Wonderful Familiarity: Ruf Dug Reflects

5 Minute Read
Written by Sharon Andrews

An all round lovely legend shoots the breeze.

Ruf Dug has to be one of Manchester’s finest exports. Dynamic DJ, vibrant producer, NTS radio presenter and Junglist. Making it right since the 90s, he is committed to being as real as he can be, and to shining a light on raw talent.

But most of all, Ruf Dug just comes across as a down to earth bloke.

He doesn’t suffer fools mind, and possesses a wit as sharp as switch blade, but he is someone who has kept the quality high and has his feet firmly on the gritty Manchester ground.


Here we talk about 3-day mushie hazes, lesbian sex parties, Street Fighter 2, and making sure no one dumps in a bag on the tour bus.

Thank you for the chat. Where are you at the minute and how are you spending the day?

Hiiii I’m at home and my son is off school sick so I’m playing lots of Beyblade today.

How is the Manchester music scene in your eyes? Is it firing and churning out plenty of exciting raw talent? 

It’s kind of as it always has been. World class yet parochial. Love it.

Why does Manchester have such a great history of musical talent? What do you think is in the water of the Irwell?

It’s a class thing. We pretty much invented the industrial working class and its commensurate cultural components. We do it better than everyone else because we are just about still holding on to the meaningful elements of that.

You often quote your ‘take off’ moment being down to Moodymann. How did he get hold of the record do you think?

He bought it from Vinyl Junkies in Soho (RIP)

This was ‘Dirty’ was on Chris Duckenfield’s label, right? 

Nope Moodymann bought the first Ruf Kutz which came after the “Dirty” EP.

An unsung hero of the North. But that’s another interview. 

Chris Duckenfield is one of the true legends; I’m lucky he came into my life when he did, and even luckier that he’s still there.

‘Casita Mas Alta,’ you called it a ‘love letter to Ibiza.’ Did you live out there as a kid or something? What has been your relationship with the island? 

I first went to Ibiza when I was still in my Mum’s tum, and I’ve been going my whole life. It’s where I had my DJ Epiphany (in 1982). It’s one of my homes.

Do play out on the Isle at all these days?

Yep, there’s quite a few decent spots these days where you don’t have to play shit tech-house to vapid wannnabe influencers and trusties.

What took you to Australia initially? Where were you exactly? What were you doing out there work wise? How long were you there for?

  1. a girl
  2. Enmore 
  3.  “working” for NSW state govt as an IT guy.
  4.  8 years

Sounds like it was an interesting time though. I read somewhere you talked of “squat jams, lesbian sex parties and 3-day mushroom-fuelled bush raves”. What made you come back? It sounds cracking.

I was stuck on a temporary work visa and wasn’t allowed to pack in my day job to do music full-time, so I came back to Europe to realise my dreammmmmm. 

The week after the lesbian sex party I was back in suburban Manchester in my mum’s spare bedroom.

You popped up on Rhythm Section a few years back, which initially surprised me. But you and BZ – even though you can be on different musical tips – you share a lot of the same values and clearly have a close connection. Bradley Zero said of you “He is the epitome of everything we stand for and an inspiration for all we aim to blossom into.” How did this close connection come about? What is the basis for your mutual respect?

We went for fish and chips on Bellenden Road in October 2012 and it’s kind of been on since then. He’s, my hero. He came to my wedding and my mother-in-law still asks me about that handsome man with the dreadlocks more often than she really ought to.

Have you beaten him at football lately and is he any good at it?

I don’t think I’ve ever faced him competitively in any form whatsoever. Maybe we played Mortal Kombat together once.

You must have been referring to the Soup Kitchen then.

I never realised back in 2016 when I bought that ‘High Priestess’ – Cherry Garcia on Golf Channel was you. I remember loving it in the first few bars when I bought it!!  Was it a kind of undercover project at that time? What has happened to this brilliant collab? Are you still in touch with Jon Tye? 

It wasn’t really undercover, but we didn’t draw any attention to ourselves. Jon and I still swap messages and I’d love to find the time for another mind-expanding trip to his Cornish studio. 

I’ve been so lucky on my journey to meet some genuinely magical folk who’ve not just taught me practical things but who have properly changed the way the world appears to me, and for the better. Jon seems to do this to so many people!

Golf Channel was a ‘buy it soon as I saw it’ label for me. What happened to Phil South and Gold Channel do you know?

Phil’s still out there doing all kinds of fascinating things both in the wide world of music and elsewhere. The Golf Channel catalogue endures, I’ve been playing Paradise by Payfone a lot lately.

You’ve been working with the lovely Abigail Ward. Tell us a little about the talented Abgail and this release on Ruf Kutz?

I don’t know anybody more universally esteemed and acclaimed as Abs! Her diligence and compassion and genuine love for the entire world is unmatched, she tries harder than anyone I know to see the beauty in everything and everyone and she deserves every success that this pitiful world can bestow on her because she makes it a better place for us all.

And she makes better tunes than me, you, and everyone else. And she’s fuckin funny as fuck. I remember during lockdown she posted a few clips on social media of her mucking around with synths and I wrote to her and said “hey if ur making anything let me hear it” and she wrote back saying “oh no I’m just playing around no way can I actually make a tune” and then two years later she casually emails me one of the greatest US Garage tunes of all time. That I can recount this story without a hint of wild jealousy is a testament to the beauty of her character.

Who else are you working with at the minute?

Dan Hope my partner in Rainy Heart, James Holroyd who I’m doing Open Secret with, Sarah Bates, WU-KI, DJ Absolutely Shit, loads of Stretford DJs, the crew at Flawd/Higher Ground, Edwin jeans.

I spent this weekend in Glasgow, and went out looking for shops with crowds, banners, and balloons. Record Store Day not really a thing up here. What are your thoughts on this day. … does Manchester buy into it much?

Well, you’ve got Piccadilly at one end of the spectrum with ppl queuing up 24 hrs before opening and then at the other All Night Flight being moody and saying mean things about it. All styles (not quite) all smiles… Personally I really don’t give a shit about it; I completely forgot it was on till I saw ANF whinging about it on insta. It’s not really aimed at me anymore.

I know how you feel about high-priced records, so I won’t ask you what’s the most expensive record you own is. What’s the best bargain bin find you’ve ever had, where did you find it, and was it less than a pound?

Digital Caresse – Demain. 1 euro from a 2nd hand shop on Guadeloupe, ripped it that night to put on Youtube, had Nick the Record Facebook messaging me within hours asking if I had any doubles. I had the Invisible City crew pretty much convinced I was faking it, before u knew it, there was one going for funny money on Discogs. My one brief moment cosplaying as an elite digger.

You have a love of the lo-fi and a passion for the under polished tracks of the Street Soul era. Are you still finding records from that time? How do you find them? Is there one you want and can’t for the life of you find?

The StreetSoul thing isn’t quite at the level of 94 Jungle fetishism where everyone’s digging out their old DAT demos to try and polish 30-year-old turds, but there’s still lots to find. 

There is one particular Manchester record I’m after, but no way am I naming it here!!!

I was listening to you on NTS last week. It feels like you really enjoy the radio thing. Where when how did you catch the bug for broadcasting?

I love radio so much. I wouldn’t want to have to choose between radio and club Djing.

I started off on Wythenshawe Hospital Radio in 1991. The station was very well equipped with loads of Strawberry Studios’ old gear (which meant nothing to me at the time but now OH BOY) and the console even had a little bleeper button to bleep out swear words and we had a lot of fun with that.

What I love about radio is that even though it’s a broadcast medium, there’s a level of intimacy that’s unparallelled. Most people listen on their own so that means for a couple of hours each time it’s just me and them hanging out together. It’s difficult to really feel that at the time it’s happening but I’m lucky to have this DJ career that takes me to many different places around the world and EVERY time I play somewhere, doesn’t matter where it is, how big or small, somebody will come up to me and tell me they listen to the show and it’s really beautiful because even though we’ve only just met physically, we’ve already shared time together – quite intimate time together. 

There’s always a wonderful familiarity with these ‘strangers’ as we reminisce about music that we’ve listened to together and we share stories of those times. It’s the very best icebreaker and one of the greatest gifts that doing radio has given to me.


“I’ve been so lucky on my journey to meet some genuinely magical folk who’ve not just taught me practical things but who have properly changed the way the world appears to me, and for the better.”


Do you think about the show much in preparation, or do you just rock up a play? Is your wit and playlist purely from the hip?

It’s all pretty much off the cuff – I put together music the day before but don’t really think too much about the order, though it’s usually mellowish until midday at which point we get ready to kick Monday’s arse.

Talking wise, it’s just verbal diarrhoea; I tried writing links once and it was rubbish. I just pretty much say whatever’s in my head and hope that my internal filter stops me from being a massive twat. I did recently refer to humorous conversation as ‘banter’ though and the chat room is NEVER going to let me forget that one.

You played ‘Queen In My Empire’ which is on an old ‘Lost’ CD I have. But I don’t remember that vocal on it? What version trickery is this… can you enlighten me? 

There are two versions of the track – King In My Empire and Queen In My Empire, with different vocalists and backing tracks. They’re built in such a way that you can play the two together at the same time and they make a beautiful third tune. As a DJ I’ve always been in love with the idea of the ‘Third Tune’ and I try to make as many of them as I can in a set, so I’m naturally drawn to these two tracks – they’re both magnificent songs in their own right but also total DJ tools. Bloody geniuses.

If you had to choose one of the other, club set or a radio show, which one would you prefer to do forever and tell me why?


I’d love to hear about your two weeks touring with Roisin. Was this a career highlight for you? Were you a massive Roisin Fanboy before?

I heard Ruby Blue before it came out cos some pals were massive Herbert fanboys and he’d sent them a demo CD. It blew my mind and I resolved there and then to work with Roisin one day; I’m not particularly ambitious, and I have very few clearly defined goals, but this has been one of them. I started doing stuff with Skint records a few years ago entirely because she was signed to Skint at the time and I thought she might hear something I made and maybe I could get to work with her. The day I finally showed up on her radar was a BIG moment for me.

How much fun did you have on the tour? What was the best bit?

It was tons of fun. Waking up on the bus as it was on the outskirts of Paris and pulling up at the venue to see my name up in lights was fairly unreal.

Did anyone shit on the bus?

Nope! Not even an emergency dump in a plastic bag. (I’d done LOTS of research on this one and was ready to do this if necessary).

As festival season enthusiastically approaches, you are playing at the Wild Wood Disco in June. Are you a Wild Wood virgin? 

Yep. I’m really excited!

What do you know of the event? 

I know it’s loose, colourful, and unpretentious. I’m playing Friday and Saturday (I think), a B2B with old mate Dr Banana and then a solo stint on Saturday. 

How are you at sleeping in tents these days. Are you down for the ground or do you prefer something a little more compact and bijoux?

Lately I’ve been getting hotel upgrades on my festival bookings, and I have to say I don’t mind it. That being said I’m also really good at pimping out the standard festival issue bell tent. Top tip: Sort ur guy ropes out gang cos whoever they hired to put up those tents didn’t give a shit about how tight they are.

What are you working on release wise at the minute, what can we look forward to out of the house of Ruf Kutz & Dug?

Open Secret edits – 4 hot cuts from the dancefloor of the world’s best secret audiophile party.

“Looking For Trouble” mini-album on Pinchy & Friends – best record I’ve ever made by miles.

My remix of “The House” by Roisin Murphy

RK20 – ghost assembly remix EP

Also doing something very cool for Rhythm Section and about halfway through an album and MAYBE I’m gonna make a country record…

What is the most ridiculous interview question anyone has ever asked you out of interest?

This next one.

Top computer Games of the 90s – can you tell me 3 that were in the top 10? Go!

This is INSANE! So much happened in the 90s! Early 1990 saw the EU launch of the Gameboy and by 1999 we were on the verge of the arrival of the PS2… are you kidding me? 3 games? No way! Here’s a bunch:

  • secret of monkey island
  • streets of rage
  • street fighter 2
  • Super Mario World
  • F-Zero
  • FIFA
  • GTA 1
  • Resident Evil
  • Tekken 2
  • Wipeout
  • Grand Turismo
  • fuckin come on 3 games ur KIDDING ME

Did you ever consider being a stand-up comic?

Standup died with Bill Hicks.

Is Manchester the coolest city in the world?