Remembering: Andrew Weatherall, a free spirit who changed British music
This week, the music world was shaken by the news of Andrew Weatherall’s passing. Everyone at fabric is devastated, and our thoughts and condolences are with his family and friends at such a difficult time. We’ve seen countless outpourings of love from both within our electronic community and beyond over the last few days, which shouldn’t come as a surprise: across a career of more than three decades, Weatherall changed British music. Everyone has their own special memories they attach to him, but in all of this week’s tributes, “uncompromising” has reappeared many times over. He was free-spirited, committed, and unafraid to do things on his own terms. For many, he was a hero – an artist who always pushed things forward, but also an insightful yet down-to-earth character.
Weatherall first emerged onto the UK music scene as a DJ in the late 80s. Back then the acid house movement was in its nascent stages, and Weatherall was just beginning to cut his teeth playing at intimate parties around London. His sharp record collection quickly caught the attention of Danny Rampling, who invited him to play at his seminal club night Shoom. Rampling would later head into another stratosphere alongside guys like Paul Oakenfold, but for Weatherall, world domination was the least of his concerns. As he repeated many times over, if it ever started to feel like a career, he just wasn’t interested. Still, he became a key member of the pioneering acid house collective Boy’s Own, which would later spawn its own cluster of imprints.
By 1990, he was helping a generation of guitar geeks discover the dancefloor. A celebrated remix of My Bloody Valentine’s Soon won the hearts of the shoegazers, and he’d go on to work as a producer for another of Creation Records’ key signings, Primal Scream. The result was Screamadelica, a groundbreaking masterpiece that’s still widely hailed as one of the most important British albums of all time.
Other endeavours included the dub-influenced label and outfit Sabres of Paradise. Together with Gary Burns and Jagz Kooner, Weatherall began carving out his own strain of abstract, leftfield electronics that drew as much from hazy trip-hop as it did laser-throbbing techno. Alongside a string of EPs for their own label, the trio formed close ties with Warp Records, releasing three albums between 1993 and 1995.
Warp, with its singular identity and love of strange, outsider music, was a natural home for Weatherall. It was here that he put out much of his most acclaimed work as one half of Two Lone Swordsmen, an alias that he used to champion a ghostly take on electro and IDM in partnership with Keith Tenniswood. The pair released seven LPs, a bunch of EPs, and more under various other guises. Twenty years later, these records still sound as innovative as they did back then.
Weatherall continued to push boundaries – within and outside electronic music – throughout the rest of his career. On records like Nine O’Clock Drop and A Pox On The Pioneers, he indulged in his early post-punk tastes, then there was that experimental mind trip he made with the UK duo Fuck Buttons. In recent years, he had devoted much of his time to A Love From Outer Space, a trailblazing party that he ran in partnership with Sean Johnston. The much-loved club night ran with one simple premise: that the needle never touched any record above 122BPM.
Weatherall has, of course, been a huge part of our history too. Since his first visit in 2002, he clocked up more than 30 visits to our space, and his unwavering vision always matched with our own ethos. His appearances with us included his legendary Haywire Sessions, and he also became a regular fixture at our birthday weekenders. In 2004, we enlisted him to compile fabric 19, a genre-bending mix inspired by his nights at the club that took in The Egyptian Lover via Jesper Dahlbäck and a Two Lone Swordsmen rework of Ricardo Villalobos.
When the news broke on Monday, we spent most of the day thinking of the best way to commemorate Weatherall’s chapter in our story, but as soon as we put fabric 19 on our office speakers, we felt like sharing it with our community made the most sense. For the next week, the full mix will be available to stream below and via our Soundcloud. Back when we were working on releasing this album, Weatherall left us with the following words, which sum up his approach as an artist better than we ever could. We are proud to be able to share one piece of his enduring legacy. He will forever shine like a star.
“It's only in the last five years that I've considered myself a DJ, ‘cos when I first started, I just played records. I thought of it as a job, but I never thought of it as a career. When you start thinking career, you start thinking ‘Game plans’, and ‘I've gotta be at a certain stage’, and ‘Oh, why am I still doing this’ if, you know, ‘My career should be here’. Call me an underachiever. I think if you start thinking of it as a career, you start thinking you've gotta be here at a certain time, then you start taking shortcuts and start making the wrong kind of decisions. For a long time I put myself down and said it wasn't a proper job. But it is.” – Andrew Weatherall