Interview: Mr Scruff

Sticking with tradition, influential Mancunian tune-maker and seasoned tea-masher Mr Scruff will open the Tramlines party with a set at The Leadmill. Jack Spivey found out what we can expect this year.

You’ve been around on the scene for a while now. What sort of changes have you noticed at your shows and amongst the crowds you’re playing to?
I can’t say it’s really something that I’ve picked up on. For as long as I’ve been DJing, people have always been looking for an excuse to go out, have a drink and have a good time! I’ve been lucky enough to always bring in a mixed crowd, usually anyone from 18 to people in their mid-60s, but this keeps it fun for me.

So it’s The Leadmill once again for the launch party! It’s becoming something of a tradition now for you to kick off proceedings there.
I’ve played it for the last few years and I’ve never had any issue! I tend to not play in your standard ‘nightclub’ so much; live venues work so much better for me. The tech requirements are met to a much higher standard this way, and I can put on the best set possible. It’s especially useful for me with the visuals that I put on as live venues generally have a lot more space for me to get set up.

And you’ve always been very hands-on in the way your promote your work, hand-drawing your own visuals and encouraging a mixed crowd to attend.
I think a lot of the time, particularly in heavily student populated cities, promoters treat punters like they’re a bit stupid. It’s almost like ‘the drinks are cheap and we’ll play the same stuff as they’re playing down the road’ – but to me that’s not what it’s about. I get that there are financial pressures for the venues and the promoters, but it should be about more than this. I think it’s important to get a mixed crowd. Sometimes I get families coming down to see me, and this is something that I always enjoy. Plus this way the night sort of self-regulates, and the whole vibe is better and more relaxed, people enjoy themselves more and there’s no trouble!

You like to keep your sets spontaneous and often throw in new material. Do you feel like it’s a risky way to approach things?
I don’t think you need to be comfortable with something in order to enjoy it. A night out should be like anything else. Take an art gallery for example, you’re going to come across things that you’ve never seen before, but this doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate it. If I have a rough idea of what is being well-received by the crowd then I’m able to branch out a little bit and play around. It keeps things exciting for everyone!

Finally, what should we be expecting from the launch party set?
Every night is different; it’s all based on what’s going down well at the time. Basically, it’s not safe to expect anything!

Mr Scruff will be on at The Leadmill at 10pm with MC Kwasi for a 5 hour set. Guaranteed entry tickets have now all been allocated, however there will be a limited number on the door for free – make sure you get down early!

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