In the wake of his brilliant 2014 album Friendly Bacteria, Manchester-based electronic producer Mr. Scruff, AKA Andy Carthy has been busy in the studio creating some of the finest remixes of 2016, whilst touring his famous all-night DJ sets across the globe.
Ahead of his six-hour set at Bristol’s Old Fire Station this February, Nitelife caught up with the Get A Move On producer to find out what’s in store for his sold-out gig.
‘There will be loads of really weird and wonderful tunes, put together in a way that makes sense. I enjoy playing with the mood and energy of the room. I like to bring a mixture of old and new to try and create a really engaging mix of music. You’ll get loads of “what on earth is that?” and get excited about a piece of music you might not have heard before.
‘It all depends on the atmosphere, acoustics and the mood in the room, and I go from there. Once you set the tone and people come in and respond to it, you’ve got a conversation going. For me that is the most engaging thing about DJing. Every night will be very different to the last, even if you’re playing in the same venue week in, week out. You’ve got to make sure you achieve that high level of energy and reach a point where everyone’s going nuts… But how you get there is the fun part.’
It’s definitely high time I made another album
The DJ who’s famous for knocking back cups of tea mid-mix might have a laid back exterior behind the decks, but admits that a lot of work goes into the set up for each gig.
‘I believe it’s important to arrive at a venue with plenty of time to set up before a gig to give time to deal with any technical issues. For instance, with the Bristol show we will probably get to the venue about 4pm and spend three or four hours setting up, because it’s important not to rush. I’ve even been known to go out and buy a soldering iron before a gig before! It’s good because it means you can relax and enjoy the night when the doors open.’
With several high profile remixes under his belt in 2016, including Local Talk Records’ Lay-Far remix of Lock and Rock and Submotion Orchestra’s Needs, the iconic producer runs through what he thinks makes a good remix:
‘A good remix has got to have a spark and make sense as a finished piece of work. Generally in a remix, you tend to take a song and keep the basic elements, but extend some parts using tape editing and the decks to push and pull certain sounds.
‘I think it’s important to listen to the original tune and give it a level of respect. It’s like saying you appreciate what they’ve done, but you have a slightly different vision for it and then you tackle it from there. Some remixes are barely recognisable but really I think it’s only polite to use some elements of the original track.
‘One of the things I really like about remixes is that you are given a set of elements you might not have necessarily chosen yourself. It kind of pushes you outside your comfort zone. You can open your ears to the way other people create music in the studio as well.’
Along with producing a number of remixes across the year, Mr. Scruff also found himself in the studio with the Tru Thoughts-signed soul singer, Harleighblu.
‘I first met Harleighblu at one of her gigs in Manchester a few years ago. It was one of those where we just swapped numbers and started working together. I love the music she’s done already, but I can hear loads of other directions her music could go off in with her vocal delivery. It’s really nice to have someone come into the studio where you’ve already got a list of things you could try. She’s got tonnes of energy and is really open to new ideas as well.
You’ve got to make sure you achieve that high level of energy and reach a point where everyone’s going nuts… But how you get there is the fun part
‘We’ve done about four or five tunes together so far, but it’s best with things like this to just carry on working on them and when they’re ready, release them into the wild.’
Looking back on the past year, Mr. Scruff shares his highlights of 2016: ‘I’m really bad at picking highlights because I really enjoy what I do, so it’s difficult to cherry pick… I remixed a piece of music by American composer Steve Reich for the Decca Classics Re:Works compilation in the summer last year. I was really grateful to be part of that. Aside from that, I’ve had a really nice year touring around the world, meeting really nice people and being able to play the music I love.’
It’s a fresh new year and we couldn’t finish up without asking what’s in store for 2017.
‘There’s a lot of unfinished bits and bobs I need to sort out first. It’s the beginning of the year so it’s time for a spring clean. But after that I will roll my sleeves up, get back in the studio and have some fun making new music, because it’s definitely high time I made another album.’
Catch Mr. Scruff at The Old Fire Station on 18 February for a six-hour DJ set you will never forget.