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Craig Richards Interview

Fabric resident DJ Craig Richards is one of the world's most respected spinners. DJmag.com chatted to him about drinking, digital DJing, and his new mix CD.

As resident DJ of one of the world's most forward-thinking electronic music clubs – Fabric – you'd have thought that Craig Richards would be at the vanguard of new technology.

You imagine that he's so cutting-edge that he may actually be only half human, the other half all wires, and he shits circuit boards.

But Craig Richards chooses to play his music on a format that's been around since 1926 – good, old fashioned vinyl.

Putting Two Records Together

Craig Richards
Craig Richards

I feel pressured to go digital, but I'm traditional and appreciate the art of putting two records together

Craig Richards
Craig Richards
Craig Richards
"I feel pressured to go digital, but I'm traditional and appreciate the art of putting two records together," admits Craig, in his quiet, monotone voice.

"I just like vinyl, and prefer the sound of it.

"Vinyl sounds warmer, and I like collecting it too."

Craig Richards has just released his first mix CD for two years as part of a project called 'The Two Headed Monster', a new album concept from Transparent Sounds (read all about it in the latest issue of DJmag).

Craig mixed his 74-minute set using just vinyl, a refreshing fact considering that these days most DJ mix CDs are created using software like Ableton.

After the mix was recorded, Craig used Pro Tools for a nip and tuck, to splice tracks together and to make some mixes shorter, but overall he still put the records together by hand.

Craig explains: "The editing in Pro Tools is just to shorten a few things.

"An eight minute house track might sound great on the dancefloor, but there's no need to hear eight minutes of a record on a mix CD."

Experimenting

Craig Richards
So many DJs are experimenting in digital DJing right now, but Craig, who plays on one of the most important dancefloors in the world each week, couldn't give a monkeys about using a mouse.

"Sometimes I play alongside people who are doing the Ableton thing, and a part of me thinks it is bullshit, but another part of me is really jealous," says Richards.

"Some DJs do amazing things with laptops and really create their own unique imprint on the music.

"But there's an argument that says let records breathe, leave them alone, and let them do what they were created to do.

"Anyway, if I used a laptop I'd have to stop drinking to concentrate – it'd be less fun for me.

"Maybe that's the cry of an alcoholic, I dunno."

Laptop DJing

Craig is quick to shoot down DJmag's suggestion that laptop DJing means you can carry more records with you to a gig.

Craig Richards
Craig Richards

I pack my record box according to the set, who's playing before me, who is playing after me, the club, the country I'm playing in, and other DJing factors

Craig Richards
Craig Richards
Craig Richards
"I pack my record box according to the set, who's playing before me, who is playing after me, the club, the country I'm playing in, and other DJing factors.

"But 80 to 100 records is enough choice – if a DJ can't create a decent set out of 80 records, there's something wrong them."

Craig's part of 'The Two Headed Monster' features 18 tracks of bouncy, wiggly house music, influenced by electro, minimal techno and acid.

However, the British DJ admits he struggled with the CD.

"It's very difficult making a mix CD, and with a single CD like this, you're pushed to tell your story a lot quicker.

"Either way you need a beginning, a middle, and an end.

"I wanted this to be much more of a dancefloor CD than my last one, and this mix is as close to my sets at the club as you'll hear on a CD - hopefully it represents me."

Craig Richards is one of the most consistent DJs around – he always pushed musical boundaries and has never fluffed a gig – an amazing achievement considering he's played at Fabric nearly every weekend for seven years.

It'd be easy to criticise Richards for not trying his hand at digital DJing, or for not trying to bring new technology into his sets, but if it ain't broke, why fix it?