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An evening with Craig Richards

Marcus Barnes

Craig Richards 300x225 An evening with Craig RichardsAs London’s infamous club fabric prepares to celebrate its thirteenth birthday, I was lucky enough to spend a bit of time with resident DJ and music programmer, Craig Richards.

The importance of Craig’s involvement with fabric goes without saying, having been there since the beginning he’s grown with the club and become what I would call a ‘DJ’s DJ’, receiving universal respect from all and sundry. A keen record collector, painter, father and traveller, Craig is a very interesting man with a lot to say for himself – here’s the result of a recent chat we had.

For an extended version of this interview, visit marcusbarnes.com

Now, you haven’t done very many interviews recently have you?

Not for a while but I’ve been around for a while and there was a point when I did do a lot. I stopped doing them because I didn’t feel like I had any more to say. In a couple of them I was maybe drunk and maybe didn’t conduct myself in the way I’d like in terms of being positive, because I’d rather be positive than negative. Of course, most of us given half a chance can be negative.

Every loves a good moan?

Well, not so much a moan but in many ways I think you work out what you are and who you are but deciding what you’re not. That has been the case for me in many areas of my life, not necessarily knowing who you are but being sure of who you’re not. In which case, it’s easy to be negative and it’s a funny old scene dance music. Like lots of things, shit rises to the top and it’s easy to be bitter-sounding. I think there were a couple of interviews I did where I sounded bitter because I was toasting people and it’s not really me. It’s not the angle that I’d like to take, because all those people that get to the top and are celebrated on a commercial level they create a shadow, it’s like a horrid sort of mountain they form and the shadow that they create is what we live in and ultimately, I’m really happy to live in that shadow. I don’t play big tunes… the bigger the tune the bigger the envelope and that’s never been the way I’ve operated. So there’s no use feeling envious or jealous, which one doesn’t, but it’s easy to be envious and jealous of peoples’ pay packets [laughs]. Which is a slippery slope in itself!

How does it feel to have universal respect from ‘the scene’?

That’s nice to hear. No matter how many people respect you, your own world revolves around self-respect and self-esteem. I’ve always been someone who is driven by self-doubt rather than self-confidence. That’s not necessarily a good thing. I think at least that way your approach is one of restraint, it may be a nervous approach in a sense. I’m happy with the way things are, as I said to you before there are other things I have in my life, my paintings are rising in terms of importance. I’m painting more each day, since I left London it’s really happening. I’ve realised a lot of things about myself and my creativity since leaving London, in London I was a bit over-distracted, now I’m under-distracted and I have time and space. I don’t have people ringing me up asking me to join them down the pub and so I’m actually getting a full days painting in. I’m feeling inspired by not being in London, I wasn’t initially, when I first left I hated it.

How did you feel when you first left London?

I never thought I’d leave London. I spent most of my teens wanting to live in London and moved here to go to art school in 1987. I never thought I’d leave, then all of a sudden I had and it took a while to get used to it. Now I realise it’s been positive for me on a creative level, I’m making music and I’m painting. I might have something to present soon and whilst I’m happy with the way things are going with my DJ career, if you want to call it that, one thing I’m very aware of is that I’ve been under-productive in terms of making music and making paintings. Either because I’ve been DJing a lot or going to too many after-parties or rolling around on too many peoples’ carpets or whatever it is. But for one reason or another I haven’t been as productive creatively as I could have been. On a bad day I could be quite upset about that and regretful but on a good day one thinks of the future, and the only way to change it is to do the work. I’ve been working on my paintings and I’m hoping to release some music and show some of my paintings, so I’m nearer to that than I’ve ever been.

Have you exhibited much of your stuff in the past?

When I was at college I had a couple of shows and some interest in my work but organising parties, throwing parties and being at parties took over. Also, I’ve realised that when I left college I had a studio and I was in the studio on my own all the time. When you’re at college it’s a group activity and whilst you’re working alone, it’s in a group. I didn’t really enjoy being on my own so much, even though I enjoy my own company I didn’t think it was a good thing to be alone so much. I just felt perhaps I might have disappeared into myself a bit too much had I carried on painting and having shows.

Also the way you earn your money, I found very difficult because I was going out a lot and I needed money in my pocket – at the time I wanted to buy clothes and I needed quick cash. I didn’t like the way you earn money, you might be potless for a year working towards a big show then you’ve got a big lump which you either get slowly or quickly, it’s very difficult. Then with commercial work I sold a few drawings and did a bit of design work and did some book covers, you’ve got to wait three months to get paid, it’s terrible. At that point it was only me to feed but I found it irritating having to wait, so putting on parties was starting to pay me. Quite often, for one reason or another – you’ve got a family and you need to put food on the table or something, a lot of artists have to go the way of earning a living. I know plenty of people I went to college with who were very talented but didn’t necessarily make their way as an artist. I admire anyone who can make a living as an artist, whether you’re a watercolourist in Cornwall or a celebrated fine artist in New York, whoever you are it’s bloody difficult.

So are you going to be pushing your art a lot more now?

Yeah I want to have a show next year. I’ve started a label and I’m starting another one, a 7” label. I’ve always wanted to do a 7” label. I’ve got a few people who are going to do stuff for me, that’s always been an ambition of mine. Yeah, it’s how I first started and I still buy 7” records, mainly reggae. I’m a big reggae fan, it’s a big part of my life so I’ve always wanted to have a 7” record label. I’ve got a good name for it – Tuppence, I’m going to call it Tuppence. It seems like a perfect name for the label, small and you know. I’m definitely doing it with a hole in the middle. They’re not producing vinyl in Jamaica anymore I heard. I don’t know if that’s true but I presume they’re playing off computers like everyone else.

fabric celebrates it’s thirteenth birthday with a 31-hour party starting on October 20. For more information on Craig Richards, visit his Facebook page HERE.

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  • Jamie Burton

    Erm… He is on something right? Reads like each idea is running away with the previous sentence.

    Fair play.

  • zlatapraha

    “How does it feel to have universal respect from ‘the scene’?”Memo to Marcus Barnes: Have a look at some of the other interviews in the blogs section. You will see that it is possible – by extending a minimal amount of effort in thinking up mildly thought-provoking questions – to elicit interesting replies from your interviewee, rather than simply acting as a human spitoon.

  • Jimmy D

    Oh, yes – Marcus is the Paxman of Independent blogs. No-one can expect a free ride from his forensic scalpel.
    No, seriously … I think “human suppository” is a more accurate description. What I think is really depressing is the lack of quality control. The Independent’s editors are quite happy to wave this dross through.

  • JacquesDraque

    Actually, this isn’t too bad compared with MB’s previous dismal efforts. At least this week’s “celebrity” treating us to his outermost thoughts can string two words together. Check out, by contrast, Marcus’ exchange of mutually adoring repartee with a creature calling himself “Huxley” a couple of interviews back.


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