Stoney Roads were fortunate enough to have a fifteen minute chat with the man, the legend and one of our personal heroes Fatboy Slim, a.k.a Norman Cook. No introduction is necessary for this dance music icon and DJ pioneer. On the agenda – we delve into his latest gastronomic venture and food in general; that time he played at the House of Commons in English Parliament; we discuss the future of dance music – in particular the influence the internet has played in shaping the success of certain tracks and that dreaded term ‘EDM’. Much love.
Fatboy Slim: Hey how the fuck are you?
Stoney Roads: Hey! So it’s nightime over there in the UK…Have you had dinner yet?
I have had dinner! Have you had breakfast?
SR: Well I ran out of cereal so I’m eating like half a banana… that will hopefully fuel my day.
Yeah yeah, bananas are good! Bananas are good…fuel.
SR: Speaking of dinner, how’s your new fish and chip venture going in Brighton?
Oh yeah, the café is fantastic. It’s kind of like a like a little clubhouse down the road for my kids and all the kids down the street and the skaters. We did a Boiler Room there a couple of weeks ago. My best mate runs it – it’s like our little café clubhouse. We do the occasional party – but only very occasional.
SR: So is it a bit of a hangout area during your downtime?
Yeah, well it’s literally in the park just down the road from my house, which is one of the reasons it’s been so dear, cause my kids play there and it’s a community sort of thing. I’ve got my more gastronomic ventures, but this is really just a community café that’s ours.
SR: Have you placed any special recipes on the menu? Or anything you suggest to customers that you’ve created in particular?
No, no, no, I sit on the other side of the fence. Me mate Danny is the chef. We do a lovely Aberdeen Angus burger – which is a big favourite – and the squid is quite good. But it’s more about very good coffee and internet and hanging out with the skaters and the kids in the park, than it is a gastronomic event. It has all me pictures on the walls, which is one thing.
SR: Awesome! In March last year you played in the House of Commons in Parliament? How was playing there? Can you describe what the mood was like playing there and how it came about?
Well, words cannot explain or describe how weird it was, and how right it felt… yet wrong at the same time! It was right in that, I believe it was 19 years ago, the Criminal Justice Bill that was trying to outlaw house music and raving and everything we stood for was suggested. For us to finally worm our way into being invited to play felt like a triumph to bring the Smiley Face into the House of Commons. Playing for some of our mates – who wore suits to mark the occasion – and MP’s who’d only just finished work, it felt like playing at a wedding with no alcohol! Not the most full on raving crowd I’ve ever played for. I kind of got them in the end.
SR: Were there any standout members in the crowd getting right into it?
There were a couple by the end of it who were into it and loosened up somewhat– slipped their ties off and were showing off a bit of Dad wedding dancing. But I’m not going to name names because I don’t want to end up in the Tower of London.
SR: The single ‘Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat’ – were you expecting it to have the success it did in 2013?
I think sort of… only because I’d been dropping that sample into my live set for about a year beforehand and everyone seemed to be reacting to it. It sort of went viral, with kids hashtagging it and making t-shirts with the slogan before we’d even released the record. So we figured something was up ans the we’d struck a chord with the slogan. But to turn that into a pop hit was the icing on the cake.
SR: What’s your take on the viral effect of ‘Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat’ – it can kind of be categorised in the same vein as ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ – is that something special for you?
Yeah! For it to be taken like ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’… (it’s a ‘MEME’ apparently, is the official title for it, where somebody takes a slogan and then it gets distorted and taken out of its original position)… I love that! I think it’s really good fun. I think it’s more fun than having a certified chart hit or hear it on the radio. It’s more fun to see that slogan going around the world and making banners and t-shirts and painting it on the walls at gigs. I found that more exciting than having a hit record.
SR: Is this something you’d incorporate for future songs you’re making?
Well I had that slogan floating for a few years. There’s always little post-it notes around my office with slogans. But one as good as that only comes around once every few years. Also, I don’t think it’s something you can force – you can’t make things go viral. You can’t hype things like you can a record or a video. Things like that just happen and you don’t know where they’re coming from. If you look at Harlem Shake, you go, “what was that all about?” You have no idea how people are going to take it and run with it. It keep things fresh in the commercialisation of the music industry.
SR: Having run Southern Fried Records for many years and seeing the change of songs and the ability for them to go viral, what do you expect to rise in 2014? Do you think a new genre will emerge? Or will it be more of a take on the social media element of music?
I really don’t know. I would have thought as a music journalist. As muso’s we just try to be involved in it. I don’t know if you’ve heard about that selfie record – but that’s someone trying to force a ‘meme’ on us. I don’t think that’s going to work where you crossover and try and imitate what goes viral or what teenager’s do and try to bottle it and sell it back to them. I think teenagers are wiser than that. I think there will be that continued cross-pollination that produced dub-step – where one style will have a bastard son with another – and you end up with the sum of the parts.
SR: Like deep-house and dub-step… something like that?
Yeah, dub-stow or trap….er….pop. (Haha) But that’s the other thing about dance music – it takes on all these sort social or cultural or musical ideas and mashing them all together. So the next big thing will be the next bastard son of whatever there has been before.
SR: Loaded question – what’s your take on the term ‘EDM’?
Errrrmmmmmm… A very accurate description of what I do for a living, that has kind of been hijacked by the people who make ‘PDM’ – ‘Pop Dance Music’. The phenomenon of it worldwide, I’m not going to be sniffy about, because as a DJ and someone who makes that kind of music it’s fantastic how a new generation of kids are getting into it and getting as excited about it as I did when I was that age. So, on the one hand it’s a very accurate description, but it’s also been hijacked.
SR: As a pioneer of dance music, are there any new producers out there that are catching your eye at the moment?
My mind just goes blank when you ask questions like that. Ummmm… no. No would be the easy answer.
SR: Is there anyone on Southern Fried that we should take note of?
I’ve got high hopes for Sonny Wharton – but he’s on Skint, not Southern Fried – he’s going to do big things…You’ve given me the perfect opportunity to plug things on my label, but my minds gone so blank I can’t even remember who’s on my label besides The 2 Bears! It’s like when someone asks you what’s your favourite record and your mind just goes completely blank.
SR: Well the next few questions I was going to ask you might draw some more blanks, cause they’re finish the sentence type questions, but we’ll see how it goes. So the first one is – The first vinyl I bought was…
Rubber Bullets by 10cc.
SR: The first CD bought was…
Oooo….Ummm… No…No…You’ve got me on that one. I think it might have been the Underworld album.
SR: If my life were a movie, my character would be played by…
Keifer Sutherland – just because of the uncanny, striking, physical resemblance… in my mind.
SR: My biggest music guilty pleasure is…
The Beatles… or have I got nothing to be guilty of? Actually, no, it’s Pre-War Blues, like Snoop Teague or Brian Boy Fuller. That’s where the name Fatboy Slim came from. If you were a fat Blues singer you’d get called Slim – Memphis Slim, Pinetop Slim, Bumblebee Slim – and Fatboy Slim is the fat Blues singer who can’t exist.
SR: And last but not least, the greatest meal of my life was…
Noma in Copenhagen, for my birthday last year.
What did this meal entail?
The highlights included Moss infused with Cep mushrooms; a cheese ball with a fish poking through it and sticking out either end; and ants!
SR: Thanks for chatting with us!