Norman Cook was originally known as being the bassist for the House Martins, but was also instrumental in the development of UK Hip Hop as the man behind Beats International and with his seminal DJ Mix The Finest Ingredients it was possible to see how his music career would develop. Re-incarnated as Fatboy Slim, Norman Cook has become a mega-star DJ known around the world. We caught up with him at the Boardmasters Festival, so read on to find out what he had to say…
How are you enjoying Newquay so far?
Norman Cook: I’ve not been here long, but I’m enjoying it as fully as you can just being here to work.
Have you been here before?
Norman Cook: I have been here but not often. I came here surfing a few years ago.
Oh, so you do surf then?
Norman Cook: I did… I did once yeah, I came here surfing about five years ago but I haven’t actually played a gig in Newquay or Cornwall for about ten years so it’s all new to me. [So you don’t surf then?]
This festival has been going for a few years and has been coming on strong. I think it’s a great venue for a festival. What do you think to the Boardmasters in terms of location?
Norman Cook: Yeah, I love a good beach.
Yesterday I saw someone dressed as only what I could describe as a gold shiny space gimp. What’s the strangest thing that you’ve ever seen at a festival?
Norman Cook: Oh I thought you said what the strangest thing that I’ve ever worn. The two are the same actually. One year at Glastonbury, I went on the stage wearing my normal gig clothes and played about three records, took my trousers off, then put a pair of tights on and played a few more records. After that I took my top off and eventually, slowly morphed into a bumble bee. By the end of it I had a balaclava with bee boppers coming out of the top. Actually it was a girl bumble bee. As my wife pointed out at the end of it, it was a female bumble bee. So yeah, changing slowly into a bumble bee while I was deejaying. That’s, for me, fairly bizarre.
Growing up, I was a big fan of Johnny Ball. What’s it like to have him as a father-in-law?
Norman Cook: It’s weird because I meet tonnes of people that say things like that. The thing is, when I was a kid, there were two kinds of schools of thought. You were either were interested in science and there were people like Johnny that tried to make science interesting, or you’re like “oh that’s like school, I don’t want to learn any more”. So I was never really a fan. I don’t want people to tart up and make science interesting for me. I want to watch football. So hence, we talk a lot more about football than we do about science. It’s weird because I’m not in awe of him because I’m not a huge fan of his particular thing but he’s a fantastic father-in-law to have and he’s a very funny man.
What are you playing on your iPod at the minute, what are you favourite tracks? Yours or somebody else’s.
Norman Cook: Erm, my mind always goes completely blank when people ask that. Erm, CW Stonebridge. There’s this Australian blues singer who sounds like he’s from the 1930’s called CW Stonebridge and I just discovered him and yeah I really like old blues. That’s where the name Fatboy Slim came from. See, I like blues singers and if you’re a fat blues singer you’re called “slim”. So yeah, that’s who’s. If I had an iPod that’s what I would be playing on it.
So you identify with the 1920’s…
Norman Cook: I don’t know if I identify with it. There was just something about the blues. Before they got drum kits and Eric Clapton and BB King, there was something that was just, like, there was something about the way they just played everything out. Anything played on a ukulele or a banjo and erm, without a drum kit. I don’t know, that’s just a sound I like.
Ok, so your tunes, What do you find that gets the most reaction from the crowd or what are your personal favourites to get going in a gig?
Norman Cook: Well, out of my tunes obviously, “Praise You”. I usually try to top and tail a set with that. I don’t know, for me “Right Here Right Now”, especially if you’re at a football match and you hear the teams come out to it. I still get hairs standing up on the back of my neck. So that’s quite powerful. But then, I like dropping bits of other peoples songs, we’ll see what I play tonight but dropping acapella’s of really famous songs is a particular favourite of mine.
Ok, that looks like we’ve run out of time. Thanks very much for that. Fantastic!
By: Kris Drew