RBMA graduate, producer, head honcho of the label Ruf Kutz and organiser of Manchester’s legendary Wet Play parties, Ruf Dug‘s talent and vast experience make him a welcome addition to our Diggers Directory roster. With productions that take in everything from sunny balearic , gritty detroit house and hedonistic disco, Rug Dug’s production, sets and general outlook on life are always varied. What really stands out though is that he imbues all his efforts with a playfulness and warmth.
We spoke to Ruffy about the records he cherishes most, the problems facing Manchester’s clubbing scene and his perfect place to record an album. He’s also recorded a vinyl only set straight onto tape (watch out for the change of sides half way!). He’s also taken some photo from inside the Ruf Kutz Lab.
Ruf Dug plays Gottwood Festival (8th-11th June).
DJs and producers often mention their musical education came through their family’s record collection. Was this the case for you? Can you pick out any pivotal records from your upbringing that informed your musical journey?
Wasn’t massively the case for me asmy mum & dad had about 5 tapes and that was it. I know all the words to Neil Diamond’s Jazz Singer soundtrack. And John Denver’s “Grandma’s Feather Bed”. And “The Boxer” by Simon & Garfunkel. And “Chiquitita” by Abba. The other tape was a Glen Campbell, I never got to listen to it.
People buy records for a multiple of reasons. What first drew you to collecting records and what motivates you to continue digging after all these years?
When I started collecting records it was really the only way to get hold of this music… I’ve never been against digi; I learned to mix on CDJs and I spend more money and time on Bandcamp each month, but old habits die hard.
Where do you store all your records and how do you file them?
Mostly at HQ but there are about 200 bangers with me at our temporary home in London. Filing is very basic, the sections are: Detroit, House music, Disco/Boogie, Balearic, New American, Jungle, Basic Channel, Techno, Reggae, Everything Else. Oh and then the biggest section which is the fuck off pile of records on the floor – To Be Sorted.
What are your favourite spots to go digging and why?
Teuchtler Vienna – best range, great calico bags
Lucky 7s Stoke Newington – They have no idea how much gold is in their 50p bins
Vinyl Exchange Manchester – Brilliant industrial section, killer old NY / chicago house and Russ is the knowledge master.
Digging isn’t just about the records you find, but the people who help you find them. Who are some of the colourful characters you’ve met on your travels in record stores round the world?
Steve Giardina at Profile records in Melbourne is the definition of a pusher (“u shoulda been here this morning I had 200 cool white labels but they all just got sold”). I always loved seeing JP at Vinyl Junkies (RIP). The two dudes who run Endless in Prestwich are always good for war stories from Manchester’s rock n roll days. ANYBODY working in a record shop has an interesting story; getting it out of them can be tricky sometimes.
DJs and producers often talk about a number of records that never leave their bag. Do you have any records like this?
Not quite, though Carl Craig’s ‘Angola’ remix and Bunny Mack’s ‘Let Me Love You’ are the two candidates which run closest.
Is there a record (or records), which you’ve wanted to own but cannot afford or find in print anymore?
Testpattern – Apres Midi
1st Muji BGM CD
a Lennie Hibbert record (fuck off I’m not tellin u what it is)
King Tubby Sound Clash Dub Plate Style Vol 2
Klaus Weiss Time Signals
I should just give u my discogs wantlist
Do you prefer record shopping as a solitary process, or with friends to nerd out with and search for strange sounds together? If the latter, who do you like to go digging with?
Almost always it’s solitary – best person to go on a dig with is Moonboots because he knows more than anyone else (yes he does) and he already owns much better records than you (he totally does) so he will just casually pick out mega gems for you. And then, just at some point, with seemingly zero effort, he will magically walk over to a random stack and pull out the best record in the entire shop for himself as if it wasn’t any big thing. He’s a genius.
Walking into a record shop can be quite a daunting process, with some many different genres and formats. Do you have a digging process that helps you hone in on what you’re after? Is it about patience, diligence and a bit of luck or are you more methodical when you enter a record shop?
I look for the new age / ambient section first, then the library music, then the soundtracks, then the industrial, then look for ‘in the garden’ by Eurythmics, then see if they have any Factory records, then see what their ‘world music’ section is saying, then the jungle/dnb, check out the reggae 7s if there aren’t billions of them…. by this time u should have soaked up some of the vibes of the shop and be a bit more connected with everything… at this point its time to hit the 50p bins.
How big a role does album artwork play in your digging, esp. if you’re not familiar with something you pick up?
yep massive. badly registered screen prints, absence of major label logos, 1983, beards, crap halftones, gear lists on the back that include pure synths, that really shit mimeograph typeface thats supposed to look like handwriting – these are all key signifiers.
The problems with gentrification, overinflated fees and governmental initiatives on London’s underground culture is sadly well documented. Are these problem above as prevalent in Manchester and if they are, how do you combat them?
We’re doing OK – gentrification is kind of happening but not like it is in London. Overinflated fees are what they are – there are enough big nights (and willing punters) to give the moneygrabber DJs their paydays but Manchester’s always had a very supportive and friendly grassroots scene that’s not really ‘underground’ because the parochial vibes of the city mean that everyone kind of knows everyone else. Also there are about 10,000% less turds than in London because nobody comes to Manchester to ‘make it’, they all go to London and clog up the cultural landscape there – this means that pretty much anyone at a ‘cool’ night in Manchester is there because they care about being there as opposed to caring about being seen there.
You travelled to Guadeloupe to record your album last year, and it’s dreamy ambience was a reflection of the country’s music and culture. If you had a unlimited budget to travel anywhere and record an album, where would it be?
JAPAN!!!! Never been, can’t believe I still haven’t gone. Any Japanese promoters reading please get in touch, I will come and play for u for a very nice price. Let’s talk xxxx
Finally, what are your plans for the rest of the year and beyond?
In the studio at the moment working on a few very different projects, some for Ruf Kutz and some for other outlets. I’m making a few videos for other people too off the back of the video stuff we’ve been doing lately – the TV show and Video Lounge parties. Gottwood planning is going great – I’ve got the Ruffy’s Lab stage again this year, going to keep it super intimate and hidden like last year but we are building a couple of extra bits that should be very exciting for everybody.
We’re also developing the next episode of Ruf Kutz TV on NTS which comes shortly after Gottwood, then me & Glowing Palms are doing a Ruf Kutz boat at Love International and then I’m planning to decamp to my Ibiza base for a couple of months with the family to DJ a bunch of sunsets and swimming pools and get all this dirty London air out of our systems.