Mr. Scruff interview: “I began hunting for music obsessively”

Ahead of some upcoming performances, we had a chat with veteran Manchester DJ Mr Scruff about music, his inspirations, how Manchester helped shape him as an artist and more.

Skiddle Staff

Date published: 27th Oct 2022

If you think you own a huge collection, you’ve got nothing on Mr. Scruff. This veteran DJ has been using his colossal vinyl collection spanning countless genres to ignite passion in eager, music-loving crowds for over 25 years now. A creative, music-avid machine, Mr. Scruff’s sets often keep dancefloors busy for over six hours. 

Over the years, Scruff has penned cracking (too soon to say timeless?) tracks over the years, including Get A Move On!, Midnight Feast, Be The Music, Kalimba, Sweetsmoke, Feel Free, and many others. Spanning from groovy nu-jazz, electro-funk, and tunes that blend elements of hip-hop, soul, trip-hop, breakbeat, house, and beyond, there's something in his music for everyone. 

While he experiments with his sound, one thing’s for certain - it’s difficult to listen to his tracks and not bob along to the dreamy, otherworldly, but consistently groovy sound.

We had a chat with the selector about where he finds music, how Manchester helped shape him as an artist, his influences, and more ahead of his upcoming performances at Manchester’s Band On The WalBirmingham’s Hare And Hound, and FORGE in Sheffield. Check it out!


What inspired you to pursue a career in music? And what made you decide to become a DJ? 

"I started as a bedroom DJ in 1984, inspired by the Street Sounds Electro compilations (mixed LPs of the latest Electro releases) and was happy for it to be a hobby/obsession, with no ambitions to do gigs etc. 

I sold a few copies of a hip hop mix tape in Dave Ruf’s Funky Banana Records in 1992. And then I met Barney Doodlebug in 1994, gave him some mix tapes & crude demos, and before I knew it, I had a record deal and numerous local bar gigs in places like Atlas, Joshua Brooks etc. By 1996 I was DJing & producing full-time."




You spin a wide variety of tunes at your sets - house, disco, jazz, trip-hop, world music - where do you find all this music? 

"I love so many styles of music! I started out by bargain hunting in the 1980s... ex-jukebox 7:”s from market stalls, vinyl from charity shops, second-hand stores. I used to listen to a lot of specialist radio, and once I got an idea of what was out there musically, I began hunting for it obsessively. Once I started to tour a lot, I would scour the local second-hand stores to find records that were popular in those areas. Then I started to meet a lot of record dealers, who would each have their own speciality. 

For new releases, I go to several different stores to cover as much musical ground as possible. A lot of online searching/digging too, for both vinyl and digital - Discogs, eBay, Bandcamp etc, etc. 

Once you get the bug, you follow your nose and sniff out the music. I connect with a lot of fellow obsessives while I look for music and we have long conversations about the music, history, context etc, and recommend/exchange vinyl. 

I also learn about tunes from people who attend my gigs as I tend to attract like-minded souls. I might have been doing this for a long time, but my knowledge is nothing compared to the combined knowledge of a dance floor full of people. I love that."



It's clear you have a deep love for music. What would you say it does for you? What’s unique about it?

"I love the connections, the history, the human element. It is inspiring and never-ending, with so many possibilities. Every great song is unique and tells the story of the people who made it. Being able to share such amazing music with an appreciative and passionate crowd is a real honour."




Photo: Gilles Peterson's Worldwide Festival / 


Manchester is a known music hub. Do you think being from around the area influenced your artistic development and sound? If so, how? 

"Manchester has massively influenced me, mostly through radio in the early days, as it reflected the tastes of local scenes and communities before I was old enough to get involved. 

Once I did start getting involved, the people who welcomed and helped me in the early 1990s had a profound effect by including me in the prevailing culture, welcoming me, and encouraging me to do my thing. What I experienced was an introduction to the musical underbelly by people who were young and innovative but also knowledgeable about the history and roots of what came before. 

Manchester is big enough to have loads going on all the time and small enough for everyone to know each other, which helps to encourage collaboration and connection between different scenes and styles."



Can you set the scene for the moment where you felt like, “yeah, this is it, I’ve made it.”? Where were you, what was going on? 

"For me, the major point was when I left my supermarket job at Kwik Save in 1996 to do music full-time. Although I had been a bedroom DJ since 1984, I had only been doing regular gigs since 1994, so it all happened relatively quickly. Other than that, I have just got my head down, kept my ears open and done the best I can. 25+ years later, I am still really enjoying it!"



Do you have any non-musical influences like books, movies, or sea creatures, maybe? 

"I read a lot of books, although most of them are music-related. Lots of social/cultural history books, too. And studio equipment manuals. Zzzzz. Mostly, life in general. Interactions, people, conversations, creativity, learning, discoveries."




How would you describe the atmosphere at your performances? 

"Relaxed, joyful, easy-going. Proper lovely friendly crowd who are into all kinds of music. I love the way it builds from mellow to full-on through the night."



Finally, what can you tell us about your upcoming performance at Manchester’s Band On The Wall this November? Any surprises? 

"I will be joined by fellow Worldwide FM DJ Coco Maria. She will be bringing her delightful tropical music styles from Mexico via Amsterdam to BOTW. Musically, it could go anywhere and everywhere, which is the most enjoyable aspect for me."




If you fancy getting down and dancing to Mr Scruff’s eclectic, vibrant sounds, secure your tickets for his upcoming performances this November. He'll be bringing good times and belting tunes to Manchester, Birmingham, and Sheffield. Secure your tickets at the bottom of this page. Or click here to see all upcoming shows

Trust us when we say you’ll have an unreal time.  



Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.








Header image credit: Gilles Peterson's Worldwide Festival /


La Rumba: Mr. Scruff, Dan Shake, Coco Maria, Apricot Ballroom | FORGE, Sheffield | Friday 4th November 2022

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Keep It Unreal: Mr. Scruff + Coco Maria + MC Kwasi | Band On The Wall, Manchester | Saturday 5th November 2022

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H&H 15th Anniversary w/ Mr. Scruff | Hare And Hound in Birmingham | Sunday 6th November 2022

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