Trouble at Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh, Fri 15 Dec
‘If you listen to a lot of DJs these days,’ opines Andy Carthy, aka venerable cut-up supremo Mr Scruff, ‘you get the impression that their knowledge of music’s history doesn’t go beyond last week. For me, it’s about reaching back. Whether that’s playing a new tune and then playing the record it samples, or a crazy new cover version, there are all sorts of ways to take something and put it in a different context. That’s the fun of music, it’s a limitless world, and so many DJs are much too narrow in their choice of music.’
It’s a manifesto which is borne out with a look back over Scruff’s career, which has seen his name enshrined in the pantheon of modern dance’s most eclectic and adventurous spirits. A youthful fan of 2-Tone and electro, Carthy’s Stockport childhood saw crude bedroom tapedeck mixing progress to the real thing, first in Manchester’s Dry Bar in 1994 and then at Manumission. As a producer he signed to Ninja Tune in 1998, and his definitive Keep It Unreal album inspired his club of the same name.
With a variety of mix projects on the table (including the latest in his Keep It Solid Steel series for the label of the same name), Scruff keeps his hand in by touring his best-known night at home and abroad. ‘The width and the height of the stage at Cabaret Voltaire means I can’t bring Keep It Unreal’s full audio/visual show,’ he says. ‘I think this night will more resemble my Dry Bar residency in Manchester, which I actually prefer. It’s a pitch black basement with a great crowd and a mixture of my own music and the sounds which inspire me from the past five or six decades. Speakers, music, people and beers, it’s a winning combination.’