ZA@Play – Marrying music and football [South Africa] (30 Nov 2007)

Athos Kyriakides catches up with up with Fatboy Slim ahead of his scheduled tour of South Africa

Fatboy Slim, also known as Norman Cook, is very much a product of the Nineties, but his appeal has not diminished since he broke on to the music scene as one-third of the acid house hit-makers, Pizzaman. He moved on to focus on his current incarnation, Fatboy Slim, which began with a trio of singles and the full-length album, Better Living through Chemistry.

He has written the music for a musical, won a Grammy and churned out an impressive five albums, including his most recent effort, Why Try Harder: The Greatest Hits. His raucous blend of house, acid, funk, hip-hop, electro and techno have added to his formidable reputation as one of the foremost all-around producers on the scene. When he threw his Big Beach bash in Rio, Brazil, last year, a staggering 360 000 people turned up.

Fatboy Slim will visit South Africa this December courtesy of the Coaching for Hope initiative. The charity uses football to empower young people in the developing world by making them aware of the dangers of HIV/Aids. Already active in Mali and Burkina Faso, Coaching for Hope is expanding its programme to South Africa ahead of the 2010 World Cup. He will also perform at the third H2O party of the year at Wild Waters in Boksburg too.

I caught up with Cook ahead of his scheduled tour of South Africa.

How you are involved with Coaching for Hope?

I am the charity’s patron, which basically means I provide a public face for the charity. I use my celebrity status to raise awareness and funds.

The charity uses football to empower disadvantaged youths. Was that what initially appealed to you about it?

Yes. I became involved because I am a director of Brighton and Hove Albion, who play their football in the English first division. Brighton started the charity.

How does the charity work?

We do about four programmes a year. We went to Mali in Africa last year, which was a real success. I thought it would be nice to come to South Africa because you are kind of warming up for the next World Cup. When I went to Mali there was no infrastructure for me to play gigs, whereas in South Africa I can promote the charity and perform live as well. I’ve been to your country before and I’ve always had a good time.

I understand that you’ve had a role to play at the last two World Cups?

Well I am the official DJ of the English Football Association, which means I get to perform for England fans at football tournaments all over the world. I went to Portugal for Euro 2004 and I was in Japan for the World Cup in 2002. It gives the English fans something to do and keeps them out of trouble.

That sounds like the perfect life?

Absolutely. I hope to do the same when South Africa hosts in 2010, so I suppose there is a kind of altruistic motive in there, but the main reason I’m coming is to raise awareness about and money for Coaching for Hope. We’re using the medium of football coaching to educate people about HIV/Aids.

Why the name “Fatboy Slim”?

I used to like old blues singers like Bootsy Collins and Bo Weasel Jackson. If you were a fat blues singer you were called Slim. There were Memphis Slim, Pine Top Slim and Bumblebee Slim. So it’s an oxymoron. A, I’m not a blues singer, B, I’m not fat, and C, you can’t be a fat boy and slim. So it just kind of stuck.

It seems as though you’re able to tap into youth culture in your music. Why is that?

I am not sure if my demographic is that young any more. I think it is probably because my mental age is about 15, although Tony Blair used Right Here Right Now at the last election. Some old people like it and it gets played at football matches a lot. In fact, those are my greatest moments when the teams come out to a football match and they play it. It makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

Wild Waters will set the scene for the third H2O party of the year when H2O presents “On The Beach” with Fatboy Slim and Chris Lake; an Aids awareness fundraiser. Tickets are available through Computicket.


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