full force of acid house and a colourful crowd behind him he began organising larger themed events named ‘Georgie’ in tribute of vintage playboy George Best. The parties were incredibly successful. They were elaborately decorated affairs and took place in film studios and unique spaces around London. During this time Craig worked as an artist making and exhibiting paintings, working as a designer for clients like Absolut Vodka, Paul Smith, Sapporo beer and dancer Michael Clark.
Although Craig played records at his parties he always considered himself more of a record collector than a DJ, however, during the mid nineties with the help of a second turntable, he developed his own quirky and unpredictable sound. A trippy mixture of deep house, dubby techno, bongos, interplanetary disco, funk and abstract beats. In 1997 Craig teamed up with his old friend Sasha and Lee Burridge (who’d just moved back from Hong Kong) and started the infamous monster Tyrant. They held long-standing and soon to be iconic residencies at The End in London and The Bomb in Nottingham. Sasha ‘s early departure from the project left Craig and Lee a turntable each, paving the way for a musical give and take that became instantly recognisable and celebrated at clubs worldwide. Two critically acclaimed Mix CDs defined the hypnotic push pull sound of Lee and Craig playing became known as the Tyrant Soundsystem…The Tyrant label released music by Sieg Uber Die Sonne, Silicon Scally, Scsi-9, Swag, Soul Capsule and Transparent Sound.
In 1998 Craig started an underground house night called Freaky Disco in the Soundshaft. Previous home of The Drum Club. It then moved to The Cross in Kings Cross. The night brought together guests like Swayzak, Jon Marsh, The Psychonaughts and Derrick Carter. Craig and Terry Francis were residents and they captured a warped and wobbly tech house sound, which led to them being offered a weekly residency at Fabric, which was at that time still a building site. The musical identity of the club would be built around Craig in one room and Terry in another. Skip forward eighteen years and the success of Craig’s weekly residency is integral to the success and worldwide recognition of Fabric. As artist in residence and Musical Director he is responsible for the modern approach taken to the programming of Saturday nights and as a DJ his unique and uncompromising sound provides a unique identity for the club. His early morning sets at the club are the stuff of London legend, never the same and always challenging. He is as an originator, a DJ held in high esteem by all of his peers. The variety in his sets and the versatility with which he adapts to any musical situation – from dub, jazz electro disco and techno. A DJ who really can create a journey for the listener. The influence of his residency is immeasurable. In recent times Fabric experienced an abrupt and unfounded closure and then joyous reopening. Craig is still at the helm, still relevant, still challenging and still there. His residency is without question one of the most significant in Dance music history. Meticulous, matchlessly influential, always based in fact, passionate and full of personality and depth.
The Fabric residency has always meant that travel has been limited but Craig has still found time to have residencies in New Zealand and New York. He plays regularly in Japan and pops up in places where underground music is appreciated and understood. Famously inspired back to back sets with Ricardo Villalobos, Nicolas Lutz and Seth Troxler happen around the globe. In his spare time he paints and makes music.
His label THENOTHINGSPECIAL has released music by Schatrax, Calibre, Trevino, D bridge and to name but a few. Craig’s paintings and drawings appear on all of the covers. More recently he started a seven inch label called Tuppence with releases so far by Radioactiveman, Convextion and Deadbeat. He also has an ongoing collaboration with studio genius Howie B. In 2006 they created the soundtrack for the award winning animation Rabbit and released a limited edition boxset of music, poetry and drawings to accompany the project. An album in conjunction with a book of paintings and poetry is soon to be released.
In early 2009 Craig and David Blamey, his ex-tutor from the Royal College of Art, were invited to make a sonic collaboration entitled ‘Quiet Please’ held at the Royal Academy in London, a group show which included Malcolm McLaren an William Burroughs. The success of this work led to a subsequent show ‘Quiet Place’ at the Victoria and Albert Museum. They blurred the boundaries between art and a DJ experience creating a multi-layered, otherworldly sound installation using six turntables, four CD players a synthesizer and a microphone.
Aside from the reinstatement of his residency at the club that rose up from the ashes. Craig’s latest undertaking is the curation of an arts and music festival in Norfolk. Every artist has been chosen been personally considered by Craig himself and invited on merit alone. HOUGHTON aims to fuse art and music over a three day period. A four stage, three day festival, in a beautiful setting with and an existing art collection will happen in August.