Photos: Adriaan Louw
Scratcha DVA is no stranger to larking about, as regular listeners to his anarchic Rinse FM breakfast show will attest.
But when it comes to making music, he takes things very seriously indeed. His debut album, Pretty Ugly, is due out via Hyperdub on March 9, and features vocal contributions from Cornelia, A.L., Muhsinah, Natalie Maddix and Zaki Ibrahim. The tirelessly energetic Londoner travelled all the way to South Africa in the hope that Ibrahim would turn up for an impromptu studio session; his tenacity was rewarded, and the elusive local singer did indeed show, resulting in one of the album’s most fierce and compelling cuts. Scratcha’s a man who make things happen.
Below, the soon-to-be-a-household-name DJ/producer tells us more about the album and the collaborations at its heart, as well as his teenage listening habits, thwarted professional football career and why he’s planning to up sticks for Berlin. “You won’t see me again,” he warns…
“If you have a ginger baby you can’t push it back in and hope it comes back out blonde.”
The first album I ever bought was… one of the Jungle Mania compilations. First artist album was So Solid – They Dont Know.
The last record I bought was… Frank Ocean – ‘Novacane’… Only ‘cos I lost my bank card recently and I’ve been waiting for a new one. If I had my card I probably would’ve said Swindle ft. Footsie & Nadia Sulliman – ‘Ignition’.
If I hadn’t end up being a musician, I’d probably be… skinny.
To begin with I didn’t envisage Pretty Ugly being a vocal-heavy album. Not at all. I just went in the studio and vybzed up some stuff. If anything got vocalled after that it just came naturally. Once we’d swapped around a couple things I did think it was vocal-heavy – but if you have a ginger baby you can’t push it back in and hope it comes back out blonde. It’s just the way it happened, and you will still love it.
“I ate ostrich and danced to trance music against my will.”
I pinned down my collaborators by sending loads and loads of bugging emails. Some of the artists I have on the album I had to bug like 5-10 different people just to get the right email or phne number. My publishers, Westbury, were a good help as well. But I think me just knowing what I wanted helped.
In a situation like Zaki Ibrahim, she has a Wiley-like style about her so even getting hold of her on email wasn’t easy. LV had an email and phone link for me. They were the people who showed me about her on Youtube vid tracks they produced. But she’s mad busy – like most good acts – and couldn’t always get back to me. So I ended up just booking a flight out to South Africa and telling her I’m coming, I’m gonna book a studio and i need you there, and she showed up. l’ll travel anywhere for the right piece of the puzzle, really.
“When I live on the same street as Machinedrum and can knock on Jimmy Edgar’s door for a cup of sugar, you won’t see me again.”
When I was a kid, I most wanted to be… a professional footballer. And I was good but it all went wrong – I don’t care though.
I’ve just come back from my second trip out to South Africa. Spent nine days out there with Kode9 which was mad fun. I got to play Rezonance festival with Gerv/LV as well, and spent more time with the people in Capetown who booked me last time I went over. Theres a night out there called Step Up and they’re fully reaping the UK sounds hard. Got to play there as well and I ate ostrich and danced to trance music against my will.
If I could live anywhere except London… it would be Berlin – and I will. ‘Cos at the end of the day, when I live on the same street as Machinedrum and can knock on Jimmy Edgar’s door for a cup of sugar, you won’t see me again.
As told to Tom Lea
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