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Late Nite Tuff Guy Interview: Tuff Talking

The iconic king of edits revealed personal issues and his embodiment of "musical perfection" in a telling conversation with Marko Kutlesa.

Becca Frankland

Last updated: 13th Jul 2016

Image: Late Nite Tuff Guy

Late Nite Tuff Guy is regarded as one of the premier re-editors operating in the field. An Australian from Adelaide, Cam Bianchetti's releases under this moniker are not his first forays into music, with a past that stretches back to the 90s.

Late Nite Tuff Guy tickets.

He had an earlier career as a producer of techno and house using the name HMC. Back then he was regarded as one of the leading lights on the Australian techno scene and some of his records crossed over into international territories - not least the pulsating 'Marauder' (above).

A fear of flying curtailed his advancement as an international representative of techno at the turn of the century and after that he took a break from music entirely, both producing and as a DJ (he had held a residency in his home city for many years). In interviews since his successful re-emergence as Late Nite Tuff Guy about a decade ago he alluded to personal problems having influenced his time away from music, although prior to this interview he has not spoken publicly about them.

Thankfully the difficulties he faced in sustaining his earlier musical career have now been overcome. Cam has made up for lost time and has since re-made many songs from the disco and house era and turned new ears on to them.

He has recorded extensively for the Dessert Island Discs re-edit imprint and for his own Tuff Cut label. He now DJs internationally and has been recognised as a producer in his own right, recently having been asked to remake New Order and Herb Alpert's 'Rise', both of which are forthcoming.

During his current European tour, we caught up for a sincere and honest talk about Cam's life, career and music prior to his double header of Bank Holiday appearances at Area Sheffield and a Pop Up Party at The Riverbank Bar And Kitchen in Nottingham on Sunday 28th August.

Cam! How are you and where are you?

Hi! I'm good. I'm in a cold, grey London right now.

Oh, don't worry, you'll soon be back home and it's winter there now, isn't it?

Yeah, and it's probably warmer than it is here.

How did you first discover your fear of flying? How does it manifest itself? 

The first time I went on a plane was in 1980. I was 16 years old at the time and I was going on holiday to Italy with my parents. I remember it distinctly because it was my first holiday in Europe. As much as I loved it over there I remember leading up to getting on the plane, I remember feeling anxious and not easy with the whole thing. I remember starting to cry, I was that scared. So, I guess it's always been with me.

But I toured throughout the 90s, in Europe and Australia but then I stopped in 1999 after a flight coming back from Tokyo to Sydney. There was so much turbulence on the plane it literally felt like I was in a washing machine. It was so bad. When I got home I thought, I'm not ever getting on a plane again. And I didn't for about 10 years. 

What do you do to keep it under control now?

I do a lot of breathing. I still get anxious. I think the thing that really gets me through it is knowing where I'm going. It's going to be amazing, I'm going to play some great music and people are going to be loving it. There's going to be a whole lot of love out there. That gets me through. I love to play music so I'm not going to let this fear control me. 

You mentioned you stopped flying. You also took a hiatus from producing between the last of your initial HMC releases and the re-emergence of yourself as LNTG. In one piece I read it said you were frustrated with production. What was it specifically that you were frustrated by?

Well, I guess a lot of it is quite personal. There are some things I probably wouldn't talk about, but I guess I don't mind saying that the main problem was that I had a gambling problem for many years. I don't now, I'm happy to say. That, like any addiction, affects your life in so many ways. I stopped Djing because I wanted to stop the money coming in.

If you want to put that in the interview I guess it's ok, although I've never actually said it before. 

When I read you were frustrated with production I presumed you may have had something like writer's block or you were frustrated with the limitations of the equipment you had.

I think a lot of that came from the addiction to gambling. I became a very different person, so I focused on that and not on music or wanting to DJ. That's really where the problem came from. I'm glad that I've overcome it, for sure. 

What's aspects of travelling, DJing and making music have replaced that rush, that high which was previously part of your life?

That's a hard question to answer. I'm not really sure. In 2005 I came to realise that I could have anything in the world and I could do anything in the world if I just got rid of this addiction. I'm not sure if that answers your question or not though. 

Did re-editing instead of composing from scratch offer a way for you to re-enter music?

The thing about re-editing is that it's pretty easy to do. I think if you have a flair for music, for producing music for dancers, then re-editing can be a lot of fun and really creative. When I finally went back to Djing I wanted to play some different music, I didn't want to play just house and techno, I wanted to play disco. And I wanted to be able to mix it how I mixed.

Is there anyone you really like but whose work you wouldn't touch for the reason that you think it's perfect or you revere them too much? 

Prince. Even though I already did a record of his, 'Controversy', which I think I did an amazing edit of, it always gets a great response every time I play it. But I probably wouldn't touch any of his other work. Because for me, he is perfection. His music is perfection. 

Adelaide is not known as the centre of the world for music and Djing. You must have felt at times limited in what you could achieve there, yet you continued to live there. Why?

I guess I live there because I have good friends there, my family is there, my parents and my brothers and sister. It is a good place and I remember in the late 80s and early 90s it was a very creative, artistic place, full of people who loved the same kind of music as I did.

It's still a great place, but it is a small city, we don't have a big scene. It doesn't have the reputation that a city like, say, Melbourne does have. But I do love Adelaide, it's been really good to me. 

Is the way you edit disco in any way influenced by the use of disco in either hip hop or house, say, like, Chicago house, where producers take one particularly strong section and loop it to make a new track?

If I remember back to that house music of the mid to late 90s, stuff like DJ Sneak was doing, I loved that shit. It was really cool. But I think now it would maybe sound a little bit boring to have just that repetitive loop. I mean, I do like repetition, I like being hypnotised by that and getting into a zone, but sometimes I get a little bored and I want to bring in the original track or part of it just to lift it up, to break it up. 

In your earlier days as HMC who were the best DJs operating in the house and techno fields that you heard play and who did you build links with?

Well, Richie Hawtin was definitely one of the first people we were in contact with. We brought him out to Australia many years ago, in the beginning of Plus 8 records. He's an amazing DJ. So, people like him, Jeff Mills, Derrick May. These are amazing DJs.

Have you maintained any of those links in your career as LNTG?

Not really. I played alongside Robert Hood quite a few times in recent years. He's an amazing producer. But I haven't seen Jeff for a long time and I'd like to. He still makes incredible music. And I haven't seen Derrick for ages, but we've played together over the years many times. 

How do you feel about continuing your work as HMC now?

I have tried to make some techno and house. I released an album in 2012, which I love a lot. It didn't sell very well but I still think it is a great album.

It's hard. I think it goes back to the time I did have that break, I sold all my hardware equipment. It was hard for me to make techno music with just a computer. I got really frustrated with that, so that's pretty much why I stopped. Even now it's still kinda difficult. 

Who are your favourite disco producers?

I love Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards. They are just incredible. I love Giorgio Moroder, he's a big influence. Especially the earlier stuff, the electronic stuff. 

I read somewhere that the first 12” you bought was 'Dance, Dance, Dance'. What is it that you like so much about Chic?

Nile's guitar playing and Bernard's bass, they just get it together so well. They sync in perfect harmony, it's a beautiful sound. That's probably the thing that I like the most. Nile plays the guitar like no-one else.

If we're talking modern disco and in regards to your contemporaries, who are your favourite re-editors?

I've been a fan of The Revenge for a long time. I love what he does, although I'm not sure if he does many edits these days. I also like Todd Terje. I saw him just the other day when I was in Dublin. His edits are awesome.

And I love what The Reflex is about as well, although I'd say that his are more like remixes rather than re-edits because he uses the original stems. 

Have you heard much of the work of your fellow Australian Dr Packer?

Of course. Greg does some great work as well. I'm hoping to catch up with him when he comes over to Europe. 

How do you feel about being asked to remix New Order? Do you ever feel intimidated by the standing of any of the artists whose productions you work on? 

Yeah, when we got the initial e mail about New Order I was like, fuck, this is amazing. I then got quite scared and thought, shit, I really have to do something here. I can't just fuck around with an old disco track, not that I do that anyway!

I was so happy that they asked me to do that. I was scared, but I think I did a great job. Well, I know I did a great job. 

After the release of the New Order mix, what's next for Late Nite Tuff Guy?

Well, there's the 'Rise' remix for Herb Alpert. His management approached me and asked me to remix that, which was awesome. That's being released this month as well as the New Order track. There's a big project coming up with a major label, I can't really say too much about it right now. It'll be a full album of remixes of classic songs. I can't go into detail but I'm really looking forward to that. 

And hopefully I can get this original bloody Late Nite Tuff Guy album finished. I've got lots of tracks that are not quite finished, they're almost done. Some of it will be sample based, but I want it to have more of an original sound rather than just focus on edits. 

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