TF Archives

Mr Scruff - Way Of The Scruffy Ninja

Author: Rezo
Monday, December 1, 2008

Blighty’s Mr Scruff is back melding every style under the sun with his latest, and best LP Ninja Tuna. 3D’s Rezo talked to the diverse music-maker who continues to go from strength to strength.

An affable Brit with a down to earth demeanour, Andy Carthy, AKA Mr Scruff, just wants to talk about music. “There were a couple of things I was into – I was into art for example; I never studied music and mainly got stuck into in when I got home from school,” he reflects upon his early preoccupations. “It was the radio that got me started on it during the 1980s. I got out the hi-fi and broke all the buttons on the tape deck! Then once I got my head around it, I bought some decks and a mixer - and like so many people who grew up then I got into mixing everything from Latin to disco – those 10 and 20 minute mixes of 10 and 20 tunes; that’s how I got into it. Then I got some drum machines and keyboards and here we are.”

Indeed, Andy is flying high on the back of the release of his fourth album Ninja Tuna. His self-proclaimed finest work to date features cameo appearances from his favourite musicians, and a philosophy based around fun. “I try not to think too much about the music. I like having a wide range of influences and am always combining them; if you try for that, it works. I feel that if you have too much of an idea of what you’re doing, your aim for a narrow target. I get an idea and think about a good piece of percussion or a nice drum loop and see where it takes me. Then a song can take on its own direction and by then, you’ve found that the sounds are doing their own thing. With this album, I just wanted to cover a wide range of moods and tempos and make it cohesive at the same time.”

Everything from jazz and soul to thunder-clapping bass appear on the album, which pleasingly avoids following a specific formula. “I think when you work with different people you end up with a lot of different ideas, obviously. It’s a far cry from paying a rapper to do a verse. You’re actually friends with the people you work with and have some fun creating something special,” Carthy offers. “Then it ends up sounding like you know what you’re doing. It might be wonky in bits but it can come together.  That’s what I’ve aimed for and hopefully achieved.”

And like the trio of album successes that came before it, Scruff sees this work as yet another evolution of his output. “If you stand them side by side, you can see where you move from one to another. There are deeper explorations between the albums because every time you try a tune, you think ‘I could have done that differently’ – so you have to rein that in.  If you don’t do it successfully, it will sound like a mess, which in turn sparks off other ideas and you begin to have random connections in your head that end up getting resolved on the next album. I just like to explore individual themes and on the next album you take that a bit further.”

WHO: Mr Scruff
WHAT: Ninja Tuna through Ninja Tunes / Playing the Great Northern Hotel, Byron Bay / Days Like This
WHEN: Out now / Saturday 3 January / Sunday 4 January