Do you know what's important about running a nightclub? It's this sort of thing.
“You know when all of a sudden you hear a record and you think 'this changes everything'? Your head feels different, your heart feels different, you've got a spring in your step.
It's one of the things I feel most thankful for in my life that I can get that buzz,” says Fabric founder Keith Reilly. “Some people have to buy a 20 grand handbag, or spend two grand on a meal. I can get that feeling from a single track. God, I hope that never dies. I'd just corrode into dust. That feeling where I've got that ecstatic joy almost of a child. It is my whole life.”
So that's how you run a club. With a passion — or in Reilly's case an obsession — for music. Everything else, all the success, the full club more or less every weekend for nearly a decade-and-a-half can all be traced to that.
There's no such thing as a short conversation with Keith Reilly. He jumps from whichever subject he's most excited about to the next, and for someone who's spent 14 years running the same club, albeit one of the world's most important, he's as enthusiastic now as the day Fabric opened its doors in 1999. In fact, probably more so. His enthusiasm is at once infectious and inspiring. Chatting to him makes you want to be better at being into music; to be more curious, more voracious.
When DJ Mag grabs him, he's just landed from a trip to Japan where he's been attending to ambassadorial duties. He's been over to throw a party with the crew from Womb, the Tokyo club that is perhaps Fabric's nearest cousin in both ethos and programming. He took his resident Craig Richards and Seth Troxler out to fly the flag for the Smithfield club.
“We've fought many of the same battles,” he says. “We have a shared identity, an underlying philosophy really. They do things wonderfully well. And it's been a tough couple of years for them over there, so we thought we'd show them a bit of support.”
Reilly encapsulates Fabric's enduring success as being down to 'a constant quest and thirst for new music'. “It's easy to fill up the diary with guaranteed things, commercially, but we've always tried to strike a balance by booking things that we truly believe in. It's a hard balance to strike and then sustain,” he says.
At the moment it's Marino Canal from Berlin who he 'truly believes in'. “I just can't stop listening to his music!” he says. “Absolutely amazing. I must have listened to some of his tracks a couple of hundred times in a few weeks.” Reilly gave him his first London gig last month at the club, and he seems to be smitten. But that's not unusual.
“I love it when someone sends me a link and it takes me to some weird little site. It can cheer me up for three or four days! I'll be running around the office telling people about it. 'Listen, you've got to hear this! You've got to hear this!' It's the same thing that makes people want to be DJs. That's all you're doing as a DJ.
You're saying 'Listen to this, it's driving me crazy and I want you to love it'. Unless that dies within me, I can't see anything changing. Plus what the hell would I do with Judy?! We're such misfits!”
Judy is Judy Griffith, in charge of Saturday nights, and who with the club's co-founder Cameron Leslie form the core of Fabric (along with maestros Craig Richards and fellow resident Terry Francis, of course). They're not just colleagues they're family, and that has always radiated out of the club.
“There's a caring attitude that runs through the club, and I think that comes from the simple thing that [the staff] are primarily fans of what they're doing, rather than it just being a job,” he says. “You need a crowbar to get Judy out of the club in the morning. When people have that level of commitment it can only produce a strong, caring attitude.
“It's a wonderful job,” he adds. “I feel privileged. It's quite literally the public's acceptance of what we do that allows us to be as experimental and free with what we do as we can be. To be self-indulgent, really. They trust us.” And so they should.
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