Day in the Life: Andy Carthy aka Mr Scruff, DJ, producer and cartoonist

'I also have my own tea company. I like a good brew'


If we're playing a gig more than four hours' drive away, we'll set off the previous evening rather than getting up at ridiculous o' clock in the morning, because otherwise you just end up feeling really tired by the time the gig starts. That means we'll arrive at the venue somewhere between 6am and 8am, and then sleep in until about 11am so we're waking up at a time that fits in with the clubbing clock – a different version of nine-to-five!

Once we're up, the first thing we'll do is go into the venue. We have a breakfast rider, so we all pile into the dressing room and have a cup of tea and some breakfast. Over the years we've refined that rider so that when we get up there is stuff that everybody wants to eat and we're not faffing around.


This in when we load all the stuff from the tour bus into the venue. I pretty much bring all my DJ kit so it's a lot of stuff: all the records, DJ equipment, screens, projectors, banners, drapes, merchandise and tea shop stuff. It's a good hour's work just to get everything in. Then we'll start setting everything up: the venue gets bannered, we set up the DJ and record tables, put the screens up and generally assemble stuff for a couple of hours.

I design all the flyers for my gigs. It's not normally something I do on tour, but if it's last-minute I have my scanner with me on the tour bus, so if we need to do any bespoke visuals for the evening I can scan it in and get it animated. I have my own tea company, though my partner in the company, Elise, sorts the business side out. I get to do all the interesting stuff, like drinking loads of tea and doing cartoons! It's nice to do something that I'm not an expert in – I'm not the Jilly Goolden of tea, I just enjoy a good brew.


Depending on whether we encounter any problems with the in-house sound system, the soundcheck will probably take about an hour. However, we might discover that some speakers are out of phase or maybe a couple of cones have blown; it's surprising how badly the sound is set-up at some venues.

After that I'll have a shower and relax for a bit. Then there might be a couple of interviews; if not I'll just go through my records and have a little play around really – there might be a few records I've not heard properly, or I'll have an idea for a mix that I want to perfect for the evening.


We always allow three hours before doors for food. It's good to have some proper time off because of the long night ahead.

Wherever we may be we'll try to get along some friends who live locally, so we can chat and catch up. Afterwards we'll go for our ritual coffee – a proper espresso – to snap us out of relax mode and put a full stop after the meal.


We trundle back to the venue and either potter or do some last-minute tidying up. What I like about travelling around is getting involved with a venue, rather than turning up and just playing for a couple of hours. I find it easier to DJ more individually at each event if I'm playing for the whole night.

The doors are generally at 10pm so straight away I'll start DJing and do that for the next five or six hours. For the first hour no one's dancing: people are coming in and chatting, so it's nice to set the scene and people-watch, get your head around the venue. The music I'll play is just dead mellow, a case of introducing myself and playing some tunes I like while people are getting rid of their day's stress and getting ready for a night out.


From midnight it goes up and down and all over the place for the rest of the evening. Once you have that collective energy in the room there's a natural increase in pace and excitement. It's great fun, the buzz of sharing your favourite records with people on a great sound system.

Say you play a tune by Fela Kuti, it will naturally build over the course of 15 minutes, doing the same thing that I could do subtly with three or four tracks. It also gives me the chance to go to the toilet or go out and have a chat with someone for a few minutes, step back and enjoy the atmosphere. That's the closest I get to having my regulation DJ union break!


For the last hour people are properly going mad, so rather than mixing and doing things very smoothly I can do individual tunes, little bombs that really go off. I can just play a tune and leave a gap; people make a bit of noise then I put another one on. Once we get to the curfew I'll play another couple of songs if I can get away with it, which is always nice. Then, because I've been on a stage separated from the audience, I go round the front and have a natter with people until the bouncers get a bit agitated. It's always good to see the regulars and it means I can avoid the first half hour of packing up!


It takes about an hour to get everything packed up and back on the bus, then we'll head straight off to the next gig. We all have a beer and a bit of food on the bus and do the night's tour report, which means making a note of anything we can improve for next time. Perhaps the stage was a bit wobbly, the lighting was a bit harsh or the air-con wasn't quite right, so we'll make sure it's sorted for next time. After that we can relax and go to bed!

Mr Scruff is on tour. The album 'Ninja Tuna' is out now on Ninja Tune, with 'Bonus Bait', an American-released double-sided album, available for download on 15 February. To download, visit, where you can also buy Mr Scruff merchandise – and tea

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman
Top Gear presenter James May appears to be struggling with his new-found free time
Arts and Entertainment
Kendrick Lamar at the Made in America Festival in Los Angeles last summer
Arts and Entertainment
'Marley & Me' with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Hamm (right) and John Slattery in the final series of Mad Men
Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor