Where Can I Hear Mr. Scruff Mixes Online?
There are several mixes available online, here is a current list of available ones that I know about. I record many of my gigs, and try and make sure that some of these are available for streaming. Do you know of any more? Or is there an old mix you are trying to get hold of? Let me know!
The best place to hear new scruff tunes & mixes is the Scruff SoundCloud page.
- milk audio full recording of my all night session with milk & footprints at revival in toronto on July 1st 2007. An amazing evening!
- milk audio mix from keep it unreal, dec 2005.
- giant step mix from keep it unreal, feb 2006.
- you can check the hotpot radio archives here
- Samurai FM mix live from the UR night at the warehouse project, plus a 2 hour mix recorded at 'keep it unreal' 7th birthday, july 2006. Go to the bottom of the home page to 'feature archive' & scroll down.
What DJ Set Up Do You Use?
For my DJ gigs, I use a 8x2’ or 8x4’ steeldeck with 2 ½ foot legs, paved with heavy concrete slabs. It is important that the DJ table is rock solid if you are playing vinyl, to avoid jumping & feedback.
If the stage/booth is a bit wobbly, I place the slabs on to of Dunlop training squash balls, each sitting on a roll of electrical tape for stability.
I use 3xVestax PDX-2300pro turntables, modified by Justin Greenslade at Isonoe with Rega tonearms & Isonoe feet. The transformers on these decks can be quite noisy, so I had mine put together in an external rack mount unit. I use Grado 200i cartridges, as these are by far the best sound quality of any DJ stylus. Unfortunately, they are very delicate, so back cueing can be awkward, and scratching is out of the question! The difficult handling is more than justified by the fantastic sound quality though, and the separation & image are incredible.
I use a Formula Sound PM-100 mixer, as the sound quality is excellent, it has 2 auxiliary sends & 3 inserts, plus the modular design means you can adapt it to your own needs.
I use a seperate phono preamp rack, custom made by isonoe. It is a 1U 19" rack, with three phono preamps in.
CD players are Pioneer CDJ1000s. If anyone knows of a way to modify these to make them sound better, please let me know! For some unexplainable reason, they output digital as 24 bit rather than 16..
For effects I use a tc electronics D2.
I bypass the master buss on the mixer, and go straight out of the record out into a custom made Isonoe EQ. It is a passive transistor EQ, with a sub shelf cut/boost, 6-way switchable low & high mid reductive EQ, and a switchable 6 way high shelf boost/cut. This is mainly for re-equing harsh or dull records on the fly, to add sub or HF, or cut out unwanted low & high mid resonances or harshness.
The cables are Van Damme.
Another very important item is Ben, my sound engineer. It is good to have someone on your side out front when you are djing, especially as many clubs & venues can have poorly set up PA systems.
When I am playing in mainland UK, I always take my own DJ kit, to ensure high sound quality.
I play vinyl where possible. I don’t mind cds, and play some new promo material from cd, as well as some personal cd compilations of rare album tracks, or re-edits. I don’t use Serato/Final Scrach/Ableton but have nothing against it, if good quality 16 or 24 bit WAV or AIFF files are used. MP3s are fine for your iPod, mobile phone or car, but in a club? Are you mad?!
My aim when djing is to play music that inspires me. It is very important for me to expose my influences, and I work on the premise that if something influences me, then people who like my music, which contains a lot of varied musical influences, will enjoy hearing where it came from too. Its all about the roots! I generally play all night, or at least 3 hours at festivals, as I enjoy playing many styles, but without rushing between them. It is a lot easier to join the dots when you are not in a hurry, and it feels more natural to do so.
What Studio Equipment Do You Use?
I record & arrange using Logic 8 on a Mac. I don’t have a lot of kit at home (MPC 60, SP1200 & korg ms2000), but I use Zombie studio in Manchester, who have a small but perfectly formed arsenal of quality outboard gear (Manley, Apogee, Avalon, Distressors, Al Smart, Kettle, Toaster etc) & keyboards (upright piano, Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Hammond, Roland, Nord, Moog Voyager, Clavinet etc). I tend to use the studio for recording audio & mixing, and I do some arranging at home, or while travelling.
I work with samples, then work with musicians to help flesh out the ideas. I think it is very important to keep the roughness, grit & weight you get from sampled music. The aim is a fusion of the two. Sometimes I program samples to sound live, other times I process & edit live stuff to sound like samples. Let’s blur the boundaries! Sometimes I visualise each element as a cartoon person, and try to get this band of imaginary musicians to interact with one another.
Can I Send You A Demo / Promo?
Of course! I do get sent too much stuff already, and I am very fussy, but if you are confident that your music is one of the 5% of tunes that I would be into, go ahead!
My postal address is 18 sparkle street, Manchester, M1 2NA, UK.
Stuff I do like..soulful, original music.
Stuff I don’t like..trance, hard house, commercial house, funky house, nu school breaks, big beat style party breaks, full on hard drum & bass (but I love the likes of calibre), happy hardcore, polite ambient music with spoken word or whale noises, commercial R&B, commercial hip hop, indie by numbers..
When Are You Next Playing In San Francisco / Bodmin / Acapulco / Paris etc.
There is only one of me, so it is difficult to play all over the place & keep on top of studio work. Apologies if I seem to be avoiding your area! If you would like me to come & play near you, mention it on the scruff forum.
I Want To Book You For A DJ Gig. How Do I Go About This?
For North America, email firstname.lastname@example.org
For other areas, email email@example.com
More info here: www.codaagency.com/mrscruff.htm
What’s With The Fish?
The first aquatic themed tune I recorded was ‘Sea Mammal’ on my debut ‘Hocus Pocus’ EP in 1995. After I released the record, I found a load more watery spoken word samples that I wished I had used on the track, and so I decided to record another one, called ‘Fish’. This was a lot more complex than ‘Sea Mammal’, and involved creating a narrative from hundreds of different spoken word samples, mainly from children’s records. At this point I realised I had a bit of a theme here, and continued in a similar vein with ‘Shanty Town’. Both of these tracks were released on my 1999 LP ‘Keep It Unreal’. For my follow up LP, 2002’s ‘Trouser Jazz’ I decided to continue the theme with ‘Ahoy There’. There are no plans to record any more fish-themed tunes, as I think I have pretty much taken it as far as it can go without feeling seasick!
Tell Me About Your Cartoons
I started drawing in a potato style in my early teens. You can see some early examples of my work in the gallery on this site. Over the next 5 years or so, the style simplified into what you see today. I do all my own record & cd covers, most of my gig flyer designs, and all the artwork for my videos & club visuals. For the videos, animation companies such as Box & Cosgrove Hall did the clever stuff, and with the club visuals, Jim Dawson of the soup collective in Manchester performs the boffinry, as well as doing the visuals when I tour. Examples of both the videos & club visuals can be seen in the gallery on this site.
During the mid-late ‘90s, I did regular cartoons for Jockey Slut & 7 magazines.
There is an article in the online magazine Beatmag about my artwork.
Tea / Pies / Ale... Are You Obsessed?
Yes, but no more than most! I love simple pleasures, and tea, pies & ale certainly qualify for that title! I love trying out new varieties, it is one of the joys of travelling.
I love a rich, malty assam or English breakfast blend, and buy a lot of loose tea. There are some genius tea bags called ‘teeli-flip’, which are like a sock made out of teabag paper, so you can put your own tea leaves in, and have a proper brew without getting tea leaves all over the place. You can’t beat a teapot though, for the real deal!
In 2007, my tea obsessiveness got the better of me, and we started the Make Us A Brew! tea company. Check the website for full details!
Making A Brew
Some people ask me about the teabag on a spoon technique, which I learnt from Peter Parker of Fingathing. Here is the full breakdown of the method for making black tea in a mug with a teabag.
1. Boil the kettle with fresh water..no reboiling!
2. Warm the mug..you can do this by pouring in a little warm water from the kettle while it is boiling, swishing it around & emptying it. This will help keep your brew warm for longer, essential for forgetful types like myself!
3. Pour milk into the cup. If this offends you, you can add it later.
4. Take a spoon (tablespoons are best, but a teaspoon will do)
5. Place the teabag on the spoon, and hold it horizontally over the mug.
6. When the kettle has boiled, hold it over the teabag, and pour as slowly as possible from as high as possible, without making the water splash upwards off the teabag. If you are doing this correctly, you will see little bubbles in the teabag, which is a sign of the oxygen in the boiling water doing its job.
7. When the cup is full, add the milk if you have not done so, and examine your brew. If your tea is the correct colour (mine is a kind of brick red/malty brown) then you can discard the teabag. If it is not strong enough for your taste, then delicately lower the teabag onto the top of the tea, and slip the spoon out from under it. Leave it there until the brew is strong enough, and gently remove the bag with the spoon. There is no need to stir the bag or squash it in any way..tease the flavour out!
8. Add sugar/salt/cheese/pickle to taste.
9. Sit down & enjoy your brew!
10. Repeat from stage 1.
Pies... who invented the pie? What an amazing idea! I like all types of pie, from a pastie (or pasty) to a proper pie, or even a flan or quiche! Beware, the American term for pie is more of a fruit affair (think banoffee pie for example). Also be wary of imposters like ‘shepherds pie’ or ‘fish pie’ which may have no pastry at all, and a layer of mashed potato on top. I prefer to call these ‘clouds’ rather than pies, also, hugo posted something about those stews with a pastry lid that masquerade as pies... imposters!!
Ale... I love real ale, preferably hand-pulled in a country pub. There are also some great bottle-conditioned real ales too, mostly with daft names. Personal favourites..Moorhouses Black Cat Mild, Caledonian Deuchar’s IPA, Pale Rider, Marble Brewery Beers, Skinners Brewery..don’t get me started! I also like Belgian & German beers, and some of the American Microbrewery ales. Yum!
The tea shop first came into being in 2000, when my Manchester residency ‘Keep it Unreal’ moved to the Music Box. Its foyer entrance, often used to house a second room of music, seemed perfect for hosting a tea shop. The feedback was very positive, and it seems that I am not the only one who enjoys drinking tea in nightclubs! We decided to give all the money raised each month to charity. We now take the tea shop on tour whenever I play a ‘Keep it Unreal’ date in the UK, as well as hosting a teepee at the 2003, 2004, 2006 & 2007 Big Chill, and 2007 womad festivals.
How The Random Merchandise Started
The tea shop became popular, and we made some cartoon mugs to serve the tea in, which also went down well. We had two aprons made for the tea staff, but over the months they became so inundated with requests to buy them, that we had to make some more to satisfy demand! Once we realised that people liked stuff with my doodles, we continued to produce some more tea-related items (more mugs/teapots/tea bags in caddies/drinks mats etc). We wanted to make an effort to produce more than the usual standard merchandise items, and include an element of the humour that is so integral to my work. You can check the scruff shop on this site for a selection of scruff bits & bobs. Any comments or daft ideas for new things are welcome!
In late 1994, i was in Primetime recording studio in Manchester, having just finished my first ep. Liam, the engineer asked me what name i wanted to use, as he had to write it on the DAT tape of the ep. I thought for a moment & said 'Mr Scruff'.