Mr. Scruff Keeps It Unreal

MR. SCRUFF spinning as part of milk with FELIX and GANI at Fez Batik (129 Peter), Friday (November 23). $15.


MR. SCRUFF spinning as part of milk with FELIX and GANI at Fez Batik (129 Peter), Friday (November 23). $15 advance. 416-202-8839. Rating: NNNNN

The avant jazz recordings of blind street singers aren’t obvious sample sources for contemporary club jams, unless, of course, your handle happens to be Mr. Scruff.

With oddball joints like Get A Move On built around a clever use of Moondog’s lyrical Bird’s Lament and T-Bone Walker’s Hypin’ Woman Blues, Manchester’s Andrew Carthy has developed a reputation for delightfully eccentric productions that have found favour with advertising agencies around the world.

The quirky Get A Move On, from Mr. Scruff’s Keep It Unreal (Ninja Tune) debut, has been used in campaigns for France Telecom and Volvo, while another company in Australia evidently liked the tune enough to remake it.

Happily, the witty sense of adventure that Carthy brings to his productions and left-field remixes of tracks by Bim Sherman, Badly Drawn Boy, Bonobo, Omni Trio and Nightmares on Wax carries over to his unusually eclectic DJ sets, where it’s not uncommon for pre-war blues to segue into some Venezuelan boogaloo as a lead-in to a northern soul stomper. Clearly, there’s good reason why he was just named most creative DJ by the British dance mag IDJ, although Carthy might not be the best person to comment.

“I’ve heard about that and I’m flattered by the honour, but I have no idea why I was chosen,” confesses Carthy from his Los Angeles hotel room. “Generally, I don’t read the UK dance mags, because they’re not very good.

“Many of the big-name DJs play one narrowly defined sound all night long. It might be good music, but it’s low-risk. If it’s house, it’s all in a 4/4 beat that people will dance to, but it’s a safe bet, isn’t it?

“But I guess that’s good for me, because I tend to stand out just by doing my own thing.”

For Carthy, doing his own thing on the decks usually requires a minimum of five hours. If you go to Mr. Scruff’s night at Fez Batik Friday (November 23), be prepared to stay the evening.

“Sometimes if I’m just playing a guest spot I might do a shorter set, but five hours is about right, because it takes me a while to get up to speed.

“I might start off with some slow, sublime blues and jazz ballads. Once I’ve played some of my favourite tunes, then I’m in the mood to do the business. I enjoy the warm-up, teasing people onto the dance floor, then flicking the switch and taking it up to peak levels with some very soulful, spine-tingling music.

“While it’s important to remember that people are in the clubs to drink, fall down and hear some good music, I think it’s possible to maintain a party vibe and still spring some surprises. At the end of the night, that’s what people remember, like, ‘Did you hear that crazy tune that went ?’ The risks are always the biggest kick.”

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