Interview: Ritchie Ruftone is no hater
Generally, most DJs worth their salt aspire to be able to scratch up and deftly manipulate vinyl records. It’s where DJing first began and turntablism is still alive and well with online world championships and new scratch records being released. 25ThC caught up with Ritchie Ruftone, who has won world championships and multiple consecutive UK championships in both DMC and IDA, to discuss his latest routine and scratch record:
Congratulations on your recent second place in the 2015 DMC Online DJ World championships. How long did it take you to put together your routine and how did you decide on what tracks and tricks you were going to use?
So this routine was a mix of some older stuff from last year that I couldn’t get a finish to and some new songs that I had managed to get stems for – which is separate parts of the songs – for example drums on their own, bass on its own, melody on its own and so on – so I can chop it up and re-arrange it on my machine or sampler/sequencer.
Basically my 2015 DMC online routine consists of five different songs/parts from start to finish. Part 1 is a Lig one song called “complete” that I chopped up the stems/parts of the song and re-made it into to separate files/track left and right deck file – this process goes on for most of my routine building these days. This routine starts off with some simple volume and open fader run thru – juggling – then some melody chase juggling and some pullbacks – then some cue pad hitting with the melody notes and the drum beats – then I finish it off with some scratching with Rob Base and E-Z Rock – I Wanna Rock Right Now and the classic ahhhhh sample too.
Part two is a song by Crazy Daylight called All Fun and Games. Again, same deal really but a different speed/bpm to the previous routine. I use the stems for this one too… left deck has the melody which I scratch and play – and the right deck has the beats and bass. This was an old routine that I couldn’t find a finish to last year but I added a sort of climax to it with the power chirp scratching at the end with the beat build and some old school hip hop quotable classic drops like – Eric B & Rakim – “this is how it should be done” – “my style is identical to none” – and LL Cool J – “I’m just getting warm”. Which leads me into part 3 of my routine… a song by Cuboid called Got Me Burning. This is the same speed as the Crazy Daylight routine – 100bpm and is more of a harder dubstep sounding/midtempo bass song.
Next is part four – Gangstarr routine – classic old skool anthem called Who’s Gonna Take The Weight by DJ Premier and Guru. This one I managed to find the isceolation of the James Brown horn, so I scratched it up over the instrumental to re-create the original track and then went into a breakdown/pullback juggle then into a chase/run thru juggle then finish.
Then to the final part part five – which is a song called “Clear” by Cybotron (Juan Atkins). Again I found the isolation to the melody so I turned this into a introduction before I dropped the switch up sample and changed both turntables speeds from 33 to 45 so I could finish with some extra fast double time electro scratching. So thats a basic run thru of how the routine went. As for track selection – I really just go with what songs I feel I can get the most out of – even though there were a few techniques I can do that I didn’t use in this years DMC – like some three click drumming variations. I also left out and some other newer scratch + vol fader styles I have been working on too – but I guess I will just have to save all this stuff for my next routine 🙂
How and when did you first get into scratching and which DJs inspired you?
I properly got into scratching back in about 95/96 when I was doing a pirate radio station in my hometown Edinburgh – Scotland. Local DJs were cutting it up on the hip hop show. I was just mixing dnb and jungle tunes back then even, though I loved hip hop. They got me into buying scratch records and two copies of US import hip hop 12 inches – big up Edinburgh hip hop legends DJ’s like Andy A-one – Frosty J – Craig Smith and Babes. I’m also inspired by all battle djs DMC + IDA old and new.
You have now released two excellent volumes of your own scratch record “Practice Yo Cuts”. How do you decide what samples to use and what makes a good scratch record?
So yeah volume one was my first venture into a non skip in a while. I made one in 2004 called Braveheart Breaks, so that helped with what not to do this time maybe, but yeah I just gathered a bunch of classic samples and some new ones and made them into either 100bpm or 133bpm 1 bar loops. I made sure all the volumes are good and that the samples fit nicely on the grid, so there is a little bit of space in between each sound so its nice and clean to scratch and you can catch and scratch the start of each sample. Then your good to go basically – well sort of – after you test it 1000000 times in Serato and adjust it loads, hehe.
Vol. 1 of Practice Yo Cuts was featured in a superb video by DJ Fong Fong and Mart One. How did you feel seeing them cut up your record and did it result in more sales?
Yeah I love Fong Fong, he’s really cool. I gave him a copy at the IDA world finals in Poland in December 2014 and he said he was going to do a video with the “I Wanna Rock” section – and hey guess what – he did – and it was super dope. It must have helped with the sales I’m sure – but the mark up isn’t that huge these days for scratch vinyl.
A majority of DJs these days are scratching using Digital Vinyl Systems on Traktor/Serato. What in your opinion are the pros and cons of using DVS as opposed to pure vinyl records?
Well first off, so little new music is available on vinyl these days compared to downloads so if you want to be varied then DVS is the way. I worked in a record store for 15 years so I love vinyl and have thousands of them and prefer vinyl 100% for scratching, so I practice my cuts but DVS is awesome for the fact I can turn up at a gig with 50-000 songs+ and be prepared to rock any party. DVS is also cool for me so I can make my own DJ edits and use all the new features that you can’t do on vinyl like – loop rolls – and use the cue points – so yeah I like em both really – I’m not a hater – I embrace all technology.
What tips do you have for aspiring Scratch DJs?
Eat – sleep – scratch – repeat – ohh and practice yo cuts……
But yeah seriously – just enjoy it. Learn the basics like chirps – flares – stabs – babys – fades – then get ‘ em tight. Do them over different tempos – then work on harder cuts like two clicks – crabs – three clicks – chirp flares – and more record hand variations too. Just keep on working and you will improve if you really want to – its not for those who want results fast – u gotta want to learn and learn slow before you try to do fast 🙂
A few DJ’s have started their own online scratch schools plus video blogs. Is this something you would like to get involved with?
I have been a scratch tutor at the Edinburgh DJ acadmey for 9 years – teaching 8 week courses and private advanced scratch tuition. Yeah I could do some tutorials but there are already a bunch up.
For more information check out Ritchie’s website. Practice Yo Cuts Volume 1 is out now on limited edition Lilac vinyl with Volume two due in the next few weeks.
Interview by 25ThC