The Rolling Stones have their red lips and accompanying tongue. Daft Punk has its fashionable space suits. Iron Maiden has Eddie. But few artists boast an aesthetic that pervades everything they do as completely as Manchester’s Mr. Scruff, whose comical illustrations of potato-shaped characters join him in every aspect of his career. Almost all of his music videos, event flyers and album covers sport a stocky Scruff-penned stick figure deejaying, drinking tea or eating a pie.
“A gentle lightheartedness never goes amiss,” says Mr. Scruff, who spoke via phone from home before heading out for a string of dates in Europe and the U.S. “It sort of disarms people to help me get away with playing some odd, specialist music. It’s all about balance, and the humor helps balance out a lot of the bearded nerdiness that is necessary for what I do.” He’s referring not to his few days’ worth of stubble but the pseudo-scholarly musical dissertations of his DJ sets. Though nerdiness applies to him just fine: “I never spent a lot of money on clothes,” he says. “I always spent my money on records, so I was pretty untidy for quite a few years.”