Mr Scruff - He Wants Your Soul
Monday, 21 July 2008
If the mark of a committed DJ is to dig into the crates, dusting off old wax, then Mr Scruff, aka Andrew Carthy, is the real deal. The only thing he loves as much as unearthing a lost classic is a cup of tea - or maybe his pies. And, in raiding murky warehouses, looking for forgotten records, Carthy imagines himself as a 'musical archaeologist'. 'That's just like excavating some Roman ruins,' he quips.
The eclectic Mancunian DJ is plugging a compilation under the banner of the Southport Weekender - a comp he co-headlines with Jazzanova. The long-running biannual UK festival - a celebration of soul music - may mean little to those in the southern hemisphere, but the package stands on its own. 'Most of the tunes on there are personal favourites that I've been into for a very long time but I don't really hear other people play,' Carthy says.
Carthy wanted his CD to reflect what he spins at the festival and, as such, it's more rooted in soul than his other comps. However, the DJ reckons that the quality will impress Australians unfamiliar with the fest. 'With 50 years of soul music to choose from, there's no excuse for having any average music on there,' he says.
Carthy's fond of the Northern soul scene as it's all about playing rare - and therefore underexposed - music. 'There's always so much amazing 'new' old music. I'm constantly hearing 50-year-old soul records which I've never heard before - and that's as exciting to me as any kind of new production tricks or whatever.'
The vintage soul lover isn't into most contemporary RNB. 'My problem with a lot of the new stuff is it's too smooth - and very safe,' he says. 'What mostly appeals to me about soul music is the rawness and the emotion that's conveyed on that record. When something is produced in a big studio - especially with the modern RNB techniques, where people sing 'remix' down a mobile phone and that kind of thing - it's pretty dull.'
There are exceptions. Mr Scruff's Southport Weekender ends with a relatively recent tune from Detroit's Theo Parrish. He isn't hardline. 'I like any music as long as it's got some passion and a bit of dirt in it,' he says. 'A few wrong notes and a bit of out-of-time playing and I'm a happy man.'
Carthy even has something positive to say about rising Brit-soulsters like Duffy. 'She's getting 14-year-old girls into soul music, which is brilliant!' And he digs Amy Winehouse. 'She's got an amazing voice. I'm not into everything she does, but I'll still check everything, because she's a real person and the records haven't been polished up to within an inch of their lives.'
Carthy is unsure when he'll return to Australia. He's busy at home. Aside from being a quirky cartoonist, Andy has forged a respectable production career, the DJ best remembered for 2002's Trouser Jazz - his last LP - on Ninja Tune.
Mr Scruff has rediscovered music-making - and is airing several singles. 'It's just nice to finally be releasing music again.'
WHO: Mr Scruff
WHAT: Southport Weekender 7 through suSU/Inertia
WHEN: Out now