EXCURSIONS 004: RUF DUG
Friday, October 23rd, 2020
Manchester→ Sydney→ Manchester
Words: Bad Lieutenant
Video game soundtracks. Iberian windswept balearica. Street soul. Ambient soundscapes. Afro edits. Modern synth music. Hard bangers. No genre or style seems out of range for the Manchester based producer, dj and RUF KUTZ record label owner known as Ruf Dug, who has made a name for himself over the past 20 years as one of the most talented and irreverent people in underground dance music.
A Manchester native, Ruf Dug grew up studying and making music when other cats in his school were hitting the pitch. Perhaps it was his early experiences in walkman headphones listening to everything from movie soundtracks to Giorgio Moroder that would inspire his anything goes mantra and tape-deck aesthetic. Playing the flute in bands in Manchester, while listening to house music and jazz on the side, Ruf Dug knew he loved music but didn’t know what direction it would take him. Eventually he would holiday in Australia around the year 2000. What was intended to be a short vacation morphed into an 8 year stay.
Seeking out illegal raves and warehouse parties, Ruffy found himself immersed in Sydney’s underground scene, surrounded by other like-minded creatives from the film and music industry. It was here Ruf Dug would start his dj career. It took off quickly.
Fast forward some years and Ruffy would return to Manchester. Success came in the form of gigs around the globe, a monthly NTS radio show, a coveted Pikes Ibiza residency in the summer, a label headship, and countless productions for his own label and others. But success hasn’t made Ruffy complacent. Maintaining his workmanlike roots, Ruffy continues to be one of the most prodigious and innovative underground producers around. He is known to never say no to a gig, and to do his job with a smile on his face and a crass joke to follow. I was lucky enough to play “alongside” Ruffy in a virtual 10 year anniversary party this summer for Boston record label Cultures of Soul. Breaking out his collection of UK street soul with a self-designed virtual backdrop, Ruffy’s set did not disappoint.
Adapting to life under Covid, he’s hosted live production sessions called “Ruffy Makes a Tune” on his twitch channel which are now available on bandcamp. Maintaining a lo-fi aesthetic and never taking himself too seriously, Ruffy continues to release music at an alarming rate. He has no plans of slowing down. Never too busy for his fans, Ruffy passed on an hour mix of ambient delights from a recent live set at Freight Island in Manchester before answering some questions about his productions, dj’ing, and maintaining a Covid cool.
Where and how was this mix recorded?
It was recorded on a Saturday morning at 10am at Freight Island in Manchester, one of the very few places you can still DJ to people.
Is there a specific idea behind this mix?
Music for brunch! Bacon sandwich vibes.
Where in the world would be the best place to listen to this mix why?
Somewhere cosy - this is music for starting your day, for emerging from the fog.
Are there any standout tracks for you?
Yeah 'Winsome - Untitled 002 A1' - my favourite tune of the last 12 months.
Can you tell us a little bit about UK Streetsoul (for the uninitiated)?
DIY soul music made in the UK in the early 90s by independent producers/musicians with very little resources. Comparable with a lot of the US indie soul that emerges on labels like Cultures of Soul & PPU, it's got a particularly UK angle on it because it's also influenced heavily by reggae and sound system culture so u got these sort of cool lo-fi soul tracks with mad 90s synths but then they also have these stupid enormous sound system basslines. Soul II Soul and Massive Attack are two very famous examples of how this sound developed and crossed into the mainstream back then.
How has being from Manchester informed your style?
Completely. I'm entirely a product of this place. I wouldn't want to be from anywhere else.
You’ve been on a production tare during Covid with some amazing ambient releases and many others. Have you welcomed the opportunity to focus solely on productions? Or do you miss the balance of playing parties and clubs?
It has been great to spend so much time in the studio and even better to spend so much time at home with my family - these are genuine blessings. They've come at a huge cost though, and these days I actually go to the nightclub in Grand Theft Auto to hang out and dance for a bit, that's how fuckin bad I miss it. Even if Solomun is playing.
What’s next for Ruf Kutz?
Plenty more bandcamp releases, and I'm starting to plan a special livestream event with a bunch of the label artists for some time over xmas.
If a miracle happens and a vaccine develops that allows clubbing to start back up by summer of 2021 what would your ideal party look like?
A message for your fans?
Thanks for listening! I love u all xxxxx