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Mr. Scruff is the recording name of Andy Carthy (born 10 February 1972), a British electronic music producer and DJ. He lives in Stretford, Greater Manchester and studied fine art at the Psalter Lane campus of Sheffield Hallam University. Before he could make a living from his music alone, he worked as a shelf-stacker in the Hazel Grove branch of Kwik Save.
His stage name was inspired by his scruffy facial hair as well as his trademark loose-lined drawing style. He has been DJing since 1994, at first in and around Manchester then nationwide. He is known for DJing in marathon sets (often exceeding six hours), his eclectic musical taste, his love of a "nice cup of tea", and the quirky home-produced visuals and animations associated with his music. In an interview he said: "It's about putting a lot of effort in and paying attention to detail. I get annoyed if I don't take risks. I'm very hard on myself."
In his twenties, Mr. Scruff's first 12", "Hocus Pocus" was released on the small Manchester-based label Robs Records. Subsequent singles and his first album, Mr. Scruff followed, released on Robs Records subsidiary, Pleasure Music. After a brief spell working with Mark Rae, he moved to the larger Ninja Tune label, and subsequently released the albums Keep It Unreal and Trouser Jazz.
His most notable hit, "Get a Move On", is built around "Bird's Lament (In Memory of Charlie Parker)" by Moondog. and has been used in several commercials ranging from Lincoln and Volvo automobiles to France Télécom and GEICO insurance. The song also samples Shifty Henry's "Hyping Woman Blues" and led to a renewal of interest in Henry's compositions.
In 2004, Mr. Scruff released Keep It Solid Steel Volume 1, the first of what is intended to be a series of several DJ-mixed compilation CDs for Ninja Tune's Solid Steel series of artist mixes. These mixes are designed to recreate the eclectic genres one would expect to hear at a Mr. Scruff club night. In November 2006, Ninja Tune confirmed that the 8th Solid Steel record would be mixed by J Rocc and the 9th would be Volume 2 from Mr. Scruff. Other Solid Steel mixes have been released by fellow Ninja Tune artists including The Herbaliser, Hexstatic, DJ Food and Amon Tobin.
He has a wide array of remixes to his name, and has also produced tracks for others – notably "Echo of Quiet and Green" for sometime-collaborator Niko for her 2004 album Life on Earth. Niko returned the favour, appearing on the track "Come Alive" from the Trouser Jazz album.
Having performed regularly at The Big Chill Festival in Eastnor Castle deer park, Ledbury, Herefordshire, he was asked in 2006 to select the tracks for the compilation album, Big Chill Classics.
July 2008 saw the release of Southport Weekender Volume 7, a double album released in the Southport Weekender series, recorded in a purpose-built holiday village in Southport, Merseyside. The first disc was mixed by German nu jazz DJs Jazzanova, and the second was mixed by Mr. Scruff. Scruff's contribution is a mix of soul music.
In 2008, a new independent record label, Ninja Tuna, was founded, a collaboration between Scruff and the Ninja Tune label. Mr. Scruff's most recent singles and the album Ninja Tuna were all released on the new label.
A US-only release of the album on mp3 came with 10 additional tracks from the Ninja Tuna recording sessions, under the title Bonus Bait. A CD version of this supplementary album was released in the UK in February 2009.
Mr. Scruff is currently working on his fifth studio album, Friendly Bacteria. It is scheduled to be released on 19 May 2014 by Ninja Tuna.
Mr. Scruff's album and single cover art, music videos, merchandise and his official website are noted for their whimsical cartoonish look; the cartoons are drawn by Scruff himself, in what he calls "potato style". The images and animations are also projected onto large screens during his gigs. Scruff also drew cartoons for music magazines such as Jockey Slut in the 1990s.
Mr. Scruff began selling tea from a small room at the Manchester club, the Music Box, where he was resident DJ in around 2000, with the proceeds going to charity. When he started touring, Scruff took the enterprise with him and gained a reputation for being the DJ with the teashop. When appearing at festivals, such as Big Chill and WOMAD, tea stalls or tents were erected, and were open for the duration of the festivals. Scruff subsequently started an online tea company, Make Us a Brew, and produces his own range of fair trade teabags. Both his official website, and the Make Us a Brew site also sell branded tea-related paraphernalia including teapots, mugs and tea-towels. The teabags are sold in department store chains Selfridges, Waitrose and Booths.
He is the joint owner, with his manager Gary McClarnan, of Teacup Kitchen, located in Thomas Street, near Manchester Cathedral.
Most of Mr. Scruff's studio albums contain tracks about fish, whales and other sea-life, which cut up recordings of voiceovers from children's stories and nature documentaries to create surreal and silly stories. They began with the track "Sea Mammal" (featuring a sample from Boogie Down Productions' track "Part Time Sucker"), released on the Hocus Pocus single (1995). It is also the opening track on Scruff's first album. This was followed by "Wail" (as a homophone for "Whale"), also on his first album. Keep It Unreal (1999) featured the tracks "Shanty Town" and "Fish", the latter of which features samples from the likes of David Attenborough and David Bellamy. The album Trouser Jazz (2002) closes with another cut-up track, "Ahoy There!", noted as featuring an appearance from "Albert Ross" (albatross).
Scruff has stated that he is unlikely to record any further fish-based cut-up tracks. However, marine references continue in Scruff's work including the track "Shrimp" from Trouser Jazz, and the title and cover art of his most recent albums, Ninja Tuna (2008) and its companion release, Bonus Bait (2009).
Mr. Scruff and Treva Whateva (his Ninja Tune label-mate and friend from Stockport) recorded a weekly hour-long radio show, some episodes of which can still be found on samurai.fm.