Ryan Cullen speaks to Mr Scruff, remedy or Andy Carthy as his family more than likely call him, about marathon DJ sets, cups of tea and his upcoming gig in the Button Factory
Andy Carthy (aka Mr Scruff) is generally recognised as one of the foremost pioneers in the sampling of hip-hop, jazz and almost any other genre, in recent decades. Since the release of his first single in the mid-nineties, he has cemented his reputation with successful albums, famous marathon DJ sets and the quirky idea of selling tea at his gigs. Chatting before his Button Factory appearance on the 16th of March, Mr Scruff exudes a genuine charm and a formidable enthusiasm for his work.
“As a kid I used to listen to John Peel and moved on to early electro in the early 80s. Then around 1984 I started DJing stuff that I heard on the radio such as mixes that were being broadcast, but then a couple of years later I decided to write my own music and just carried on from there really”. Known for his eclectic taste in music, his work exemplifies his knowledge of genres and the complex interwoven mechanisms needed to create what he is now praised for. “I think hip-hop and DJing influenced me into putting samples into my music and then all the music I was influenced by when I was growing up, especially in the eighties. Buying a lot of vinyls and listening to a lot of records educated me about music, as well as reading books and magazines, that sort of thing.”
In the music industry, Andy is known for his laid back attitude and nice guy personality. He tells the College Tribune that he never tried to get into the music industry really and explains that the name Mr Scruff was a mere on the spot kind of thing. “I was just stuck for a name on my first single and we were in the studio, and I had to just come up with it on the spot. I dread to think what I could have come up with.”
Mr Scruff is soon to grace the Button Factory stage with a six hour set. Although not very common in comparison many traditional DJ experiences, Andy speaks of how he has always been most comfortable with the lengthy time frame and how the music progresses throughout the night. “The general rule for me is to start off slow and get louder and faster through the evening. You have to build the atmosphere in the place and as it gets busier the energy builds. If I’m on at nine, I’m not going to play banging techno at five past nine.”
Aside from his music, Mr Scruff is also well-known for his fun artwork and his tea company ‘Make Us A Brew’. Andy talks to us about the subtle rarity that allows people to purchase tea at his gigs. “I’ve been selling tea at gigs for about twelve years now and it’s just a nice little touch to do and it makes people smile. People don’t all drink, some people have to drive, so I thought it was a nice quaint thing to do. After many years of this, people came to the gigs expecting tea, so I thought ‘may as well make our own tea.’”
What makes Mr Scruff albums hit you visually, whether it be on the album cover or in the videos for his singles, is the strange potato shaped characters that inhabit his musically generated world. Andy draws all of his own artwork, which again subtly sets him apart others in his niche field of music. “I have always drawn since I was a kid so it was not only something I was good at, but something I enjoyed. It only made sense after my first single because I even had an art degree.”
Andy seems to genuinely love Irish audiences and speaks of his excitement to get back to the Button Factory for another set that is sure to leave fans foaming at the mouth. “I’m really looking forward to the Button Factory gig, Paddy’s weekend too. I remember Temple Bar being very lively. Last time I played there it was after a big rugby game and the streets were full of these massive drunk men. It was quite scary.”
For an eclectic infusion of jazz, hip-hop, reggae, Latin, African music and heavy bass, head down to the Button Factory on Friday the 16th of March to enjoy one of Mr Scruff’s famous marathon sets.