2014 IDA World Technical Champion
2013 DMC World Supremacy Champion
Interview & foto: Zeefoto
HELLO RUFTONE, WE GO WAY BACK, A BUCH OF WACK HIPHOP KIDS IN THE AULD REEKIE, WHAT ARE YOUR MEMORIES OF THAT TIME?
Ha, aye I remember going to a graffiti thing at Livi, behind the skatepark, I remember seeing all the b-boys there…Archie one of the best then, now one of the Cuban Brothers. I remember they were doing amazing stuff, spinning on their heads and stuff. I didn’t know much about b-boys back then, just from the lads at ‘Seen’, ha, that was you! and Sandy and all that. I just forget a lot…ahh Wallace and Aljo from Stirling. My daughter actually goes to the streetdance thing he teaches now, she just got photos done, ha!
SO WHAT MADE YOU START SPINNING?
Well basically I got my first set of decks when I was 17, not Technics or anything just a ‘mobile’ dj set up, just as I left school. So I was getting into dance music, rave music. The guy I had a job with, my first job. This electronic place down Leith, he dj’d as well and had Technic decks so I used to go to his house all the time. He’s the guy I started doing the pirate radio with, Tim. So I turned 18 then got my Technics.
DECKS WERE CRAZY PRICES BACK THEN, HOW DID YOU AFFORD THEM?
Ha…my mom. She went out and bought them then I paid her up. It was about £800.00 that was pretty crazy back then, 89/90. I got them because of the first actual records I bought were stuff on Warp records, all ravey and dancy, LFO and that, I just got really into the mixing side of things and then we started doing the radio I got into drum and bass. Then dance music split into all the genres. Before it was just ‘electronic’ music then it was all ‘house, ‘techno, drum n bass’. I got right into the drum and bass stuff and through the radio I met Craig Smith and Eh One, I was checking out what they were doing on the decks, that’s what got me into the scratching.
SO YOU WERE DOING PIRATE RADIO BEFORE YOU HAD A PAID DJ GIG?
Yeah totally! I was doing the radio for ages before I got a gig ha, without a doubt.
YOU SPENT YEARS DOING THE RADIO STUFF, WHAT SORT OF SETS WERE YOU PLAYING?
The guy I worked with was all about the radio and I was really lucky. I went up to his house and they were broadcasting from there and he was like ‘go ahead, do a set’, so I did about an hours set and after he said that it had gone out live on the radio and would I like to come back next weekend and do a full set? I was like…yeah! It didn’t really sink in, we were driving home listening to the radio I was like ‘that’s from that flat we were just in!’ So I just started doing that weekly, Boomerang 100fm, 1989-90 it must have been. It ran for about 6 years every weekend, sometimes all week. It was luck that I met those dudes, it was really good for learning to dj because your under that same pressure, broadcasting live and you don’t want your mix to be shit. It’s almost like a club gig, I was only 17 so I couldn’t even go to a club, ha. Good practice.
WHEN DID YOUR FIRST PAID DJ GIG COME ABOUT?
You know, I think it was Carlton studios, aye. Just again through a
guy at work who knew someone at Carlton studios and they got me down on a mid-week night, rave and dance music.
Then I did a couple of Saturday nights at Club Solution I think with the ‘Waxman’. Then ‘Paradox’ club on a Friday, they were the first gigs, I was well into the rave music at the time but I was also chilling out to 3ft High and Rising, the Jungle Brothers and Public Enemy, I had that on cd at home but I didn’t get the connection of that music and record and scratching until way later on.
WAS IT THE ‘SEEN’ CLUB AND THE SCRATCH ERA THAT GOT YOU INTO HIPHOP?
It was initially meeting Eh One on the radio with Craig Smith and Under the Influence, Gary Morton, Pat. Meeting all of them got me into the turntabilism thing. Also when Underground Solution record store opened I got a job originally ordering all the drum and bass but within a year it was more hip-hop. I’d kinda had it with drum and bass and with hip-hop I felt I could get more out of the record, better value. Working in the shop I was getting all these scratch records and DJ tools for the first time so I got influenced by those sorts of things.
WHAT ABOUT HOOKING UP WITH THE ‘SCRATCH’ CLUB?
There was Tribal Funktion before that with Frosty and Lyly. Then Lyly with his cousin did a Scratch up here at Café Graffiti, one of the first ones, I’d already done ‘Seen’ a few times so Lyly gave me shout to come down. From then on I just kept doing the Scratch nights with loads of others. Lyly’s cousin did a huge Scratch night down in London so we had access to guests that we just wouldn’t have got.
ANY FAVOURITE GIGS OR PEOPLE YOU HAVE PLAYED WITH?
Oh yeah. Loads of good nights, the Arsonists were cool, Souls of Mischief, All Natural, Taskforce were always dope, Jest and loads of cool DJ’s, we had Craze, Anthrax, Develop, Noize ha that was the first battle I won, 1997 Northern Mixing Championships at Wilkie house with DJ Noize and Supernatural performing, Noize was judging as well, Plus one and Extra were in that, I beat them in the final but to tell the truth they fucked right up and that’s why I won.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST DECIDE TO ENTER THE DMC CHAMPIONSHIPS?
We did a DMC heat at scratch in Edinburgh in 1999, so I entered. I loved the whole dj battle thing. I didn’t even get top 3. Plus one won that, then in May 2000 I entered again, Plus one won that as well. I actually entered every year from 2000 till 2005 and the top 2 used to make to the final so I made it to the UK final for 6 years. I won the Scottish heats after that, 2001 onwards.
DO YOU THINK YOU WERE READY FOR THE COMPETITION?
Nah, totally not. But your never ready, you’ve gotta go through the first time to make the mistakes and realise and be prepared for the next time. I always hear people say ‘oh yeah, I’m gonna train real hard then come first time and smash it’ I don’t think that ever actually happens, your first time is like a learning curve so the more you do it the better you get. Sometimes you hear people say that you should’ve won it but it’s up to the 5-6 judges that are there. Usually at least at the bigger finals, all the judges are definitely qualified to judge and include previous champions.
HOW DO YOU EVEN START TO COME UP WITH A FULL COMPETITION DJ SET?
Well it’s changed over the years, like when I used to do it back then, 1999-2000 it was just the records I had and loved and I was up to me to come up with the beat juggles or scratch records that had good samples on them that I hadn’t heard anyone use before. So back then it was about digging and finding good songs, making good patterns but nowadays it’s really changed. At the DMC for example you can use Sir Rattle, Traktor, which are control vinyl’s for dj’s
and mp3’s, the advantage is you make your own mp3’s of course, instead of having to press up your own vinyl, nowadays you can customize and build your own set. It’s not even so much of a dj competition these days, it’s not 2 different dj’s at each other with records and see who’s the best, its now all about pre-production, what you have done in advance. It sucks for a lot of traditionalists but I suppose nothing is like it was 10 years ago so why should dj’s be any different. But saying all that, the ‘Battle for Supremacy’, which I just won, you have to use vinyl and after all that, I did use vinyl that I had pressed myself with stuff I’d made at home.
YOU HAVE BEEN A FINALIST FOR SEVERAL YEARS, HAVE YOU LEARNT ANYTHING OVER THAT TIME?
All the times I did it, from 2000 to 2005 I never actually won the UK final. I felt like I needed to take some time out and learn more stuff and practice my craft, then I came back in 2011, so I had 5 years away from it, I came back because they had launched it online and also you could use Sir Rattle and other things so it wasn’t just about the records anymore. That inspired me to get back into it, when they switched up the format a bit and started the online thing. It gave loads of countries that don’t have a DMC rep the chance to see and enter it, it opened it up to the whole world. In 2011 I came 2nd, I got beat by dj uncut, my favourite dj…still! I was pretty happy, second in the world on my comeback.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE WINNING YOUR FIRST UK DMC TITLE?
Ok, I won it in 2002, the battle, in 2012 I won my first UK 6 minute and the Battle and then again in 2013. It was totally amazing, a dream come true. Basically I’d been grinding away at it so long still practising in my room, trying to learn scratches, new styles and stuff, so it was a dream come true. The annoying thing is you don’t really get time to enjoy it, because as soon as you win it then you have the stress of ‘oh no, I’m in the world final’ in your head.
SO YOU HAVE JUST WON THE 2013 DMC BATTLE SUPREMACY CHAMPIONSHIPS?
Aye, there’s a six-minute battle, the Supremacy and the teams. Obviously I can’t enter the teams but I was in the others. I won the Supremacy, which i’m happy with. It’s more a one on one competition, like a vs. battle. You gotta play yer hand ya know, you don’t want to come out with your super strong stuff to early but at the same time you don’t wanna get knocked out. After doing it for 3 years the experience has helped. Now I won’t decide what I’m doing until that other dj has finished, what can I do to counter that….memory muscle is the main one.
ARE YOU GONNA KEEP AT IT AND DEFEND YOUR TITLES?
I don’t know, I’m really undecided. As it stands I don’t have any new material for next year. I’ve got the IDA competi- tion in December this year, which is kinda the same as DMC, see what happens there. Then in Jan start thinking about the worlds. I’ve got the opportunity to defend both titles, which nobody has done before. I’m definitely the oldest champion, haha, winning the UK double then doing it again. I’ve had more seconds and thirds than anyone in DMC. It’s on a platter for next year and I wanna defend both titles. It takes up a lot of time tho,,,,
YOUR DARTH VADER SET WAS INSPIRA- TIONAL, HOW MUCH EFFORT DID THAT TAKE?
The hardest part was all the pre-production of the song and editing the music so it was easier and possible on the turntables. Then editing it hard, just getting it right, I go one beat a time and once I get an end product I go back and tweak again. It’s a huge work in progress. I just knew I wanted to a gimmicky thing at the DMC 2012. Once I’d made it, I took it to one of these green screen things, stuck a mask on and just got a few takes like that. Then graphics were done after. Every second you see in these final edits have taken hours if not days to produce, I make it all, sample it, chop it, move it, re-edit it.
YOU WEREN’T THAT WELL FOR A WHILE THERE BRO, WANNA TELL US ABOUT THAT?
Totally mate. I had a pain in my side that got really sore, so I got my ass down to the hospital and they did they X-ray and scans. They said they thought it was a tumour and I had to in for an operation, that was quite scary. I got worried but went through with it and had the operation and then found out it was a cist and not a tumour which is better they said. So I got it removed and I’m fine now. A lot of people don’t know but that Darth Vader set was done like a month and a half after my operation, semi painful, and my scar was still pretty fresh. I think the scare gave me the extra push to go for it.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR HOOK UP WITH VESTAX?
I know Mike trix, he worked at DMC years ago, now the UK vestax rep. so they hook me up with decks and mixers. I do some trade shows and stuff. A lot of these companies want you to show their products off, see what levels it can be taken to. I’ve got some videos coming up with vestax, hopefully I can get a bit more of that kinda thing.
YOU’RE A DADDY NOW, HOWS THAT GOING?
Amazing, Elle, nearly 4 now. The best thing ever, I’m well happy. I recommend it to everyone.
OK WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
The IDA in December really and it will depend on what happens there really. I’ve got the DMC opportunity obviously, to defend the Supremacy. I wanna do some more dj gigs make some buks and make life as comfortable for my daughter. I’m gonna put some more out online on Soundcloud and the likes, do some dj edits for other dj’s. Scratching online every night for the webcam. Just loving scratching, the art form, just being in and building the scene.
ANY LAST WORDS FOR THE SCOTTISH HEADS?
Love to everyone, I hardly see anyone these days so catch me online. Love to all the skaters, all the bboys, all the beatboxers I love it all. I’m gonna be down at the bongo club at New Year so come down and noise me up. Massive thanks to the DOPEZINE, The Capitals finest by far.
Support your local….peace.