(Valentine’s Day Special!) Interview: Mr. Scruff

By on Tuesday, 14th February 2012 at 12:00 pm

Editor’s note: Love can be found in a cup of…well, keep reading this interview Luke did with someone very special and you shall discover the answer…

Andrew Carthy, aka Mr Scruff, first broke into the UK DJ scene in 1994 and has since become a favourite of clubbers around the world. With six studio albums under his belt and another slated for later this year, I caught up with Scruff for a quick chat about music and cups of tea.

As a DJ who has been a part of the UK music scene for over 10 years, what is the biggest change you’ve noticed?
Generally, most DJs have stopped playing vinyl, although I still do. Clubbers are getting younger, but in reality that is just me getting older. Also, an acceptance of dubstep has made club audiences more comfortable dancing to slow music, which is great!

Do you have any favourite new artists?
Floating Points, Illum Sphere, Krystal Klear, Fatima and Michael Kiwanuka.

You’re associated with the Manchester dance music scene, what do you think makes Manchester so significant?
Manchester has a large student population, and many people who come to study end up staying and starting up record labels, bands or club nights. Combine this with a very active local music scene, and bad weather (so people stay indoors and make music) and you have a lot going on!

The majority of your artwork is colourful and cartoonish in style, what is your biggest influence?
Kids’ TV from the ’70s. Sesame Street, Bod, The Clangers and similar stuff with a distinct, simple style and a great sense of humour.

You have your own online tea company, how did that idea come about?
The tea thing 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 that 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 then took the tea shop on tour whenever I play a ‘Keep it Unreal’ date in the UK, as well as hosting a teepee at the some UK festivals. About five years ago, we were selling so much tea that we decided to set up our own tea company Make Us A Brew.

What’s the secret to a perfect cup of tea?
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 and 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 and enjoy your brew!

10. Repeat from stage 1.

You haven’t released an album since 2009, do you have plans for another LP release?
Yes, I have nearly finished the next LP. It should be released later this year on Ninja Tune.

You’re known for playing 6-hour sets, doesn’t it become quite gruelling as the tour goes on?
Yes, but they are great fun! I tend to cut it down to 5 hours if we are doing a few gigs in a row. We generally travel on a tour bus so we get plenty of sleep, and we always have three hours for a meal before the gig to give myself and the crew time to relax before the night starts.

What records are essential for any of your performances?
My own records. Plus I always have records by Leroy Burgess, Floating Points, Fela Kuti and Theo Parrish in the box.

If the Mayans are correct and the world is going to end this year, what is the last thing you’re going to do?
Be extra nice to people.

Mr. Scruff begins a UK tour this Friday, the 17th of February, including a stop at London Koko on Saturday the 18th. For more information, visit Mr. Scruff’s official Web site.

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