Interviews — October 21, 2013 at 4:55 pm

Lo and Behold, It’s A Fatboy Slim Interview!


At midnight on a Friday in Macau’s cavernous Club Cubic, Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, is a bundle of positive energy. Whether it’s chemically enhanced or not, that’s hard to say. Then again, it could just be happy fatigue. On the nights before landing in the gambling mecca, he had played to audiences in Seoul, then Taipei. Despite the videos on YouTube of him playing before 40,000 in Miami, it’s clear by his demeanor that he’s more comfortable playing in clubs these days.

Once he goes on, it’s old school dance happiness. The sound is a bit off for a while, but the way Cook is dancing and gesturing at the crowd, he seems oblivious. Club Cubic is also more packed then it’s ever been, with the exception of say, Psy. The venue is awash in a time when good vibes, good vibrations and smiley faces were all the rage. Offstage, Cook is friendly, thoughtful, frank and as he approaches his 50th birthday, clearly glad he’s inspired what’s now become known as EDM. 

© Uri L. Schwarz ~

© Uri L. Schwarz ~

 So you’re a club guy then…

Fatboy Slim: Well that’s how I started. DJs didn’t play in arenas when I was a kid. I sort of bridge the gap between the enormous gigs and the clubs. I do both.


Let’s talk about what you feel you’ve contributed to the EDM scene of today. How do you feel you’ve evolved and what do you feel about this scene?

I feel like kind of a proud uncle who comes home at Christmas and goes “My, how you’ve grown!” I’m quite proud of my role in the story of how DJs started in nightclubs and then how they progressed from the radio to the idea of the superstar DJ. I think over the years I’ve contributed to building things and I took a few risks. 10 years ago, I was the first to play at big festivals, now I just feel like I’m part of the scene and am very proud at how it has grown. And, I’m quite chuffed that in terms of the new DJs that I meet, they say “Oh yeah! I grew up with your music!” So yes, I’m proud of how this industry has developed.


What can you do now with the studio set up, with the electronics and taking everything around the world that you couldn’t do before?

I’ll be honest with you. I’m quite baffled at times. When I started DJing, basically, you had two turntables and a box of records, and your job was to use them to entertain the crowd. Now, the possibilities of what you can do are so infinite that I find it a bit disconcerting. I supposed that’s the bad thing about being from the old school. The good thing is that I’ve watched this grow and I’ve been there for all the sort of major milestones. But sometimes I’m a little confounded by this. There’s too much choice and you can do anything you want with it. And sometimes I just feel “Aaaghhh.” So I gravitate towards keeping it as simple as possible. It’s good that I can use the visuals when I do a big production show. But the basis for a show, really, is young, drunk people. They are trying to get laid and trying to get happy and my job is to provide the soundtrack for that.


You’re quite content with that.

Yeah! That’s the one constant where I always know what I’m doing. You don’t need an awful lot of buttons and machinery to do that.


If we were to talk about a few albums or tracks that are mainstays or favorites of your set, what are they?

My mind goes blank if I have to name tunes…for me I come back to disco and acid house. I think of all the different genres of up-tempo dance music, they are the constants for me and they always push the buttons. Whenever you think people have wandered too far off the path, just come back with either disco-acid house or acid house-disco. And a tune for that? “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer.


Let’s talk about some of your achievements. You collaborated with some musicians in Cuba. Great experience?

Very great experience. Probably not my best achievement and the end result wasn’t hugely successful, but a very interesting thing to have done.


What are some of the other great experiences? You played at the Olympics, recorded with Iggy Pop…

Yeah! Recording with Iggy Pop…that goes down as a big achievement. The Olympics is a very proud moment. Because I was the only DJ at the closing ceremony, I felt that I was representing dance culture for Team GB and I think it was a fantastic thing to be part of.


Did you get chills up your spine? Did you get nervous?

Oh, it was every single emotion. I think I got beyond nerves by the end of it. Because we were all just thinking that this thing is so much bigger than any of us. But in terms of nerve wracking, standing wedged inside a van with Russell Brand’s ass right above me, waiting to go up in a hydraulic that might not work, to perform in front of the biggest audience of my life, inside an inflatable eight foot octopus which may or may not work…it was so nerve-wracking that you just couldn’t be nervous.


So Iggy Pop. Was he in the studio with you or did you transfer tracks?

No, we hung out! He came and stayed at my house. Having worked with David Byrne, Bootsy Collins, Iggy Pop…I can retire a happy guy after that. That’s all boxes ticked.


That’s great! How do you know when a track is working for you?

The studio has always been in my house. And if my female housemates, be they spouses or just flatmates—after hearing it for a day and a half—say “I really like that one,” then…especially if the bassline has been coming through the wall and they say “I found myself humming that bassline all day.” Then you know you’re onto a good thing. Girls only like music for the most innocent of reasons.


What’s the song that you’re proudest of? And what’s the song that you feel could have been a hit but got away?

I’m probably proudest of “Right Here, Right Now”, just because it probably sums up so many experiences; when you see a big football team come onto it, you get the same kind of goosebumps. Yes, it does have that epic quality. “(The BPA) Toe Jam” is the song that I thought should have been a hit.


Have there been moments where your music has appeared in a film and you thought “Wow, this is a real surprise!”

I’ve always loved film and the way that the soundtrack works with film. Take “Born Slippy” in Trainspotting: whenever you hear that song, you’re back in the film. For a bad example, take Ghost, where Demi Moore is doing the pottery and you hear “Unchained Melody”, same mechanics. I don’t think I’ve ever had a moment like that with my music. That’s probably one of the ambitions that I have yet to fulfill. I’ve done stuff for films, but I never really thought it reached that synergy. So that’s one thing I’ve yet to achieve. There’s a couple of commercials that I’m quite proud of, like the “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out” Levi’s ad. That was good. UK commercials are kind of famous for their soundtracks, and to do one there is quite an honor.


What ambitions do you still have?

Just the film, I think, as I pretty much ticked off all the other boxes. To work with a director. You know when you see a film like Paris, Texas and you think of Ry Cooder, Midnight Express and you think of Giorgio Moroder. It’s not like little bits of tunes from all over the place but scoring a whole film. That’s my ambition.


But have you been approached in that way?

I’ve been approached to do lots of films, but never something that I felt I wanted to focus eight months of my life on. If halfway through the film, you realize that it was a turkey, it would be dreadful. I’m waiting to do a good one.


How do you feel the scene has changed in Asia over the last few years?

The scene is fine, because of the worldwide phenomenon of EDM. There are a lot more kids getting into it. People are seeing a certain bit of it, which is the commercial end…bottle service and stuff like that. So my role is to drag them into other aspects of it, which isn’t about glamour and money.  And it’s quite weird to be here in a den of gambling. I just want to turn people on to see what the other scene is. There are other scenes you can get involved in!


You have 24 hours. You can go anywhere you want, do anything, see anything, eat anything. Where are we off to?

I think I’m actually doing it next month. I’m going truffle hunting in Italy. I’ll be amongst friends for my 50th birthday. They’re sending me out on a truffle hunt with a dog, apparently. That’s what I’d do.


Thank you.

Thank you!