Keep­ing it un­real

Infusion Magazine - - LOOKING FORWARD -

Al­ter­na­tive hero, Ninja Tune star and tea cham­pion, there’s no one else in the world like Mr Scruff. Which is why we got very, very ex­cited when we heard he was fi­nally mak­ing it down to Dubai thanks to the DUST crew to play Zero Grav­ity on Fe­bru­ary 27

A very warm wel­come to the Mid­dle East – we know a LOT of peo­ple have been ask­ing you to play here, what made you say yes this time?

Be­ing a man who has great trou­ble iron­ing a shirt, I have al­ways been a bit du­bi­ous of the over the top, bling as­pects of Dubai, but I know that it is just a case of find­ing the right peo­ple to work with. James Lock­smith (of DUST) knows his mu­sic, and he got in touch via a friend to ask me to play, so here I am!

And what fac­tors do you con­sider when de­cid­ing to take gigs?

Mostly venue tech­ni­cal stuff, as it has to look and sound good. Flights too, for over­seas gigs. Di­rect flights are best, so that lug­gage is less likely to go miss­ing. I also have to make sure that the rout­ing/travel etc en­ables us to get some sleep!

What’s in a typ­i­cal Mr Scruff set at the mo­ment?

Oh, all sorts. I never set­tle on one sound or style, and each set is dif­fer­ent depend­ing on the lo­ca­tion and mood. That ap­proach keeps it fun. Jazz, soul, funk, house, disco, reg­gae, afrobeat, latin, techno, hip hop… as long as it sounds good and works, then it goes in the box. Do you still take your own mixer and decks with you to gigs? If so, what are they and what makes them so spe­cial? The turnta­bles are cus­tomised with Ori­gin ton­earms and ex­ter­nal power sup­plies, but I only take them to a few gigs. I take my

For­mula Sound PM-100 mixer, Iso­noe phono preamps, Iso­noe iso­la­tor, loads of ca­bles and some stylii (AT440, which sound fan­tas­tic, but are very del­i­cate, or M97xE, which sound pretty good, and are a bit less del­i­cate). If it is dif­fi­cult to source equip­ment, it is much eas­ier if I bring my own.

We read you have in ex­cess of 20,000 records, all in­di­vid­u­ally cat­a­logued and an­no­tated – how many weeks/months/years did that take?

About 30 years. I started or­gan­is­ing them very early on, so it was easy to keep them in check.

Dance­floor re­quests – good or bad?

It de­pends. In gen­eral, they are a good thing, es­pe­cially if the peo­ple mak­ing the re­quests are re­ally into the mu­sic. Some of my big­gest tunes started out as re­quests from my reg­u­lars at my Manch­ester res­i­dency. There is a lot of mu­si­cal knowl­edge on the dance­floor!

And we’ve heard that you’ll call peo­ple out us­ing their mo­bile phone dur­ing your set?

I am not a fan of peo­ple play­ing with phones on the dance­floor, ei­ther when I am DJing or on the floor my­self. I love that communal en­ergy you get when every­body is on the same wave­length and in the mo­ment, and peo­ple tak­ing pic­tures, or stand­ing still and tex­ting just suck the en­ergy out of the dance­floor. Phones in gen­eral in a so­cial sit­u­a­tion are just a bit of a turn-off, to be hon­est. It is easy enough to just step away from the dance­floor to take a pic­ture or play with your phone, so ev­ery­one else can get on with danc­ing. Phones are very handy, but our in­stinct is to reach for them ev­ery 5 min­utes. Good things can hap­pen when we switch them off and pay more at­ten­tion to the peo­ple and things around us. End of speech!

Where do you stand on the ed­u­cat­ing/en­ter­tain­ing bal­ance – 50/50? And where do you think Dubai will sit on that reg­is­ter?

My job is to get peo­ple ex­cited about the mu­sic that I play, and to thor­oughly en­joy my­self while do­ing so. I find that tak­ing a lot of care with the sound, and play­ing a long set means that I can take my time to pull peo­ple in and build a good re­la­tion­ship and rap­port with the crowd. I think the main thing is to take risks, and to never un­der­es­ti­mate what peo­ple can deal with on a mu­si­cal level. If you hold back, it be­comes a bit two-di­men­sional and pre­dictable.

Reader ques­tions

(Stu Todd) What is your favourite blend of tea? I pre­fer straight-up sin­gle es­tate good­ies of all styles.

(Fin­lay Le­Fox) What’s your favourite piece of clas­si­cal mu­sic? (Ross Laing) Do you re­mem­ber mix­ing DJ Shadow into The Spe­cials to 50 drunk, but ex­tremely ap­pre­cia­tive, stu­dents in Derby on a Tues­day night? (Grand Bishop) Who would win in a fish slap­ping con­test be­tween you and Mark Rae (Rae & Chris­tian/Grand Cen­tral Records) and which fish would you choose as a weapon? I think Mark has a thing for cod. (Gareth Davies) How did you come to­gether with Float­ing Points at Plas­tic Peo­ple? And are you do­ing any­thing with him now it’s closed?

Steve Re­ich, ‘Mu­sic for 18 Mu­si­cians’. Yes, my only gig in Derby! I re­mem­ber that the pro­moter was called Vuyani. Must have been over 15 years ago! Mark would win hands down. He reg­u­larly han­dles large cod, and has the cor­rect gloves for the job. I met Sam a few years ago, he used to come to my night when he lived in Manch­ester. We played to­gether in Manch­ester on NYE, and will def­i­nitely do some more gigs to­gether. What a tal­ented young chap!

(Adil El-Aoud) What decade of hip hop res­onates most with you and why?

I would say early 1990s, a bit of a golden era for me, es­pe­cially pro­duc­tion-wise with Pete Rock, Primo, Large Pro... Also be­cause it heav­ily in­flu­enced my early pro­duc­tion. I like all eras though, each has their own sound and has in­flu­enced me in some way.

(Dan Chad­wick) 4 ques­tions, com­pletely un­re­lated of course:

What is your full postal ad­dress? What is the alarm code? In which room do you keep your records? Do you have the num­ber of a man with a size­able van? That made me laugh out loud. Thanks Dan!

Mr Scruff plays Zero Grav­ity on Fri­day Fe­bru­ary 27, 6pm-3am, Dhs100 af­ter 10pm, ladies free un­til mid­night.

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