While Tiesto and Armin van Buuren were still in their DJ swaddling, it was Fatboy Slim who first introduced the concept of the superstar DJ to the world.
His albums and music clips persist in this contemporary age as original works of art, from their structure, to the visuals, emotions and movement. Yes, UK DJ Norman Quentin Cook has come a long way, baby. He has forged a steady path in music, first finding success in the 1980s in rock bands before striking out on his own as a DJ. â€œI was actually a DJ before I was in bands. In those days, being a DJ was a hobby rather than a career. And then when dance music took off, I was finally making music I really love. At the end of the day, I feel I am a much better DJ than I am a bass player.â€
Fatboy Slim first came to the underground worldâ€™s attention from a burgeoning UK electronic scene that culminated in epic beach parties on Brightonâ€™s shores â€“ parties that remain the stuff of electronica legend. Itâ€™s from such days that his seamless sound of big beat steadily grew upon the world; a sound propelled by hits â€˜Praise Youâ€™ and â€˜Right Here, Right Nowâ€™. Such tunes are a foundation to todayâ€™s music â€” heâ€™s even responsible for a hit titled â€˜Dub Be Good To Meâ€™. But he confesses that the music of today confuses him too.
â€œI dunno if itâ€™s an age thing but I canâ€™t get my head around dubstep. I donâ€™t play dubstep in my set. It might be me getting old, but sometimes it just sounds like a load of scrunchy noises without a tune holding it together.â€
If thereâ€™s anything that holds Fatboy Slim together, it is wisdom. While there are indications heâ€™s been on a wild ride, at the end of the day, itâ€™s still all about the music. He may deviate from being a DJ with musicals alongside Talking Heads frontman David Byrne or conditioning his body for marathons, but he still comes back to DJing in front of epic crowds.
â€œI always come back to doing what I do: the bad-ass straight-ahead dance music. Iâ€™ve got a audio-visual show coming for Future,â€ he vouches. â€œIâ€™m more of a VJ these days. We write visuals first, and as I play the CDJs, that triggers the visuals. We have synced visuals which makes for a tighter show. Iâ€™ve always loved touring Australia â€” just getting back there and seeing the mental crowds you have there. Itâ€™s quite a nice line-up as well. Iâ€™m looking forward to hanging out with Swedish House Mafia.â€
As with every artist, his craft has come with sacrifices and suffering. Plagued with health issues and controversy, Fatboyâ€™s veneer has cracked under the struggle. â€œWhen Iâ€™m at home Iâ€™m Norman Cook,â€ he explains. â€œWhen I get on the road and put the Hawaiian shirt on, I turn into Fatboy. Norman is a good husband and a good dad. Fatboy, frankly, is an irresponsible party animal. But I faced my demons; beat them off with a stick. Iâ€™m happier, healthier and Iâ€™m doing a better job. Iâ€™ve been focused on my inner well being.â€
Accompanying mega stars Swedish House Mafia for the national Future Music Festival tour, we should expect a stage of huge personalities and huge big room sound. Certainly, Fatboy guarantees his trademark structured mayhem.
â€œSwedish House Mafia have got that huge big room commercial sound down pat but Iâ€™ll be wandering down a noisier, more raucous path ... itâ€™ll be the same full-on acid house party nonsense, really.
â€œIâ€™ve always got something to prove â€“ no one does it quite like me. Youâ€™ve got your young contenders like the SHM â€“ ultimate respect to them â€“ but I plan to give them a run for their money every night.â€
Fatboy Slim headlines Future Music Festival at Doomben Racecourse March 3. futuremusicfestival.com.au