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Here we are with one of the biggest exports to come out of the UK. It was our third time lucky in reaching Norman Cook, who was more than happy to talk to us about his new live album, past tours of Australia, and the current state of the music industry.
Big Beach Bootique 5 marks the latest release for Fatboy Slim. The live CD/DVD is the first series of concerts to occur at AMEX Stadium, home of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club. It is held very close to Norman, and he explains what it means to him: “It was a boy’s own dream. After playing the shows on the beach in my hometown, it was just a feeling of pride that a local boy made good. To upstage and do it in the football stadium, because I’m an Albion fan, is a special kind of pride in where you come from and where you live. It’s the stuff that boyhood dreams are made of.”
Fatboy Slim is one of the most notable DJs in the world. 2012 alone has seen him perform at the London Olympics, Tomorrowland, and Future Music Festival. He tells us how he has taken all the success: “I’ve never taken myself that seriously. I just thank whoever it is that I’ve been allowed to have a career all this time, doing something I love. I’m always thankful that I am always invited to the table. If you base a career on ‘thank f**k I’m still doing a job I love’, it is quite easy to be humble about it.”
One of Norman’s largest sources of income is royalties from synchronisation. Perfect examples of this include The Rockafeller Skank, used in FIFA ’99, and Right Here, Right Now, used in a number of television commercials. He explains, “On the one hand, it is the only way really to make money out of music these days because record sales and downloads do not create an income like they did in the old days. The only way musicians can survive is by live shows and by syncs in films, adverts and video games. I was particularly chuffed because my son is eleven years old… He has never been hugely impressed by what I do, but when I was on FIFA ’13, he was like “Yes, Dad! Yes!”
Earlier in the year, he performed alongside Swedish House Mafia in Australia. The trio are currently on their ‘One Last Tour’ saying goodbye to the world. With opinions raised, we asked Fatboy Slim what he thought of it all: “I’ve got a lot of respect for them, but musically they are a bit more commercial than what I do. To a lot of people they are kind of synonymous with dance music. At the same time, they love what they do and they are passionate about what they do and they’re very successful, and that opens doors for all other DJs. I think for underground DJs who are really sniffy about them, and think they just behave like superstars, their hearts are definitely in the right place.
Norman gave some advice for up-and-coming DJs: “Remember it is all about the crowd having fun and dancing. It is not about you wanking off with how much technology you have. Don’t be staring down at your laptop, be looking up at the crowd and entertaining them.”
The current state of dubstep was brought to his attention, particularly Skrillex. “I love Skrillex! The first time I met Skrillex, he just came right up to me really drunk and said, “You’re the reason I started DJing.” I have a lot of pride in things like that. He really reminds me of myself fifteen years ago and I think he is very talented. He is talented enough to know that dubstep will not be around forever. Dubstep has been the new kid on the block for the last couple of years. There is a time with all kinds of music – drum ‘n’ bass, big beat or anything – where once it starts getting on the serial adverts, it is watered down and not new and different at all anymore, so I think Skrillex will probably be around long after dubstep.”
He then told us where he thinks the music industry is headed: “A continual cross combination of whatever crazy mix they haven’t done yet…some Latin break beat (laughs). The best records at the moment are more Deep House. Jamie Jones, Solomun and stuff like that. I think the cooler heads now think ‘dubstep, that’s just TV commercial stuff. Muse are doing it now, so we’ll move onto something a bit cooler’.”
Before he ventured into a career as Fatboy Slim, Norman Cook was a bass player in several bands; two of those scored UK number 1 hits. Regarding his change of profession, he explained, “I realised that I was happier and better at DJing than I was playing in a band. Time told me that I am a better DJ than I am a bass player and I enjoy it more. When I started out there was no career as a DJ. DJs were just people who played in their local nightclubs, and we didn’t travel the world, and we didn’t have hits on the radio, so that wasn’t an option really. If you wanted a career in the music business, you had to be in a band. If there was such a thing as a superstar DJ in music when I started out, I would’ve gone straight for that.”
He then explained how Australia compares to the world when he performs a set in front of our audience: “Aussie crowds are never shy wherever they are, whether it is big or small. They are always quite vocal and animated. Aussie festivals have a particular kind of craziness because the weather is good and there is a tradition at festivals where you go a bit mental. Whereas festivals in England, you have to carry a coat with you and have your wits about you to cope with the weather. Aussies chill and let it go at festivals. In a club, you wouldn’t notice so much, but when you’re playing at something like Future Music or Big Day Out, you really know you’re in Australia.”
Fatboy Slim hinted at a return to Australia in the beginning of 2014.