No-one throws a dj party like Scratchy. The renown dj who toured with the legendary Clash, Scratchy still has his finger on the rockin’ dance pulse, bringing together an irresistible blend of rock’n’roll, reggae and roma, a true mestizo mix of the greatest music on the planet, from and for all times.
At a time when everyone claims to be a dj, Scratchy stands out as a genuine, independent and free-thinking phenomenon.
It was a consciousness and love of rockin’n’rollin roots music, a formidable reputation from his ongoing club and concert work at major venues and events in London, from Dingwalls to the Roundhouse and the Lyceum plus an initial couple of tours with Dr.Feelgood, that led to two years as the on-the-road tour dj with his favourite band the Clash. He accompanied them throughout the UK and was an essential feature of their first three US campaigns. Meanwhile, between tours, he continued to play London concerts with stellar acts like Iggy Pop, Blondie, the Ramones, the Cramps and Black Uhuru.
Excited by how the punk sensibility had spread across the globe, combining with different local musical traditions to bring about fresh musical forms, in the new millennium he hooked up again with Joe Strummer, himself a great adherent of the new global music. This provided Scratchy with the perfect arena to further develop his own fascination with both roots music and the contemporary and, thus, take ‘The Rock and The Roll of The World’ back onto a larger stage.
Scratchy had bypassed so-called ‘DJ culture’ and remains to this day relatively and refreshingly beats-free. He is an unrepentant rock’n’roller. It is that spirit which he still seeks today, in the music of the wider world.
Now, it is not unusual to hear Selecta Scratchy segue from the honking horns of the Skatalites into the pumping brass of Fanfare Ciocarlia. The frantic sounds of New Orleans’ Zydepunks might give way to some classic Cajun, whilst the loping bass and accordion stabs of a Colombian cumbia may hand over to Mano Negra’s jumped-up mestizo-punk. One thing is for sure, his mixes are unique. They are neither predictable nor are they one-dimensional. No two sets are alike. In pushing his audience, Scratchy is always pushing himself. Scratchy passionately believes that whilst being there to entertain, his role can also be to open minds whilst, of course, having fun.
He continues to look forward whilst also delving into the past and plays to wild and enthusiastic crowds in clubs and at major festivals from Sziget to Glastonbury, across Europe and beyond. Since being back on the road with Joe Strummer’s Mescaleros, Scratchy has also teamed up with the Pogues, played at home and abroad with the Dead Brothers, covered Europe with Groundation and, throughout 2006 & 2007, he toured extensively with Gogol Bordello.
In 2004, he compiled the highly praised ‘Scratchy Sounds: Ska, Dub, Roots and Reggae Nuggets’ on Trojan and was also invited by Piranha Records in 2007 to select the tracks for one of their downloadable Jubilee releases, ‘Rockin’ the Barricades’.
Ever with a sharp eye and a highly-tuned ear for emerging talent, he often works in conjunction with the popular London combo, The Urban Voodoo Machine. Along with Paul-Ronney Angel, front man of the band, Scratchy, as resident dj, set up London’s hot monthly club night, the Gypsy Hotel, which entered its fifth successful year in October 2010. In March 2011 they released 'Gypsy Hotel: Bourbon-Soaked Snake-Charmin' Rock'n'Roll Cabaret, Volume 1', a compilation of some of the-best-of-the-best bands they've featured.
Always seeking fresh outlets and audiences that are ready to party and be amazed, Scratchy's long list of triumphs have encompassed the shaking of clubs from the Sonar in Siena to the Scala in London. He has rattled festival tents and stages from Rock for People, Colours and Trutnov in the Czech Republic to the Wig-On Casino at the UK’s Endorse-It and he has rolled ships from Le Bateau Geneve in Switzerland to la Dame de Canton in Paris. Amongst recent successes, Scratchy debuted in Athens, Tirana and Kiev, performed in an ancient castle perched on a hilltop in Calabria and he returned to Ukraine for the Stare Misto Festival in Lviv. Already lined up for 2011 are dates in Italy, France, Hungary, Finland and Scratchy will perform for the first time in Estonia at the World Day Festival in the capital, Tallinn.
Scratchy has been described by one of his listeners as a Music Shaman. Whether on his weekly internet ‘Scratchy Sounds’ radio show, on wirelessfm, or in the flesh, Scratchy’s legendary and vibrant selections will delight, make you want to dance to some of the greatest music on the planet and take you places where others fear to tread.
The Rock and The Roll of The World,
Globalista Rhythms and The Universal Blues.
dj Scratchy mixes on CD equipment
Scratchy Selections Available:
Scratchy Sounds: Ska, Dub, Roots & Reggae Nuggets, double CD on Trojan
Piranha Jubilee Vol.7: Rockin' the Barricades, available from all good download stores
Re:Plugged - Remixes of Jaune Toujours and Mec Yek feat two Scratchy dubs, Choux de Bruxelles
Gypsy Hotel: Bourbon Soaked, Snake Charmin', Rock'n'Roll Cabaret Vol.1
On Waiting Around, Just to See What Happens
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Want to hear about the best night of my life? ...We take out beers from the bar and lean against ...Want to hear about the best night of my life?
...We take out beers from the bar and lean against the wall, near a nice potted plant. The DJ begins to play. We talk, developing our plan. Should we go to the beer garden across the way? How do we make up for missing the show? All the time the DJ's music is crawling up my leg, bouncing, twitching, so that I carry on my conversation with my hips moving to the beat against my own volition. "Hey let's stick around here...wait and see what this guy plays."
The DJ proceeded to play track after track that kept me and my buddy spinning around dancing for hours... He played the most amazing rock and roll from every bygone nook, cranny and corner... he looked into those crevices of forgotten music and plucked out some gems... This is what it must be to be a whirling dervish! I was completely utterly entranced.
You know when you are at a club and there is a great DJ...but every once in a while he/she slips up and plays a song that isn't so great so you finally have a chance to take a break? No one can possibly dance for 4 hours straight, right? Wrong. This music was too good. I swear all of the Swiss must have thought we were on coke or something crazy to be able to dance that long, but it was just because the music was so good...every time a song ended and we thought we could rest... the beat of a new song would sweep us back up again. I felt like a marionette... My feet are killing me. We have been dancing for 2 hours non stop but I am a girl with a boy and I refuse to be a pussy by complaining. I have blisters. I will not complain. Thank god! He looks up, sweat dripping, smile wide, "I have blisters!" he says.
"I do too" I say
"I don't care" he says
"I don't care either" I say
You couldn't have smacked the smile off our faces.
We are in our own world. At one point a song ends and my friend looks up, like Odysseus waiting for another ridiculous task and asks "what the hell is this dude gonna play next?"
I answer, jokingly, "Gogol Bordello."
At this point in Geneva, my friend who is from Brooklyn, (where Gogol Bordello is basically rooted) and myself are the only people in Geneva who know about this band. I threw it out there as a total joke, thinking of the most remote and unlikeliest band that would possibly be played. Basically like suggesting that Howard Stern will be featuring some Tuvan throat singers on his next show.
The next song played? Baro Foro by Gogol Bordello. We smile as if string theory finally makes sense. When something is too ridiculous to be true it is ultimately easier to accept it as true and quite pleasing...
Hours pass......many blisters are gained that will proudly be worn as dance/battle wounds for days......before we leave I run up to the stage to thank the dj for the best night of dancing ever...his name is DJ Scratchy.
'but remember - to kick it over'
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At the end of Sat, Joe talked about how much he appreciated the crowd coming, saying "We're just try...At the end of Sat, Joe talked about how much he appreciated the crowd coming, saying "We're just trying to build an audience here.." - and this was something that was evident at St Ann's, where the crowds were young, that Joe really was on a fresh mission, to represent the world's roots musics to a new generation.. I guess this is why he made the effort to bring along Scratchy to dj the Mescaleros shows, and The Clash's shows back in the day, too, because Scratchy is a natural roots DJ. From rockabilly to rock to dub to african and more, he puts it together in a way that defies boundaries and gives you a warm hopeful feeling inside. As with Joe.
Not forgetting Britain's No.1 Deejay...
London Calling Creditz
We meet at the airport and get on a plane to Vancouver. There seems to be quite a lot of us. We got Baker and Johnny Green our backline crew, and Rob and Adrian who are Welsh sound men, Warren 'Gandalf' Sparks, lighting engineer, and Barry 'Scratchy' Myers, the famous D.J.
Joe Strummer NME
Blogs, Bulletins & Babble
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DJ Scratchy was performing a mixture of Eastern European music and a few reggae/ska sounds. I've bee...DJ Scratchy was performing a mixture of Eastern European music and a few reggae/ska sounds. I've been a fan of Scratchy because I've seen him DJ before with the Pogues and he always has a great selection of music. If I was going to be a DJ, I would do what he does and just play a wide variety of stuff. The first band came on and I didn't know what to expect. Let's just say I wish DJ Scratchy just continued to play music.
Readjunk.com - Gogol Bordello gig
After getting antsy of just sitting around I made my way back inside and danced to DJ Scratchy who was playing some Balkan dub eastern european dancehall or something... I dunno but it sounded fucking awesome.
http://boozewald.livejournal.com - Gogol Bordello gig
During the breaks DJ Scratchy filled the room with a dazzling array of what he calls 'The Rock and The Roll of The World'
Unwicked.com - Gogol Bordello gig
It was indeed a top night... And Scratchy was the icing on the cake
Johnny on Avenue-B.net forum
I always enjoy what he plays at GB gigs. Last time I saw them I bought a reggae and dub compilation he'd compiled and its fantastic. I'd like to see him produce another compilation of the kind of thing he plays before GB.
Joe Stubbs on Avenue-B.net forum
DJ duties at the Beat gig have been taken over at short notice by the one and only DJ Scratchy. Scratchy has a reputation for playing the best in global tunes... expect a scorching set of gypsy-ska beats to clear out all your cobwebs.
Fennerfest myspace bulletin
We spoke to one of the bands, Bedouin Soundclash, about the show and their music: "So far, one of the highlights on the UK leg of the tour has been DJ Scratchy spinning between the bands - he's been spinning amazing music all night.
BBC Manchester on Eastpak Antidote tour
We’re off to a good start with fans dancing to DJ Scratchy before the band hit the stage.
Susie Healey's BBC Oxford review on Gogol Bordello at the Zodiac
Jishfood: On the other hand, the DJ was excellent. I'd really like to get hold of a copy of his playlist, but that'd be a lot of a challenge! He really got my friends and i going with a good mix of ska and eastern european stuff. woo.
Anonymous: DJ Scratchy I've seen him before at other things. He's excellent
community.livejournal.com - Gogol Bordello gig
...whether he's roaring through reggae, ska, punk, soul or rock'n'roll, expect raw, rawkus dancefloor pleasures from a British musical institution.
So here I am at the famous Brixton Academy, site of so many fabled shows...We’re waiting for the band and enjoying the brilliant work of DJ Scratchy, who goes back to the early days of punk, and who I’m pretty sure I heard DJing at my first Clash gig. In Glasgow, he knocked me out when he played The Bureau’s “Only for Sheep”, and tonight he does it again - “Roadrunner” from the Modern Lovers, Dexys’ cover of the Bar-Kays’ “Soulfinger” (must have been for our so-named Medusan!), and lots of great reggae...
Sheva on Pogues.com
We’re all excited for the last London show, but there’s a bit of sadness in the air – as DJ Scratchy reminds us, it’s three years to the day that Joe Strummer died, and he dedicates the evening to him. I’m singing along to “Clampdown” with a kid who wasn’t born when London Calling came out, but he knows every word all the same.
Sheva on Pogues.com
One of the best new additions to the menagerie was DJ Scratchy, who rolled with us from beginning to end, lighting fires in the crowd every night with roots reggae, ska and dub. He’d toured in Europe with The Clash, The Pogues and other such bands, and was no virgin as far as road life goes. He had the absolutely essential quality of cheerfulness, and kept us all laughing when he was around. He developed a very strange attachment to a carved walking stick he acquired in the little Pyrenees resort town of Ax-les-Thermes. Dubbed Le Ours de Ax, the spooky little totem was believed to have possessed Scratchy’s mind, bending his will to its own. Hopefully Scratchy’s had a chance to visit his friendly neighborhood exorcist. If he’s not been institutionalized you can reach him at: http://www.scratchysounds.co.uk/.
One of the highlights of the tour for Scratchy, and for the rest of us as well, was a chance to share the bill with reggae legends U-Roy and Junior Murvin...
Diesel Diaries Vol.7, Groundation.com
What we're listening to right now: Clash DJ, Scratchy on BBC Radio 6 Music. Giving our day some fresh perspective.
Ande: ha... I really enjoyed the music played ...ow yeah ...and from now on Dj Scratchy is my freaking superhero... just because he plays ska, reggae, dub and balkan music... yeah yeah!!!
Dear Gypsy Hotel! Hope ya havin' good times!!!... Is Scratchy back? Just love what he's doin'! Had the honor to see three times with Gogol around! It was so good Scratchy was with them!!! Me & my girl fell in some kinda love with Scratchys Sounzzz. Ciao Kids, Mojo
Gypsy Hotel myspace
Magnus: DJ Scratchy has his own podcast... YES!...
I've just listened to the whole of this show. It's a two hour radio show with DJ Scratchy filled with great groovy music from all over the world. But I guess you already knew that. it's f..... great
rubberheavysoul: Hi, I'm new to this site. Anyway, a million thanks for the podcast. what a great mix of tunes the man provided. I've been listening to his compilation called Scratchy Sounds and this was a nice complement to it. Thanks again.
Magnus: hey, you're welcome rubberheavysoul! Isn't he fantastic? And welcome to the board!
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Barry Myers was one of the leading concert DJs in the 70s punk scene in London, joining The Clash on...Barry Myers was one of the leading concert DJs in the 70s punk scene in London, joining The Clash on the road as their tour DJ... As expected for a Trojan compilation, the packaging is a beaut - extensive liner notes from the man himself reveals the passion behind this reliable labour of love. The two CDs play host to plenty of priceless gems and rarer classics... an inspired selection from someone you couldn't expect anything less than brilliant.
Barry Myers aka DJ Scratchy, was the Clash's tour DJ and his selection of rocksteady, ska and dub sounds as good now as it did a quarter of a century ago. It will turn the coldest, darkest day into a beach bar.
Man, DJ Scratchy's comp on Trojan is amazing. It's one of the best comps of Jamaican music I have ever had the pleasure of owning. Amazing...
Just goes to prove that the Clash knew the good stuff.
Needless to say, but I'll be playing that sucker in constant rotation here in Richmond
Again, this comp is a must have. Hands down, the re-issue of the year.
BOPST - wclm radio
If you caught the Clash during the action-packed 'London Callin' era, you heard a potentially life-changing preshow mix by tour DJ Barry 'Scratchy' Myers, a radio and club spinner with a finely-tuned ear for ska, dub, roots and rocksteady reggae nuggets. In this thrilling two-disc comp from the mighty Trojan Records archives, Myers selects from his vast collection of Jamaican singles for a dynamic 43-track set taking in top-notch rarities...Time for another Scratchy
Fred Shuster, Los Angeles Daily News
There's a lot of good Trojan ska / dub /reggae compilations, but Scratchy Sounds is (so far) undeniably the best.
Compiled by DJ Barry "Scratchy" Myers, most notably the touring DJ for The Clash (and a significant influence on their music), this two-disc set is packed with a canon of ska, dub, reggae and roots, perfectly restored and crystal clear. The mix is thoughtful and witty too - even thematic.
If you're a fan of this music then some of these songs are critical must-gets for your collection. That said, I've even played this for non-fans of reggae and they've absolutely loved it.
As a bonus, the liner notes are written by Barry Myers himself and chronicle his lifetime with this music and all the politics, fads, struggles, victories, and humor that came in-between. The only problem was that I wanted to read more! When does the book come out, Barry?
Brett O'Connor - negatendo.net
Few musical stones are left unturned as Myers picks ska, skinhead tunes, dub, toasting tracks, roots and sweet reggae. At first sight, the track listing looks like he's hurled the titles into the air and listed them in the order in which they fell, but in fact the running order does work... That's Barry Myers putting his years of experience at the decks into practice.
Barry "DJ Scratchy" Myers is a name better known to punk club crawlers in the U.K. than to your average music fan. In the late '70s he was one of the premier punk DJs, supporting the Ramones and the Cramps and eventually serving two years as the tour DJ for the Clash. He was still at it 20 years later, serving the same part for Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros' U.S. tour. How he was able to get such choice gigs boils down to his eclectic ear as a selector, cherry-picking the best tunes, be it rock, soul, or reggae, and revealing them all to be of the same burning (and danceable) spirit. Jamaican music, specifically ska, reggae, and dub, make up a large part of his sets and Scratchy Sounds is a double-CD selection (43 tracks!) with some of Myers favorites. With so many collections sticking strictly to one style or producer, it's a fantastic thing to wander through Scratchy Sounds as it roams from ska innovations like C. Hyman's "Ska Rhythm" and Derrick Morgan's "Moon Hop" to a rarely heard extended version of Niney the Observer's reggae classic "Blood and Fire." ... Scratchy Sounds has the feel of a long-labored mixtape made for an old friend, and hopefully will lead to other collections helmed by Myers. Recommended.
Wade Kergan, All Music Guide
Selected by the London Punk scene's disc jockey of choice... if you only pick up one reggae set this year, this is the one.
Southern Daily Echo
Barry 'Scratchy' Myers helped open up white British youth to the wealth of great Jamaican music, beside Bob Marley's then-massive Exodus. A quarter-century later, this comp offers a rockin' 2-CD reconstruction of a Scratchy set... in a righteous mix-up
While Dingwalls is a now legendary name on the groove scene, few of us outside of London have had the fortune to hear their resident DJs like Barry Scratchy Myers. Scratchy delivers the hardcore roots rockers and deep deep reggae on this awesome 2 disc collection from Trojan
Barry 'Scratchy' Myers club/concert DJ and tour DJ with the Clash introduced many punks to the equally rebellious sounds of reggae and the more broader fare that jamaican music styles offer.
Here he brings together a collection of 12inch cuts, rarities and classics that never appear on the plethora of inferior reggae collections that swamp the market. This is my album of the year.
The Soundtrack to Changing Times
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Warming up the dancefloor in anticipation of their latest compilation CD, the regular tunesmiths at ...Warming up the dancefloor in anticipation of their latest compilation CD, the regular tunesmiths at this monthly Trojan night welcome DJ Scratchy to their fold... Tonight's your chance to hear why the DJ is so revered by his fans.
His name may not be as familiar as the Clash or Blondie, but DJ Scratchy's role in the late-70s/early-80s punk/black music fusion is just as important. Spinning at all the key events in London and even supporting Joe Strummer and pals on tour, Scratchy's sets became the soundtrack of a changing time.
Touring with The Clash and lately with the hell-raising Gogol Bordello, Scratchy promises ska'd-up, speed-punk exocet missiles for your eardrums.
Autre dj etonnant, c'est Scratchy, dj incontournable des soirees londoniennes... il est aussi une legende vivante.
Reggae Sun Ska programme
Between 1978 and 1980 Barry 'Scratchy' Myers was The Clash's tour DJ, warming up the crowds and spinning tunes that the band either loved or were happy to be turned on to.
Throughout concert history, tour djs have been a thing to take or leave. Often nameless, faceless, entertainment to keep the crowds from rioting in the silence...with DJ Scratchy this is just not the case...
Very few bands and concert goers understand the value of having good music to link their show experience together. As Scratchy said in an interview a few years back " a concert should be about the atmosphere from the moment a punter walks in the door to when they leave... at the end ofthe night." It is clear his roots and experiences as a traveler of the world culminate into the vibrant weave of sounds and colors that become each performance. In addition to his fabulous music, Scratchy is witty, humorous, entertaining, and has a commanding stage presence that surpasses most musicians of the time. He may not be a band, but you all need to check him out! Because as he told us his favorite gig is "the one yet to come."
The Concert Guru - Blogspot.com
Go East Young Man
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1. For a youngster like me (I’m 28 and dj-ing for last 8 years) 70-s scene looks totally diff...1. For a youngster like me (I’m 28 and dj-ing for last 8 years) 70-s scene looks totally different. How did you get involved?
Dj-ing was less the thing that ‘everybody’ did back then. I’d had a show on college radio and felt doing this was a great way to express my love of music. In the mid-70s, I then started playing places like The Speakeasy and Dingwalls Dancehall, where I was resident for a couple of years, The best way to describe them is “rock discos”. So, my approach always came first from the music - the tunes & songs – and only then, did I concern myself with whether the beat would make people dance.
2. Could you list the bands you were dj-ing for.
The first tours I did were with Dr. Feelgood and then, for two years I was on the road with The Clash, a very exciting part of my life. But since then I’ve toured on a number of occasions with The Pogues. I was a regular part of Gogol Bordello’s touring family in 2006 & 2007 and, over the years, have worked in concert with many of the greats like Iggy Pop, The Ramones, The Cramps, Blondie, Black Uhuru. I also hooked up for a while with a wonderful band from Switzerland, The Dead Brothers, did a tour in Europe with American reggae band Groundation and, for the last few years, have been closely associated with an amazing band from London, The Urban Voodoo Machine, who will be playing at Stare Misto in May. Not to be missed!
3. Did you ever play in any band as a musician?
Sure did. I’ve played in a succession of bands down the years who’ve often had fascinating and sometimes controversial names. I was in a punk band called The Snivelling Shits and have since been in Rank & File, Khmer Rouge, Junior Manson Slags and fronted my own garage band, Trash County Dominators. I even guest sometimes on a couple of songs with The Voodoos. Perhaps Lviv will get the chance to see me in action!
4. What did you carry in your dj case back then, in 70-s?
I had boxes and, fortunately, a mini-van to load them in the back. It was all vinyl, of course, as it was the pre-digital age. Musically, I spun a mixture of punk, reggae, ska, sixties soul and psychedelic garage, rockabilly, rhythm’n’blues and rock’n’roll: The best of three rockin’ decades.
5. Any positions have changed since that time?
Back then, everything was more Anglo-oriented. The music of Jamaica was the radical, more global element of what I did. But otherwise, it was mainly music from America and the UK. Since then, first through the Pogues and then Mano Negra, people from all over the world began delving into their own roots. But instead of simply re-producing folk music, they came up with something fresh that resonated with a punk energy and sound. So now, along with everything I played before, you’ll also hear music like mestizo and gypsy punk and their roots in the likes of cumbia and roma music. It’s the same tapestry, but with a lot more colours. If it was Rock’n’Roll in the 70s, now it’s The Rock and The Roll of The World.
6. How do you get fresh music?
A lot of hunting is web-based. But there are people I’ve connected with over the years who will tell me about music I might not otherwise come across. Yuriy from Russendisko, for example, has turned me on to a few things. Another great way is by travelling, hitting local shops, asking what’s happening, or even by people from bands giving me a CD. There is only so much you can do in front of a computer and that’s good, because it would be awful if we never left the house. Part of the job is checking out a lot that I just reject. Ah, but when you find the pearls, it’s still exciting.
7. What have you prepared for Kyiv concert?
Nothing. Other than constantly looking for new music and that includes checking the back catalogue, I don’t prepare in the sense of working out set lists. Every gig is a unique and pretty spontaneous experience. That’s why I’ve always carried a lot of music. Of course, I’m aware of where I am visiting and that might influence some choices. But, if it does, it’ll happen on the night.
8. What’s “Gipsy hotel” you are playing at?
The Gypsy Hotel is a club I’ve been involved in with Paul-Ronney Angel from The Urban Voodoo Machine. He does the bookings and I’m the resident ‘wax-spinner’. We’ve been going about three and a half years, feature live bands, burlesque and performers and put on a great party. It’s Bourbon Soaked Snake Charmin’ Rock’n’Roll Cabaret, a very popular night and happens twice a month. I’m actually missing one to play Kiev!
9. And generally – what would you say about the balkanbeat hype in Europe?
I think it’s good if it is exposing people and encouraging them to dig deeper, to find out what is at the heart of Balkan, Gypsy and other music of Europe and Asia. But, you use the word “hype” and, unfortunately, like any trend, for many it will be here today, gone tomorrow. Also, not being that huge on electro-dance, a lot of what is called ‘balkanbeats’ is not that satisfying to me and too much of it is, in my opinion, just an excuse for another ‘house’ mix or is nothing more than turbo-folk, rather than a roots rockin’ original. Fanfare Ciocarlia are supremely danceable in their own right. That’s not to say that there isn’t some interesting work being done, but what I generally prefer to play is the Beat of the Balkans & Beyond!
10. I’ve found your soundcloud account by accident. And to be frank, I’ve been really surprised to find a dubstep set there. How come such a non-conventional dj like you is spinning that type of music.
You were right to be surprised. It must be another Scratchy. There are a few. But there is only one “non-conventional” me!
11. And since dubstep is music driven by blogs – tell more about your concern on “social media” – are they such a great tool for musicians. And how do you personally use web for your musical purposes?
I came late to Facebook and myspace and once I got over the irritation of information overload, particularly on Facebook, it has been of value. The danger of the web is that there is just too much out there. But then you simply have to find your own way of managing it and exercising quality control. I’m glad I have a profile on them now. Not only is the music I play far more global than 30 years ago, through the ‘net, so is my reach now. I have a page on Facebook, Scratchy Sounds (DJ), that’s mainly about my wirelessfm.net internet radio show and there are people who’ve joined up from New Zealand to Spain, from the US to Ukraine and most points in between. The word is spreading!
12. And now about your compilations. How did you come to compiling?
The first one was Scratchy Sounds for Trojan. It was a great opportunity to put something back out there and I was able to include quite a few rare roots reggae and ska tracks on it. The selection reflected the Jamaican music I was playing in the late 70s and still do! The next compilation, Rockin’ The Barricades, was a download-only for a series put out by Piranha Records and was therefore more globalista in its approach. I have a third one coming later this year. We are putting out a Gypsy Hotel release, with some of the finest of the finest who’ve played there.
13. Have you ever done any other production? Remixes? Or may be would like to run your own label?
I worked in a little studio for a while, produced some bits and pieces including the two Trash County Dominators albums. I don’t do dance remixes as such. With dub reggae being a big influence, anything I’ve done I prefer to be regarded as a version.
14. Right now a British colleague of yours is collecting dj stories on his Facebook page. Tell us some.
The best story is the next one to be lived!
15. Yuri Gurzhy has told me you might have polish/Ukrainian roots. Is it true? Have you ever felt any connection with this land?
My mother’s mother’s side came from Lviv. It would’ve been called Lvov then and part of Poland. It’s the only information I have. But it’s a buzz that I’ll be playing there in May at Stare Misto. I’ll be ready to stake my claim for a little bit of rock’n’roll territory!
It's All Greek
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1. What do you remember most from touring with The Clash in the late 70s? There was a real...1. What do you remember most from touring with The Clash in the late 70s?
There was a real sense that we could change the world. And we did in a way. Maybe it wasn't as complete a take-over as we might have believed we were capable of, but then change is a continual process anyway. I have, though, met many people whose perspective on life was changed by the Clash. The band and the people who worked intimately with them were a strong and diverse bunch of characters with a common commitment to the music and everything else we were about. That bond remains with me and I had a great deal of fun whilst doing it, too.
2. You have been DJing for more than 3 decades. DJing has changed a lot since your first days on the decks. How does someone stay legit throughout such a long period of time?
Because questions of authenticity, integrity and passion for the music were why I began, they’ve remained the core of my beliefs. When you set your standards high, there are bound to be disappointments. But hooking up again with Joe Strummer in 2001/2, only strengthened what I’d always felt. Musically, I strike a balance between recognizing both what I’m looking for and what excites me, whilst remaining open enough to still be amazed by what I was not expecting.
3. How did you face the transition from vinyl to CDs?
I accept that CDs will never quite sound like vinyl and I have respect for the vinyl junkie. But I've always carried a lot of material and it used to take an army of roadies to carry my flight case of albums, 12"s and 7"s. Working with CDs has meant I could expand my range many times over. I didn't want to just be trapped in some kind of nostalgia approach to dj'ing. CDs seemed the best way to travel extensively and incorporate a lot more new and old music into my repertoire. Any music I have or pick-up on vinyl, that isn't otherwise available, I digitize myself for road work. It's important to maintain quality as much as possible. But by embracing the technology, I've been able to spread the message of The Rock and The Roll of The World much further.
4. Which is the tune that you can't resist spinning, although it has been played hundreds of times?
Tough question, because I'm always trying to freshen the pot and not play the same tunes night after night. That said, of course there are sure-fire 'hits' on the dance-floor. I just try not to rely on the more obvious choices. Why play the same songs that everybody else does? But if you want me to pluck one particular favourite out of thin air, The Survivors ‘Rawhide’.
5. Lately there is a lot of buzz going on about Gypsy and balkan music. You have been playing this kind of music many years now. What do you think of this late "trend"?
Trends in themselves don’t interest me, because they're transient. I prefer substance. But I’m pleased that Gypsy and Balkan music is getting a fair amount of attention at the moment. It's a genre I'm particularly partial to. It’s still necessary to exercise quality control. Not all such music is good, or, at least, not in my terms and, under most circumstances, I’d rather listen to and play a Romanian Fanfare or some Greek Tsifteteli than some DJ’s idea of a remix. The trouble with trends is that opportunists jump on the bandwagon, exploit the music or artists for their own ends and then move on. Good music is for keeps, not simply ‘This year’s Big Thing.’ But if people are moved enough to seek out the source through whichever route, then it has to be worthwhile.
6. Why have you kept distance from the so called "DJ culture"?
When I started, hardly anybody wanted to be a DJ, whereas now just about everyone claims to be one. I saw people like Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa in New York in the early 80s. I was hugely impressed, but I never wanted to be a turntablist and then House was just the new Disco in my book. I did take a break to concentrate on my own playing and the more visual arts and just by-passed the explosion in DJ culture. When I returned to the decks, I needed to find my place in this new DJ world. I’ve always been more interested in electric and acoustic sounds and performances than electro and had to carve out my own niche. I didn’t change to join the pack. I just developed what I’d always done. My roots and influences are rock’n’roll, rhythm’n’blues, soul and reggae not disco or pop and I found the same earthy energy I could relate to in the likes of gypsy music and cumbia and brought them all together. Anyway, I prefer the term Selectah these days!
7. Who/ what has inspired your style as a DJ?
Nobody in particular. I used to listen to the off-shore pirates as a kid. But it never crossed my mind that I wanted to be like any of them. I was more into being a guitarist. The first outlet for expressing my love of other people’s music was college radio. That may well have had an influence of my more varied, free-form approach. My work covers the full spectrum of club, concert, festival and radio and my starting point for all, is songs rather than beats and that means even my club work is ‘music you can dance to’ rather than simply ‘dance music’. Also I’ve always been into roots music as well as the contemporary, so I never played what was only current. And then punk came along and was about making it up as you went along. I just looked at what sounds moved my soul and made sense together, in terms of attitude and spirit. I still do the same today, but on a broader and deeper global basis.
8. Which are the ingredients of a good party?
How much Jack Daniels have you got? Or Vodka? Seriously, for me, the crowd have a big role to play, because the feedback of their energy and enthusiasm is the best way to drive me on to greater heights. A lot of the music I play may be unfamiliar to much of the audience, but I totally believe in its power to get people jumping whilst turning them on to something different.
9. How much longer do you think that you are going to stay in the booths?
As long as I keep finding audiences with a spirit of adventure and I find pleasure in doing what I do, why stop? I love to travel and what better way to see the world and experience different cultures than by combining it with my other huge passion, music!
10. What's your piece of advice to a new DJ?
The DJ is secondary to the music itself. Know it intimately. Love It. Express yourself through it. We all have egos and personalities. Be yourself, not someone else. It’s hard to set out to be unique as a DJ. But, if you are, your identity will emerge. For me, the best DJs are educators as well as entertainers. You should give the people what they might not always realize they want. To be a maverick, it helps to be a bit of a maniac.
Every set is fresh.
Working with the mood and context of the event, Scratchy has an in-depth knowledge and love of music that spans the last half-century of many genres and nations. In a typically untypical set, you may well hear rock'n'roll, rhythm'n'blues, rockabilly, reggae, ska, 60s soul and garage bands, roma music, cumbia and other globalista rhythms alongside the exciting ever-growing world of mestizo punk, from the influential work of the Clash, through Mano Negra and on to it's current & future incarnations, epitomized by Gogol Bordello.
This is the spirit of 'punk', The Rock and The Roll of The World.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.