DJ Scruff has the beats off to a tea

Mr Scruff
Mr Scruff

DJ, philosopher, quirky cartoonist and purveyor of fine teas, Mr Scruff is coming to The Grand in Clitheroe.

A lot has happened since a young Andy Carthy started answering to the name of Mr Scruff – making a name for himself under the shadow of Manchester’s 90s club scene.

Not only has he released several critically acclaimed albums, selling half-a-million records worldwide, this is a DJ who can sell out shows armed only with his records, some turntables and a few spare packets of teabags.

More than that, Scruff has established himself as a general guarantor of quirkiness and quality, so much so that when his range of speciality teas were launched they became the fifth best selling grocery product in the long and illustrious history of Selfridge’s Food Hall.

His “Teacup” tea shop packs in the punters, while, a brilliant cartoonist in his own right, his wobbly potato people adorn T-shirts, brollies and even people’s bodies.

“I enjoy the simple enjoyment of life,” said Scruff, who is set to bring the house down at Clitheroe’s Grand later this month.

“When you open the doors to a gig, and you’ve the entire recorded history of music at your disposal, plus an incredible audience, magical things can happen. But music is a bit like tea isn’t it?

“There’ll always be nerds and trainspotters, but you don’t need to have a massive knowledge of all the internal workings to enjoy music or a good brew. We’ve got loads of different flavours because selection, like with music, depends entirely on the mood you’re in.

“In the morning you might want something really strong to get the gears going; in the evening, you might go for something a bit mellower, or something nourishing that you can feel is good for you. It all depends on you.”

Renowned for his marathon DJ sets – seen each year at Ribble Valley’s Beat-Herder Festival – Mr Scruff dips in and out of soul, funk, hip hop, jazz, reggae, Latin, African, Ska, disco, house, breaks, soundtracks and loads more.

His latest album, “Friendly Bacteria”, has a tough electronic edge all of its own.

“You have to force yourself out of your comfort zone all the time,” he says. “I mean, what’s the point in trying to replicate your success? Some DJs box themselves into a corner, get locked into a certain style. I’m always hungry to hear new music, otherwise you get a bit slack and content.”

He added: “When you do a show, you can’t see a club full of people as a crowd. You see the combined might of that crowd, and a lot of regulars will have far more knowledge about records outside of my periphery, which is why I’ve always had a problem with DJs who refuse to take requests. And, if something has triggered a connection in somebody’s head, I want to know why they made the link.

“It is like you are welcoming every single person into your home – and that’s how I see it.”

Scruff has wowed the crowds at Beat-Herder since his first appearance at the Ribble Valley Festival four years ago.

“When a festival gets it right, it is quite difficult to put into words because it’s not just about the line-up, it’s about people and the environment and Beat-Herder has that special community feel.”

Scruff explains that the potato men first appeared in doodling sessions during his time at high school.

“The surreal, Phython-esque humour has always been there,” he says. “It’s nice to be able to create an imaginary world where you look up and something freaky is happening. I spend a lot of time in my own little bubble anyway, so I think that my doodles live in that universe with me.

“There’s a humour and mischievous side to the drawings that provides a perfect illustration for my music, so it’s a great identity to have live.”

Mr Scruff, Four Hour DJ Night, The Grand, Clitheroe Grand, 7-30 to 11-30 pm, Friday October 24.

Tickets £12.50. Box office: 01200 421599 or www.thegrandvenue.co.uk

Tony Dewhurst