Interview: Mr Scruff

Printed in complete form here: go and download it! Issues 1 and 2 available now, its a great read and they put on decent events in London town.

I first saw Mr Scruff DJing one long set for the length of an entire 3 day festival! Now, im not one for stereotypes, but i noted the presence of ‘hippies’, ‘townies’ and scamps alike in the audience. Our paths crossed again at uni in Timepiece! The almighty student pit described by Mr scruff himself as “that place”, I couldnt have said it better myself! With three hugely popular albums and fingers in multiple pies… hailing from Manchester, and proceeded undoubtedly by his imense reputation, the legend that is:  “Scruff – let’s talk art, bussiness and vinyl…”

Hi, how are you doing? Im phoning about the interview with Beat Happening…

No problem, Yea very well

Hows the weather?

rubbish… had a good weekend though, thats Britain for you though i guess… you?

Alright, except there was a thunder storm last night…

At least we’ve had it better than you!

Yeah ha! – I may or may not stick to my questions… do you do many interviews over the phone?

about five a week at the moment…

You working on a new album coming out?

No, not for a while… just some new music… various bits and bobs… making good use of the phone!

The first question is fairly generic… in terms of the aesthetic of your music, what makes someone’s music their own?

Well, anyone who makes music personal to them, ends up with a mixture of personality and influences… for me, a DJ, Im influenced by a hell of a lot. For a very long time ive been interested in the social conditions and the history behind the people who made the music. I get a lot of inspiration, and a lot of ideas this way.

So your more interested in making music for yourself than the masses?

Well… basically just enjoying it i think… trying out new stuff, not being too scientific. im not bound by genre, kind of bass noise or tempo. I just put a bit of a twist on stuff and it happens. Some music that’ss 50 years old puts a modern music to shame. Nothing’s really new, just combinging peoples ideas, nuances, subtlties and presenting them in a different way or different context. Having a knowledge of everything, house to blues, dubstep to cuban music, to latin, to reggae, disco, to library music, to classical music, or whatever… I can create a lot of happy accidents… and also, draw connections within music, like being in a lab with loads of mad chemicals and finding what goes together!

How many records you got then?

20,000 or something. I have a few of rooms full of them, im married so i gotta keep it a little bit under control. There’s no way you could ever possibly listen to them all anyway.

Do you still enjoy listening to records?

With that amount of records, your always discovering things that you forgot you even had. There would be no point if i wasnt enjoying it. When something comes out of your hobby, as long as you maintain the right attitude to it, dont start doing stuff you wouldnt normally do, just coz your getting paid for it, then theres no reason why you shouldnt carry on enjoying it. I was djing and collecting music for over ten years before i got my first gig. Its habbit. it has always felt like that, and still feels like that to this day, only today, but i dont have to work in quick save! Im always aware of how lucky i am, that i can play whatever i want, and that i can make a living from it, but i definately dont take it for granted.

Do you feel a kinship with the Manchester scene?

There’s so much music going on in the city, its incredible… I think because its had a legacy for quite a while, you know, northern soul, punk, factory records, it attracts people, it definately has more than its fair share of talented, creative people.

Do you feel more on the live music side of things there than say, the ‘glitch electronica scene’?

Not really man, its not segreagated. Theres so much music that you can’t really keep up with all of it. I love Skam records,  as much as… well, a lot of the indie and rock, you get all sorts… Manchester’s city centre is actually quite small, there is such a lot going on, but its not like in say London where you can just surround yourself with people who are just into one kind of music… there’s no like glitch electronica scene, everyone pretty much knows each other, and there’s not that many venues either…so your just sort of squished in to gether…

Like a melting pot?

No, not really like a melting pot, more like a crowded bus! you get to know what other people are up to, you can’t avoid people really… its good.

Sounds like you like it!

Yeah, definately, ive lived here of 25 years so…

What do you think of the music industry then? the state of it? you must have been asked this a hundred times!

Its on everybody’s lips, everyone wants an answer and nobody has one! The industry has only been around for sort of, 125 / 130 years and we’ve had loads of format wars… the thing is, its going from physical to non physical this time, which throws up loads of issues…

Such as?

Payment, obviously… people are expecting music for free… and the way its distributed, i mean you can get 10,000 mp3s on your ipod, but it will sound like a transistor radio, so were going forwards in terms of convenience and portability, but backwards in terms of quality. It could end ‘bodies’ of work, with people downloading single tracks and whatever. The internet is great in terms of hearing stuff you might not otherwise hear, but theres about an extra 100 000 rubbish tunes on there as well. I expect some 14 year old who lives in orkney will probably come up with a solution to it all!

The people in the most trouble are the major record labels, they have had complete control over pressing plants, distribution, retail, and the machines the music is played on… its getting blown apart a bit, and you’ve got companies like Tesco who think “well ‘we’ve got a hundred thousand outlets, we’ll sign the next Paul Mcartney album’ . its odd.

cool.well i saw you play at a festival somewhere… about ten years ago… an epic long set… i have a signed ticket you singed when you played at timepiece in exeter while I was a student too…

oh that place.

Ha ha yeah. All the best for the future! thanks for talking to us.

You can find Mr Scruff a this official homepage or at He is signed to nija tune and has had two massive releases through them, namely Keep It Unreal (Ninja Tune, 14 July 1999) and Trouser Jazz (Ninja Tune, 16 September 2002). Ninja also recently released his first album titled Mrs. Cruff (re-release) (reissue of Mr. Scruff, 5 May 2005). Check it.

Venetian Snares interview –

Takes place at concorde 2 brighton, 06/06/06 – Overkill special Halloween party backstage with some very cool people such as Mike Paradinas, Scotch Egg, Ned Beckett etc

Having briefly read through this again i see now its bit hard to follow sometimes i think… anyway – sorry if it is!

Venetian snares / Aaron Funk: whats your name?
A.D. Halliday: my name’s andi, Aaron is it? how are you doing?
V: im doing good – Im sweating, my name’s fifi!
A: ok – is it ok to ask you some questions… first question… written in about ten minutes Im afraid, well… – here we go
Mike paradinas (Aron’s label boss / boss of Planet mu recordings) Yeah, well  – none of it can be about music!
V: No! Its merely stipulation – !
A: oh, ok , nothing to do with music, right…
M.P.: (jokes) What’s your favourite colour?
V: Black crayons!!!
M.P. what’s your favourite sexual position?
V: I don’t know Ive never had sex…
MP: (and…) what’s your favourite pizza?
V: Mushroom… Double mushrooms…
A: Have you had pizza in England?
V: I think I’ve had pizza in England before.
MP: who’s your favourite member of girl’s aloud?
V: who’s that..whats that…
American woman: : they’re pretty bad. Fucking shite..
A: Girls aloud are pretty rubbish.
MP: girls aloud are fucking wicked.
A: OK… I beg to differ man… like…
MP: that one song they did that was good was good… there was a homo version they did… that was good.
A: I don’t know any girls aloud tracks…
V: (answer to previous question) doggy style is my favourite sexual position.
A: Ok its time for you to answer a rubbish question.. or rather an arty question.
Can You identify the sources of such extraordinary emotion in your music…
[general banter]
V: Pardon me? You want me to do what?
[general bafflement…struggling]
A:you know… your music is hard hitting but also very extremely melodic and beautiful…
V: I guess so. The music lately, that I make around my house is a little different. I don’t know, I make music when I’m crying,
MP: Sadness.
V: yes, sadness,
MP: Sadness but joyous sadness. Take your joy and be sad about it.
V: beautiful, but painful.
A: well, there we go – that’ll do!
[giggles of disbelief and wonderment]
A:ok – so, do you have a particular working process?
V:Don’t ask me questions like that man. (laughs)
A:ok. How has your music changed since you’ve been able to travel and play your music to ever expanding audiences?
V: I don’t know.
A: Before you started making music and played to people, did you ever have crap jobs? Like you know… I’ve been a bin man before, a dustbin man.
V: A what? You mean like… well my last real job (laughs a lot ‘my last real job hahaha’)
Was a delivery driver. It was fucking wicked man. I was a delivery driver for a bakery. I loved that job I got fired because I crashed the van. I was driving around this like massive stereo, cos this van had these massive speakers and so id listen to music all day, running around. Free cakes all day. I was backing up really fast. You cant get fired for that so… It was good when I crashed it actually, I got to go on unemployment and so I went on unemployment until it ran out… that was wicked.
A: how much you get for that?
V : you get like half your salary every two weeks. You fill out a form…
A: were you living with your parents during this time?
V: no I was living with my girlfriend, this was a long time ago – about five years ago. But she’s not my girlfriend anymore though…
A: haha has there been a few since then?
V: yeah, quite a few…!
A: An arty question: How do you interpret the musical landscape we live in today?
AW: fuck!!
V: Its like trying to avoid stepping in poo.
A: Avoiding the crap?
A: how do you do with that? You manage it ok..
V: sure
[enter brighton’s DJ Scotch Egg, Aaron’s part time touring buddy in UK/Europe]
SE: Hey!
V: Egg! Hey How are you?
SE: Hi How you?…..
V: just perfect.….OK next!
A: How powerful do you think music is politically?
V:I don’t know?
A: Are you interested in politics? As interested as you average man?
V: How interested in politics is your average man? Im not that interested in politics. Who fucking cares… Canada is where the politics are!
AW: that’s why I moved to England!
A: would you consider moving to England?
V: No, I don’t wanna live in England.
A:England’s a bit rubbish..
V:Its alright, you should see where I live. (laughs a dark laugh)
A: Im from the country. You ever been to dorset?
V: I dont know… I cant remember.
A: where have you been on tour?
V: I don’t know. Rome, France, Austria, Vienna, Cambridge and here. The one in the alps was the best. It was loud (MP agrees).
A:How do you think brighton’s gonna turn out?
V: looks good.
A: I read somewhere on the internet that you were a bit hesitant before joining forces with Mike and Planet – Mu. Has that turned out for the best after all?
MP: HA!! So that’s why you sent me a demo – cos you didn’t want to be on my label!
V: I never sent you a fucking demo!?!
MP: Yes you did
V: yeah but you asked me to – you said you’d bought my record and that you wanted to hear some more I sent you a cd. And you sent me loads of planet mu records.
A: so that’s working out for the best then?
V: yep, the more I spoke to mike the more it sounded like a cool idea!
(general banter and laughter people coming in and out of backstage room)
V: yes, now were really special friends! Ha ha ha
I’m not like regular people man, I don’t sit down and think im gonna do this, I’m gonna go to school, and then college and then get a job and settle down and have a kid, then a house, have a kid, and then another kid, and at the weekends have a barbeque… I don’t know…
MP/OTHERS: “Your not like regular people…”
V: I AM NOT LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE!! –Your all fucked up!
A: Thanks very much.
V Your welcome!
MP/V: N>e>d> what time are we all playing? It’s n>e>d>’s birthday…



July 9, 2008

So, I have never actually updated the studio situation.

Basically, we got evicted from our first ‘ABCD’ studio which you can read about here:

We then took on a new one at the marina, in Brighton. It was adjacent to another studio that had been there for a while. We suffered a similar death there as the noise levels were to much for them to record.

Also, steve, our main gear man went to india for a year, so we have wound up with loads of gear and nowhere to play with it… i mean use it. Its a bit of a sod. In fact that reminds me i gotta remember to collect the reel to reel… dont worry Steve I will do that!

We are now semi thinking about finding a new studio.

This is because Flash Bang Band: ( ) has started getting itself together and are anticipating practicing regularly, and as i have made clear in blogs before, i find it much more interesting and better etc… to have your own studio space. esp when you share it with some musical mates…

The new place we may take on is a studio near my house that is essentially an office – it posing the same kind of problems – i see it all going a bit tits up but you never know, with a bit of soundproofing it could work out just fine.

An amazing thing is that as well as the office, the landlords have a 1 mile long tunnel up for lease! Its way out of our budget but imagine using it as a natural reverb or having a rave? Or recording a car inside it? Its massive and very cool. But its also damp and would need stupid money. We dont have stupid money – “Back to the office” then i guess. The tunnel used to be a railway tunnel. Its actually pretty darn clean inside, a bit damp and what have you, but its huge and inspiring to say the least!

So thats that really. Im making most of my music at home as a result but even thats a bit hindered at the moment due to old computer syndrome… My mac done good though seriously!

ABCD STUDIO 25/04/07

April 25, 2007

So we have arrived! Finally, after about six months of scraping for cash, gear, hoping for a result, the studio has been completed. We actually can hardly believe the fact. It has been a mission! We still have a few issues with various people regarding our existence but there we go.

The studio is below a dojo, next to another dojo, has rubbish electrics, no real light in the live room, and people trapse through the studio every five minutes to go and train their po-na na skills or whatever they do.

All in all we are totally chuffed with having our own studio which is kitted out like so:

1 x 24 track SOUNDCRAFT analog mixing desk (used to belong to Dave Watts of the Tornadoes / as in produced by Joe Meek!),

1 x 16 track Fostex p-90 multitrack reel-reel tape recorder,

1 x apple mac powerbook running Pro Tools 7.x LE 16 simultaneaous channels of audio via

1 x MOTU 896 lightpipe audio interface,

Loads of mics, some really nice ones: ribbon, dynamic, omin’s (!!!)

Gear: Vox ac 30, marshal j90, fender studio, hand made Halliday Guitars (compliments of my father, acoustic guitar and bass), vintage tama drum set, peavey big bass stack, orange cabs, effects: Ibanex ad-90, line 6 delay, tla 5056 compressor, aural exciter, loads of plug ins… millions of cables etc etc…


heres some pictures –

studio ,drum kit, ben and i,