Manchester DJ Andy Carthy, aka Mr. Scruff, talks about his eclectic set ahead of his upcoming gig at Zero Gravity.
You’ve gone from being a local DJ in Manchester to playing across Europe, Australia and Dubai. What’s that been like?
It’s good because I had around ten years of being just a bedroom DJ until the early ’90s and then I had a few years of doing bar gigs in Manchester, and then that slowly progressed to club gigs. I think even by the time I started doing bar gigs I was quite accomplished and I had several thousand records in my collection. I improved my skills, so people started taking notice. It happened quite quickly, but with a lot of obsessive preparation.
How would you describe your DJ sets?
They’re just a really good mixture of different genres of music. It crosses styles and eras. There’s a lot of old stuff and modern stuff. I spend a lot of time searching for music that should have more exposure. I’m not a massive fan of playing big tunes really. It’s nice to have a good mix of afro, Latin, reggae, house, disco, hip-hop, techno, rock and funk. I find that after listening to music for a long time and being a DJ, playing across genres in a really natural way is easy to do.
Growing up, were you always surrounded by a variety of musical influences?
I was a big fan of Madness [’80s British band] as a kid. That confusion of punk and ska music was full of energy and it was perfect for a kid of nine years old, when the likes of Cliff Richard was in the charts. My dad was really into Blues and that was around the house all the time. My mum was into ’60s soul and loved Stevie Wonder. It was a good spread of music. I’d listen to John Peel on the radio and I didn’t realise he was this kind of DJ genius. He was amazing but also symbolic; he played records on the wrong speed. He just gave me a taste for all genres of music. I was into everything.
What records are guaranteed to be in your bag every time?
Probably ‘Ghost Town’ by The Specials – it’s a very special one because it reminds me of when I was ten years old, when that record came out. It kind of haunted me, it was a record that was in the charts and it was an incredible piece of music from a reggae perspective. It was a very futuristic and joyful piece. Another tune is by Cybotron called ‘Clear’, which is probably the tune that started me Djing in 1983. It was a very early techno tune from Detroit, very robotic and funky. I still play those a lot today and that’s 30 years later.
Do you have a favourite record store to shop in?
Yeah, Piccadilly Records in Manchester.
Free for gents before 10pm and Dhs100 after; free for ladies before midnight and Dhs100 after. 3pm-3am. February 27. Zero Gravity, SkyDive Dubai, Dubai Marina (04 399 0009).