Devoted tea drinker and honest northerner with a commitment to eclecticism, Mr Scruff returns to Leicester this June and invites you to welcome the summer sun and make his musical acquaintance. We sat down with him to talk influences, stamina and his visit to Leicester later this summer.
Whether in a muddy field, a cavernous warehouse or even on a B&Q advert, we’ve been witness to and blessed with the certified classic that is Mr Scruff’s Get a Move On, but this particular success story was by no means an accident. Get A Move On was the result of accumulating influence, impeccable disc selection and… a bit of hard graft.
You see Mr Scruff knows his stuff and has maintained a consistent presence in the UK music industry and on the international circuit for the last 20 years. It was at the age of 12 when his friend played Streetsounds LP ‘Crucial Electro Volume 1’ that his eyes and ears were opened to the art of mixing. “It’s all about the playfulness and the process” that has enabled the same enlightenment to continue all these years later in both his mixing and creation of his own compositions.
His prevailing knowledge of the what, the how and the where of the UK music industry and its history of influences has allowed him to delve deep into genres and hand pick the finest beats and samples to fill our ears and ready our souls with.
“I only play music that I am genuinely excited about. I’m lucky enough to have grown up listening to many DJs covering many different musical styles. After years of digging for the music that I love, learning the history & the culture behind the music, I’ve found so many connections between artists, continents, cultures & eras that the term ‘genre’ has gradually becomes less important.”
But, if we are to speak in such layman’s terms as those of us without a back catalogue and 20,000 plus record collection – what can we expect from a night with Mr Scruff? “I will be playing for the whole five hours. I don’t play in Leicester very often, so I want you all to myself!”
The extensive nights Mr Scruff has become renowned for originated from the late ‘90s when 2-3 hour slots weren’t unusual. But, three hours wasn’t quite enough time for Mr Scruff to reveal his musical love affair and fit all his influences in. He requested lengthier sets before deciding to open his own night that truly embodies his musical influences.
Flitting between soul, funk, hip hop, Latin, African, ska, disco, house, funk, breaks … (the list could go on) Mr Scruff brought all the music that he loved together under one night, “so in 1999 I started my own monthly ‘Keep It Unreal’ residency in Manchester.”
Since then, Keep It Unreal has become a constant in the Mancunian cultural calendar that features the latest collaborations between Mr Scruff and the hottest emerging and established talent. All Night Long is the resultant touring night, where it’s a purely Mr Scruff filled evening. “Playing the whole night means that I really get to know the crowd. I’m able to create an atmosphere early on that makes for a unique evening, without having to rush or force the pace in order to cover a variety of moods, tempos & genres.”
And how does he keep going for nearly five hours? “I love it!” He suggests we pose that question to the people who dance for five whole hours, but we can assume it would probably be the same answer.
As proof of his pure enthusiasm for the job, Mr Scruff still plays his DJ sets unplanned to suit the specific audience, allowing him to rifle through his abundance of influences. But, where’s he finding inspiration right now? “There is so much great music around right now. DJ-wise, Hunee, Floating Points, Jamie 3:26, Mr. Thing, Colleen Murphy, Jon K & Kelvin Brown always do the business.”
Being attached to Ninja Tune since 1999 we can assume this helps Mr Scruff keep up with the latest releases as well as emerging talent. “Actress, Pearson Sound, Daphni, Madd Again, Equiknoxx, Demdike Stare & Kaidi Tatham are all releasing great music.” There are a few for you to tap into on Soundcloud.
So Leicester, dust off your dancing shoes as the legend of Mr Scruff graces the decks at O2 Academy this June. Be sure to watch out for the classified Mr Scruff branding too as he usually plays to a backdrop of his own animations of whales or something that is between a bacteria and a potato.
If you’re really lucky the evening can be rounded off with a sample of Mr Scruff’s finest tea brew as he’s not only a world renowned DJ but the proud owner of his own café, Teacup Kitchen, in Manchester too.
Bobbing along to a tune with a brew – what could be better?
Mr Scruff is playing O2 Academy2 on Saturday 3rd June.