Terry Francis has been resident DJ at fabric since its opening in October 1999. Now, as the Farringdon nightclub approaches its 19th birthday party this Saturday – the age which means fabric can now legally enter itself – Francis might keep a mental scrapbook of moments to reflect on during his near two decades as one of the iconic venue’s figureheads. He however makes a convincing counter-point: “Not really you know, obviously there have been great memories but I was usually having too good a time to remember what normally happened!”

Makes sense.

“When I first started there I never really thought about it really, how long it would last. It was just a party really when we started. It's a fantastic club still, great that it’s keeping going. They've had some ups and downs, but they seem to be winning again.”

Though Francis acknowledges that the club has evolved over the years, he insists its soul and purpose subsists: “it’s gone through some different changes, but still kept its underground status. It's that style of music, sort of dark, vivid music. It suits that club, you know with the atmosphere and the architecture. It works there really. It's an underground club, still cutting edge.”

Francis has also contributed the second most fabric mixes – the legendary CD-based mix series founded in 2001 which recently concluded, alongside its sister FABRICLIVE series, with their respective 100th iterations – with three, narrowly behind the four of co-worker resident and fellow mixing legend Craig Richards. Francis has collaborated with Richards and club co-founder Keith Reilly for fabric 100.

For his end of the mix, Francis explained that he “wanted to go back to my roots really. I went back to my old album Architecture, really just a bit of techy stuff, ups and downs you know, techno, house, and now there’s tech house. I don't really like that word "tech house", it's like pot holes, it's restrictive.”

He added: “A bit of acid, a bit of vocals, bit of peak house, just a bit of a story really. Trying to capture some tunes from different parts of the club, and one of the tunes is way before the club even opened but we used to play it there at the end of the night. A nice deep tune. Trying to go back to my roots a little bit really rather than follow any fashion. A nice story for the mix, you know.”

Before he and fabric became indissoluble, Francis had become renowned as one of the best DJs in the country, winning Muzik Magazine’s “Best New DJ” award in 1997, but also for helping define the tech-house style with the release of that mix album Architecture the same year, arguably the most en vogue trend in dance music at the minute; but as Francis says, he found what it became disingenuous and limiting, even creating his alternative moniker “house-no”.

“Yeah just taking the piss really. It was just a word to sell records. This was back in 2001, I saw this bullshit about everyone trying to claim who made the word. And it's so silly, come on man, it wasn't a single effort, it was a joint effort, we were all playing other people’s music anyway. No one invented it, it was just we played what we liked and what was coming out.”

“It's just seems to be this really loopy, tribal, predictive house music, and that's what tech house wasn't about. It was about not following the rules, it was about playing different breakbeats mixed with techno all in one night, and this just seems to be some loopy interpretation of all them tunes stuck into one tune.”

How does he reflect on Architecture 21 years on? “Just a little bit too fast now I think. Before I was a lot younger, bit more excitable, played too high a BPM. People send it back to me and I think that's quite cool, that's what music should be, it should be lasting, not just the latest fad and then sounds crap 6 months later.”

Wiggle is a label, clubnight – and yes, vibe – project Francis had been running before and adjacent to his fabric tenure, originating in his and partner in crime Nathan Coles’s desire to preserve the spirit of acid house; for years held in secret locations with details spread through word of mouth, the event encapsulated acid house’s unpretentious dedication to communal euphoria, and to immersively deep house tunes.

Due to tragic circumstances, Wiggle’s regular parties were put on pause, but Francis reveals that it's set to return bigger than ever: “We’re starting to relaunch it. We've had a couple of bad years so it's all been a bit up in the air, but New Years Eve this year we're going to be starting up again. Get some younger people involved, keeping it fresh, and we're really going to think about handing it down to Nathan’s two sons and my two daughters so they can carry on. It's being going for 25 years so might go for half a century!”

When asked what made Wiggle special for him, it’s evident that it’s not just the sheer amount of time he’s invested in the project, but the arc of that timeframe, and the lifelong friendships he’s made from it.

“It was all friend of a friend, all word of mouth. When we first started we didn't allow cameras in there. Wouldn't do any interviews with anyone. It just made the press more and more interested rather than putting them off cause they want to know what they don't know. Then we started to do a couple of interviews and it just took off. At that point there was a real hole in the market. Everything was going in a circle, same old DJs. No disrespect to those DJs. They were doing their thing, but it was getting so commercial and we saw a hole so we started Wiggle. The people we’ve met have been amazing, I still think Eddie Richards is my favourite DJ.”

How does he think London nightlife has changed since fabric’s opening? “I think DJs struggle to find their own style now. A lot of DJs trying to be someone else rather than finding their own style and having your own approach which gets you recognised. But it's hard to have your own style now I think, because when you used to work in a record shop you'd get records early but now everyone gets their records at exactly the same time and everyone’s got the same tunes, so there's not as much build up or hype for a tune.”

He continues: “It was a social occasion. You'd go down to the record shop and listen to some music. People would know what you like and they knew your style and they would save what you like [in record shops]. Now it's not so much of a social occasion. Just going on a site and sitting there going through loads and loads of music that sounds the same.”

We end our conversation asking if he plans to celebrate the birthday with any particular tracks, and he’s typically easygoing: “I haven't thought about it too much yet. I'm always a bit of a random, spontaneous person, I turn up and just play what I think will suit the crowd and where it’s going. So no plans really, I'll have lots of different tunes on me, but I’ll just go with the flow as normal.”

You can buy tickets for fabric's birthday party this weekend here.