Budding DJs always harbor dreams of performing to packed stadiums or at major venues on the Spanish island of Ibiza, but maintaining a residency for 11 years and playing in front of up to 1,800 people each week is not too shabby either.
Terry Francis has landed such a gig. The British DJ is a resident at London club Fabric and plays to clubbers every Saturday night.
His event has built a reputation for providing the best in cutting-edge techno and house music, and has contributed to the venue’s reputation internationally as a dance mecca. Francis is bringing that Saturday-night sound to Tokyo at an upcoming show at Unit.
“Fabric has always had a direction with its music,” says Francis. “That’s why it’s still doing so well. It’s more of a leader than a follower. People jump on bandwagons but to me Fabric is the wagon.”
Despite its influence on dance-music culture, Fabric has recently seen its sister club, Matter, close down. That left the company that owned the two venues in administration, sparking reports Fabric might also be closed before a bailout rescued the club. These reports came the same year as another major night spot, Plastic People, closed down, too. To observers from Tokyo, it looks like the London scene could be in dire straits.
“It’s been a tough year all round,” Francis says. “It was a shame to lose Plastic People and Matter, but there are other venues opening and a lot of one-off parties happening in London and the rest of England, and Fabric is going very strong still.”
When asked about his Tokyo event, Francis perks up.
“I have some great new music, and I’m excited because I’ve never been to Tokyo before,” the DJ says. “But it’s a shame I only have one day to take it in.”
Fabric owes a lot to Francis’ contribution — myriad classic sets that have blended techno, dub-techno and house. He also has a say in who plays at the club.
Perhaps the biggest endorsement for the DJ comes in the form of his event Wiggle, which has run for 16 years. At a time when genres come in and out of style, holding on to a dedicated crowd is quite a feat. Wiggle is still one of the leading lights of London’s tech-house sound and helped lead to Francis being crowned Best New DJ by Muzik magazine in 1997.
Francis’ success also comes without any of the huge hit singles often associated with bigger-name DJs; but he isn’t bothered about lacking the fame that some of his peers enjoy.
“I like it like that. I don’t really play music for the attention. It’s more out of passion. . . . And for the free drinks, of course.”
Terry Francis plays at Phonika 2nd Anniversary at Unit in Daikanyama, Tokyo, on Sept. 11 (11:30 p.m.) Tickets cost ¥3,500. For more information, visit www.unit-tokyo.com