Enter the Labyrinth: Celebrating 19 Years of FABRICLIVE
Berlin has Berghain, Toulouse has Le Bikini, Ibiza has Amnesia, Tokyo has Womb, and London has fabric.
If those walls could talk… Drenched in rave history, the iconic venue has been a certified clubbing mecca since its doors opened in 1999 with rooms 1, 2 and 3 playing host to music royalty and celebrating rave culture’s many tempos and mutations for almost 2 decades.
Even when the future looked bleak, fabric stood firm and proud, with an overwhelming outpouring of support from people worldwide who campaigned to keep the venue open, all with their own unique stories of what the venue meant to them and club culture as a whole. Since then it has continued to thrive and be the home of underground clubbing culture in London, and a beacon of inspiration for many on a global scale.
This Friday we have the privilege of celebrating 19 years of FABRICLIVE in legendary room 1. If you’ve stood on that dancefloor you truly know what it is to feel music thanks to the infamous soundsystem. With Pretty Weird and Addictive Behaviour recruiting a stellar roster of artists in rooms 2 and 3, you can guarantee all bass bases will be covered as we enter fabric’s 19th year in proper style.
Everyone has their own memorable moments from within the labyrinth, so ahead of our room 1 takeover we’ve asked Doc Scott, Kove, LowQui, Ownglow, Technimatic, The Upbeats and Visionobi for their fondest memories in the club, and what the venue means to them. Get to know, and get involved – happy birthday FABRICLIVE!
19 years of fabric and FABRICLIVE… What role do you think the venue played in the evolution of the clubbing scene in London?
A very important one, for me it’s always had line ups that reflected the true underground sound of all the different musical genres, especially drum & bass. From its beginning it stuck with D&B when other venues didn’t, and really helped the scene have a home at a major venue in London.
Can you remember the first time you ventured into the moody caverns of the club?
I cant remember the exact first time I went to fabric, but one of my earliest memories of the club is standing behind Grooverider in room 1 at a Prototype night and thinking “I really want to play in here, it’s the place I need to be playing at…” That soundsystem, that vibe, that underground feeling. It had it all.
What about the first time you played there then? Must’ve been a moment.
Very exciting, one of those moments when you want to be at your absolute best. I knew fabric was going to be an important club so you want to make sure you’re invited back to play – that’s what I always think to myself, it’s one thing to be booked to play somewhere, but the key is to be invited back. Thankfully I’ve been invited back many times over the 19 years of fabric’s life!
What’s one of your fondest memories in the club over the years?
Hmm, there’s been many great nights as a DJ, but one of my favourite nights there was actually when I wasn’t playing. I was playing somewhere else in London on a Saturday and after my gig I passed through fabric as I knew Marcel Dettmann was playing, and I ended up on the dancefloor for 4 hours, loving every minute of it!
Does your selection change at all when you’re deep in fabric’s chambers?
Yes, I DJ based on the mood, plus it really depends what line up I’m on. If I’m doing a Logical Progression night I’ll lean to the more musical side, whereas a Metalheadz night I’ll lean to be more aggressive.
The best thing about fabric is you can really be yourself and play whatever you’re feeling, the way it should be.
How important is fabric to club culture in London?
It’s been incredibly important. Some iconic clubs in London have come and gone over the years, and despite the best efforts of local bureaucrats recently fabric has held strong, so it’s evolved into a mecca for fans and DJs alike.
Their policy of pushing underground music on both line ups and mixes has been crucial in keeping scenes like ours healthy and growing too.
Can you remember your first experience of the venue?
I first went down in 2010 I believe. I’d only just recently been introduced to drum & bass, and never really understood what all the fuss was about until I heard it on the fabric system. Something clicked and the rest is history!
What about the first time you played there?
It was actually my first proper show, opening room 2 back in 2012 for a RAM night. No amount of bedroom mixing can prepare you for the sonic onslaught of DJ’ing in a club, so it was a baptism of fire. Only a few clangs though, and it was certainly memorable hearing my records in that environment for the first time.
Fondest memories there?
I’ve been lucky enough to play all 3 rooms and on a real varied selection of line ups over the years too, so fabric has been incredibly important to my musical journey. Plus it’s always great bumping into old faces down there & emerging into a far-too-sunny Farringdon at 7am (So a few of those memories are fairly blurred…)!
Does your selection change at all when you play at fabric vs. other venues?
I think so. I think generally the crowd you get down at fabric tend to be very knowledgeable of the genre, so it gives you more scope to dig a little deeper if you want. The environment is refreshing too, especially in room 1 as you’re playing in the cage. The focus is much more on what’s going on on the dancefloor rather than the DJ.
Why do you think fabric has remained an integral part of club culture in London?
You can’t test fabric! In my view fabric has played a key role in supporting the underground music scene/s in London, the UK and arguably worldwide too. DJs, MCs and producers have had a safe haven to play, develop and strengthen their music in a beautiful dark club, with a wicked soundsystem and an ever-evolving but generally eager, open-minded crowd.
The flyer art has influenced graphic designers and artists, the line ups have influenced other promoters and the music played has spawned loads of new artists. fabric artist liaisons & bookers have learnt their trade and gone on to run some of the biggest labels and venues. That’s before you even start on how many good times the ravers have had inside the place. Salute!
What was your first experience in the venue like?
When fabric first opened I was living in Europe so it actually took me a few months or maybe even a year to get through the hallowed doors. By that time the legend of the underfloor soundsystem and the ethos of the club had already spread far and wide, so I was super excited to check it out. My memory is a bit hazy but I remember the insane queue, entering a different subterranean world, losing my mates, making new ones and generally falling in love with the club. It’s a familiar story. I still get excited walking down those stairs every time I visit.
What about when you first performed there?
It was a rammed FABRICLIVE session with Goldie & Doc Scott – early 2000s in room 2. Nerves jangling before we start. Adrenalin overload during the set. Multiple rewinds and reloads as we reset the dance. Pure vibes!
Playing in the booth in room 2 is actually a bit of a challenge for an MC as you can’t see much of the crowd in the dark and the DJ monitors are so loud, especially when the old guard roll out, so it’s hard to hear yourself. I knew the vibes in the booth were strong at the time but had no idea how the crowd reaction was until after the set. Off the chain so I’m told!
Got to shout out SP:MC here who, after a good year or two of me playing in room 2, kindly showed me where the mic monitor control volume was. A game changer! Thanks and respect Stew!
Favourite moments in there over the years?
Being shown where the mic monitor volume switch lives! There’s way too many to count, but walking back through the doors to host for S.P.Y after the club was saved recently is up there no doubt. We need to support fabric and the underground scene as much as it supports us.
Highlight sets for me have been with Goldie, LTJ Bukem, Marky, Phace, The Upbeats, Artificial Intelligence, Doc Scott… I could go on but we would be here all week. Just want to say thanks to all the fabric family over the years for all the good times, love and support. Long may it continue!
First memory of the iconic venue?
I’ve only been a handful of times, but I remember initially being shocked purely by it’s expanse, the staircases, dark smokey rooms, it was honestly surreal.
This will be your debut playing there, right?
Yes this will be my first time! It’s all still very surreal – I’ve dreamt of playing fabric for years, and to have it become a reality is still sinking in!
How will you approach your selection this Friday?
I’m definitely digging quite deep for this one! I’m also hoping to test quite a few new dubs as well. When it comes to my sets, my approach doesn’t normally change too much, but for this one it will be a bit more on the minimal dark and melodic vibe as it’s the opening set of the evening.
fabric has provided us with some very memorable moments over the years – both good and bad!
Our first experience there together was back in 2008 when we were just starting out as a duo. We’d heard that LTJ Bukem was going to play one of our first tunes ‘Skyline Boulevard’, so we both went down, incredibly excited to hear it dropped. Bukem was on last that night, and he played our track as his final tune. So we had been waiting literally all night for the moment to arrive! We heard it coming in, we were both in the middle of the dancefloor going crazy, and when it dropped… it had no bass whatsoever. It went from being the best moment ever to one of the worst. But it was all part of the learning curve of making music!
Fast-forward to 2016 and we were fortunate enough to have the launch party for our second album ‘Better Perspective’ at fabric. It was such an incredible experience. We curated the whole night, so to have our favourite DJs playing on THAT soundsystem, our friends and family all close by, and the club packed to the rafters raving all night, made it a night neither of us will ever forget.
19 years of any venue is quite the milestone. What’s your experience of the folklore of fabric and its importance to club culture in London?
Well being from outside of the UK we couldn’t really give first-hand experience on things – but if you’re chatting to a promoter or fan anywhere in the world and you mention that you’ve played shows in London, the first thing they’ll ask is “Have you played at FABRIC??!!”. I think that’s a pretty good indication of the clout and reputation that the club has developed over the years.
What was your first experience in there like?
Well the first time we went we were actually playing and I remember being pretty damn nervous, as it was one of our first tours out of NZ.
To be DJing at the illustrious fabric was fairly intimidating for a little ol’ NZer. And on top of that getting pretty lost as well, I think we actually couldn’t find our way out when we were done, haha!
You’re not the only one! 🙂 Fondest memories in there over the years?
Of course every time playing at fabric has been amazing, but also so many great times backstage in that tiny den off room 1. Some nights it would almost feel like everyone in the scene was rolling through for a catch up and a drink in that smokey little cave.
How do you approach your sets when you’re deep in the labyrinth?
I think you can rest assured the crowd at fabric will be open to everything you throw at them, and will take the party into the early hours. It really does feel like once you’re through the doors and down the stairs you can lose the outside world for a few hours and just get absorbed in the music.
What do you think fabric has meant to London and club culture as a whole over the years?
I think fabric has been integral in the development of the London clubbing scene – it certainly was for me anyway. It was the first place I raved in regularly and heard the music I was in love with. It’s been iconic since I set foot in the place and a real staple for D&B music. It has consistently delivered well thought-out line ups, bringing new talent through whilst also showcasing established artists. The balance over the years is something I think is unrivalled by any other club in London.
Can you remember those first experiences stepping into the club?
I have so many memories of my first few times in fabric, but can’t pinpoint much in particular because they are all so hazy, haha! I used to go there all the time and it was a proper underground dungeon back in the day. I remember being able to smoke weed under the arches and the atmosphere in there was not too different to a proper warehouse rave.
fabric was my graceland for a number of years and my go-to club. I learnt a lot about the clubbing scene and heard so much good music there. The system was the best in my opinion all those years ago and nothing in London at the time could test room 2 for me!
Tell us about your first time performing there…
The first time I played at fabric was for Exit Records in room 3. dBridge gave me the nod and it was genuinely one of, if not the biggest, bucket list ticks of my career. Playing in fabric was a goal of mine from the age of about 16 when I first heard about it, and after raving there for 5 years the first time performing there was hugely influential. I will never forget that night and will forever be thankful to Darren for bringing me in.
Fondest memories there?
Obviously that first time I played was one of the most special. Also playing in room 1 with Nu:Logic for their album launch last year is definitely another highlight. Love those guys and the vibe was electric that night. I always loved the Critical shows when they were in room 2 as well. That stage with the monitor set up is something quite special for an MC. Nothing better than being able to hear yourself, which is often a rarity in this scene.
To be honest, I could go on… I feel very lucky to have been able to play there so many times over the years. Some really special events and I will always cherish the memories and look forward to making more in that awesome club. Long live fabric!
Celebrate 19 years of FABRICLIVE this Friday – tickets available here