It's been nearly 20 years since the second Summer of Love's main ingredients - ecstasy and dance music - laid the groundwork
for modern club culture. While many still enjoy chemical enhancement with their beats, some - maybe older and wiser - prefer
something a little less stimulating. British DJ Andy Carthy, aka Mr Scruff, reckons the answer is tea.
"I like tea and I like drinking tea," says Carthy. "People drink tea all day, especially in Britain, but when they
go out at night they canıt get it anywhere. Not everyone wants to drink tea in a club but for some itıs an energy drink
like Red Bull."
Based in Manchester Carthy even went so far as to replace the chill out room at his club night,
Keep It Unreal, with a tea room. It even goes on tour in the United Kingdom with him.
"Itıs just a cheeky thing
to do, people donıt expect to find it in a club," says Carthy. "I quite like the general incongruous thing of having a
tea store in a night club. Also there are people who really enjoy having a cup of tea in a club. Itıs something to be
different, not to be wacky, just something that I like me being me really."
Carthy has taken his love of tea
to the extreme selling his own brand of Mr Scruff tea, Grandadıs Choice, through the Fairtrade group. Basically the organisation
allows consumers to buy directly off the organic tea farmer.
"Itıs nice to get involved in a bit of the Fairtrade business,"
says Carthy. "Iım not a big one for politics but itıs nice to do you bit and raise awareness without shoving it in peopleıs
faces. Everyone does t-shirts and I thought letıs do a few unusual bits. I like tea so that was a reason to do the tea
Itıs not just tea Mr Scruff enjoys; heıs also a vinyl addict. Picking up on skar and hip hop in the early
80ıs his collection now includes house, electro, jazz, reggae, disco, funk and Latin. Hooking up with the Ninja Tune label
in 1996 he has released two albums for the imprint. Itıs his eclectic DJ sets though, which often clock in at six hours,
where he really made his name.
"Whenever I used to play guest DJ spots it was always three hours plus," says
Carthy. "When I got offered a residency I thought, why donıt I just play for the whole night and stop hogging everyone
elseıs night. For me two hours is nothing, Iım barely getting warmed up. Playing venues for the first time it means
I can get to know the crowd and the venue and not just have done that when Iım finishing up. Itıs not the usual approach
but itıs something Iım comfortable with and have developed."
Carthy doesnıt plan any of these marathon sets. How
then did he managed to scale down to 80 minutes for his first mix-CD, Keep It Solid Steel, and still manage to make
it sound like a Mr Scruff club set?
"Itıs a lot more planned than a normal set but I made sure the flow was natural
and fitted together," says Carthy. "Ironically it took me 18 months to get a mix which I felt was natural and flowing.
Thatıs how I started DJing painstakingly putting together mixes that take a long time but sound very natural."
effort has paid off, even Madonna is a fan of the mix.
"Oh please, Iım going to pass commenting on that. It always
raises an eyebrow but Iım sick of talking about Madonna."
You havenıt been asked to play any of her parties then? "Not
that I know of but itıs not something Iıd be interested in."