New direction for Fatboy Slim

January 21, 2016 – 11:45PM

by Andrew Drever


Fatboy Slim seeks out the simple pleasures of sharing great new music. Photo: Ben Chenoweth

Sideways is the direction Norman Cook wants his career heading these days. For many years, Cook’s (aka DJ-producer Fatboy Slim) DJ gigs, music and life were becoming bigger, better, faster, harder and more ambitious.

There were momentous, iconic occasions, like the massive Big Beach Boutique events in his home town of Brighton, England, DJ-ing in front of 350,000 crazy Brazilians at Flamengo Beach in Rio de Janeiro, and performing atop a double-decker bus at the London Olympics in 2012.

“It’s not so much the big gigs for me nowadays,” laughs the always affable Cook. “It’s the really stupid, interesting ones that turn me on now.”

After more than 30 years as a DJ, Cook, 52, is no longer interested in an upward trajectory. He says two things keep him fresh, energised and enthusiastic: the young, new fans who are constantly regenerating and the simple pleasure of sharing new music.

“When you find that gem, I still get that innocent joy and same genuine enthusiasm that I love this tune and all I want to do is play it to everyone else,” he says. “There’s also this endless supply of young people who want to get high and laid and escape life and kick out the jams. I feed off their enthusiasm. It never gets jaded, because there’s always a fresh supply of new blood.”

One of the most famous and ever-enduring party DJs in dance music, Cook lists his highlights of last year as playing at infamous London artist Banksy’s Dismaland (“a sort of the antithesis of Disneyland”), launching his Smile High Club concept at UK festivals and organising a giant human smiley face formation with 2000 ravers at Creamfields.

This is the fifth time I’ve interviewed Cook, having even, on one memorable occasion in 2004, been to his home in the British seaside town of Hove, near Brighton, to interview him for the Palookaville album launch. Cook is always charming, sincere and down to earth, with a roguish wit and endearingly self-deprecating habit of blowing up any perceived momentary pomposity.

His Smile High Club DJ mixes on his website reveal he is still the laughing, party-obsessed, none-too-serious, acid-house ringmaster. When asked what’s changed since we last saw him in Australia (in 2012), even he finds it hard to describe his style.

“Four years ago, I was still flirting with playing the odd EDM tune,” he says. “That’s now completely gone. I’ve gone back to the sort of banging acid-house party thing that I’ve always done. I’ve kind of always been sort of halfway between the underground and the overground, halfway between commercial and being a bit naughtier. When I’m going through Beatport to try and find new tunes, there’s all these categories – techno, tech-house, deep-house – and I don’t fit into any of them. I have to go through all of the categories to find the one record I like that’s in between the categories.”

For many years, Cook was also churning out hit records under a variety of names (Beats International, Freak Power, Pizzaman and, of course, Fatboy Slim). The1998 album, You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby and 2000’s Halfway between the Gutter and the Stars went to number one and number eight respectively on the UK charts, but 2004’s Palookaville and 2008’s I Think We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat (the latter released as Brighton Port Authority), saw diminishing returns.

His most recent Fatboy Slim single, Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat, is now three years old. So, while there are movie soundtrack collaborations with actor/musician Idris Elba (The Wire) in the pipeline, Cook says not to expect a Fatboy Slim album anytime soon.

“I had a passion to make a certain style of music and then one day I didn’t have that passion anymore,” he says. *After 30 years in the business, I don’t feel like I have to put an album out just for the sake of it. Right now, my interests have been elsewhere, rather than making stupid dance music, which is what Fatboy Slim is synonymous with.”

Fatboy Slim plays at the Australia Day Beach Barbecue at Riva, St Kilda Beach, on Tuesday, January 26.


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