The British icon who places the craft above all else.
Legowelt was the subject of the first Electronic Heroes series and we decided that what makes him so special is his output. Not only of music, but of art, samples, synths, fanzines and much more. They all help you form a picture of the man that is hard to dislike.
Craig Richards, though, is quite the opposite. For 20 years he has pretty much just let his music do the talking. Interviews remain relatively few and far between, and his social media presence—only started recently—remains reticent. Still, that alone has been enough for the upstanding British gentleman to become an absolute cult favourite: his fans are often die hards who fawn at the very mention of his name. The reason for that is his uncompromising quality.
Every set he plays has an unmistakable sonic fingerprint, but never does it sound like he’s repeating himself. He plays tracks that many people would diss without even hearing, just because of who made them or which label put them out. It’s the music that matters to him, though, not the social associations, cultural cool or lack thereof that comes with every selection. Technically, he’s as tight as they come, often mixing mid-way through a tune so that energy levels stay high and the mood never drops.
Craig is synonymous with Fabric
Famously, Richards has been the musical director and resident at fabric since the beginning. Back then, he was a little-known name, who was given a chance in a former meat packing factory, having studied graphic design at Saint Martins School of Art then at the Royal College of Art. He’d also spent time working as a hairdresser, and of course formed Tyrant with Lee Burridge and, at first, Sasha. That was a tech house duo that helped lay the foundations of the sound, and to this day Richards still plays many of the records that he did back then, and they still sound futuristic.
This year he has stepped back from his weekly fabric residencies to focus on a broader array of things. These include weekly parties at the Lion and Lamb, and more special back to back sets at fabric—but unlike most, he won’t just play with anyone. He plays only with those who he connects with on a musical level, and for that reason has formed lasting and symbiotic relationships with fellow tastemakers like Zip, Lutz and Ricardo. He’s also painting more than ever having left London to live in the country. That gave him time and freedom away from pubs and afterparties to hone his craft, and at the end of last year he held an exhibition A Show of Heads in the heart of the City. It featured his own interpretations of the artists who played Houghton Festival, his other major new concern.
It debuted last year to a rapturous reception, but did that surprise anyone? The line-up, the layout, the ad hoc and unannounced nature of the sets all spoke to real quality and a focus on the music, as is always the way with Richards. He’s never compromised himself, never put out a naff tune, played a shit party or started whining like many his age about how the game has changed/the current scene is shit/the kids know nothing.
Nor has he ever switched up his sound to jump on the hype train. Sure, he plays special dub and reggae sets, but always with an air of authority. He even runs his own 7” label, Tuppence, which deals in all forms of dub from Jamaican to electronic. Then there is The Nothing Special, his other label concern and one that offers up twisted, dubbed out house, techno and electro from the same sort of names he has always surround himself with rather than making a grab for any big name newcomers who might shift more units. Add in his own timeless and off centre tunes, whichtend to melt your mind with warped bass and trippy sound design, and you have a man who has very quietly become a true, if not unlikely, electronic hero.