Late Nite Tuff Guy: Up late practically every night…
Late Nite Tuff Guy is a favourite on the club scene, melding genres of dance music till the lines blur quicker than your vision after a few vodkas.
Roscoe Holyoake chats to the man about evolving genres in dance music, DJs with egos, and the fact that despite the ‘tuff’ moniker, he’s actually a softy at heart…
I’ve read your bio, and I must say, it’s probably one of the more entertaining of DJ profiles. So, are you really a “tuff guy”?
Ha ha ha, um, that’s funny because I am so not a tough guy! I’m a real softy, actually; really quite sensitive. But, you know, it’s probably what makes… well… how do I say this without sounding like a complete knob? I think it’s what makes me a good DJ, that I’m really sensitive to the things around me. Because of that I think I read people well when I’m DJ-ing; I think I read the dancefloor really well. I don’t know, I could be wrong but I think that’s how it works!
Some DJs possess a bit of an ego. Do you come across much ego when touring?
Do I come across it? Yeah. I’ve met some DJs and producers along the way that really do think they’re the be-all and end-all. I guess that’s always going to happen. I think it’s much nicer to remain quite humble and to be kind and respectful to people no matter who they are.
I would expect more of that ego to come out in EDM DJs or record producers…
Do you see much of it in disco?
I guess not as much as you see in EDM and maybe some of the techno producers… there’s always a bit of ego there.
I read somewhere that you’re afraid of flying. Is that true?
Yeah, I don’t like it. In fact I pretty much hate it. Really, I’m yet to meet someone who says they actually enjoy it. It’s an awful environment, apart from the fact that I have that fear, it’s really a claustrophobic and dirty environment. You know, going to the toilet, a toilet that’s used by a 100 other people. It’s all really disgusting, isn’t it?
Ha ha! I guess it is, but that has got to be part of the job now. You’re touring a fair bit, right?
Yeah, I’m pretty much on a plane every weekend, if not a couple of times a week. It’s what I do, and I get on board the plane and I grin and bare it. I like my job, I love my job, in fact it’s not really a job, and I will do what I have to do to keep going.
Do you have a job outside of what you do?
Good question, but no. A lot of people have asked me over the years what it is that you attribute your success to, and there are a lot of things. Obviously hard work and that sort of thing. But I’ve never really had a job except for DJ-ing, and I think the main thing to achieve success is to pretty much devote your life to whatever it is you want to do. As a teenager I was determined to be involved in the music industry and I wasn’t going to settle for anything else.
It seems like it might be a little harder these days, because everyone is a DJ, yeah?
Ha ha ha. Everyone is a DJ, yes, you’re right there. And I guess it is difficult, and I guess I was lucky that I had parents that supported me even though they didn’t get what I was doing for. They never discouraged me from doing it; never said “Go out and get yourself a real job” or anything like that. So I always had them to fall back on, and I could always move back home. There were many years that I had absolutely no money but I was not going to give up on what I wanted to do. So I was lucky I had my parents there.
So you’ve never worked?
Well, I worked in a supermarket for about two years, then I fell into my first DJ job. That was at the age of 19. I was playing in a gay pub in Adelaide; a really good place, actually, one of the best venues I’ve been in. It’s such a cool little pub that was open six nights a week. And I played 6 nights a week, earning I think $170 for the whole week. Very different from now, let me tell you! But it was a fun fun job, I loved it a lot.
Now, DJ-ing as Late Nite Tuff Guy and playing a lot of disco, do notice the blurring of the lines between disco and techno?
I think the edits I make as LNTG, some of them are quite hypnotic. If you listen to One Night In A Disco, that whole looping, especially in the beginning, is a techno kind of sound. Some of my techno tracks are loops of disco tracks that you wouldn’t really recognise as a disco track, so, yeah, it does blur.
There are a lot of edits being done of disco tracks from the ’70s and ’80s. Is disco still evolving?
Disco is changing. There’s the classic sound, and then you’ve got newish stuff, like the Daft Punk album, which was released a few years ago. I guess that would be a modern-day disco album because it really has a lot of the elements. So I guess disco is evolving.
What makes a good disco party?
A good crowd. Obviously good music, but you can’t have a good club or night without a good crowd to make up the major part of the night. If people aren’t up for it, it’s not really going to be a good party, is it?
Taking it into a queer context, do you think disco is still relevant on the queer scene?
When I think about DJ-ing overseas, I think of artists like Horse Meat Disco [Ed note: Interestingly, Joey Negro also highlights this club night]. They have a massive gay following there, and they’re into some really amazing disco music. So I think, yes, but maybe not so much in Australia. We have a small gay scene, a small techno scene, so it’s all a bit different.