Fatboy Slim, aka Norman Cook, recently announced a seven-date Ibiza residency with Cream @ Amnesia, beginning on June 30, and stage headline sets at Bestival and Creamfields this summer. NME caught up with the ‘Praise You’ DJ at Snowbombing Festival to talk Idris Elba’s singing voice, Simon Cowell’s rubbish ‘X Factor for DJs’ idea, and the inevitable demise of EDM.
Hello Norman! You’ve been saying for years that EDM is going to “crash and burn”. Have you heard that Avicii’s just retired?
“Maybe this is the beginning of my prophecy finally coming true, four years after I predicted it! No, I’m not the only person who’s said it, it just felt like it had got too commercial and too about money. When something’s based on that rather than a genuine love of music, you worry about what’s propping it up. And if it’s just propped up by money then if people start losing money then they’re gonna run a mile, whereas I’m in this for life. If the money ran out I would just carry on doing it.
“I wasn’t predicting it because I wanted it to happen – I’m just worried that this lovely thing that we’ve built may have been taken over by people who wanted to make money out of it, and worried about the stability of it all. But it seems to still be going.”
So Avicii’s latest move isn’t a sign then?
I don’t know. I’m not making any more predictions after my last prediction didn’t come true. Everybody keeps asking me about it, but also it makes me seem like I was willing it, that I wanted it to go wrong, and that’s not true at all.
That sounds like a good attitude. What about Simon Cowell’s ‘X Factor for DJs’ palaver?
[It was scrapped by Yahoo in 2015, three years after it was originally canned. Fatboy Slim said he and other DJs had told Simon Cowell to ‘fuck off’ when approached]
“I heard Simon Cowell had moved on. I just don’t think it works as a format. What DJs do can’t be done in a two-minute slot on TV. You’ve got to be immersed in it and you’ve got to watch for at least an hour to really get into what you’re doing. I just think format-wise it doesn’t work, it’s not a competitive sport what we do. And it just doesn’t translate well on TV.
“I’ve been offered TV shows and I’m like, ‘What would I do?’, and they’re like, ‘Just DJ for three minutes’, and I’m like, ‘What can you do in three minutes?’ Unless you’re like a turntablist, there’s no way you can really get it across on TV.”
Are you still doing anything with David Byrne?
“No, but the show [Here Lies Love] continues to run in different places around the world. I’ve just done something with Idris Elba for his next film, which is quite interesting. I don’t know if it’s under wraps so I don’t want to get in trouble by saying too much. It’s called Bastille Day, and we’ve written a song together, and Idris sings on it which is fun.
How did that come about?
I’ve seen him DJ many times, that’s how we ended up knowing each other. We share the same management so we’re often on the bill together, and that’s how we became pals.
Are you excited for your Ibiza residency?
It’s long-awaited. The last time I thought about it seriously was at a time when I was partying quite hard and the idea of spending the whole summer in Ibiza probably would have killed me. So I never did it, I would always just dip my toe in, I always go out there for two weeks for family holiday.
“I always play for so many different friends who run different nights – I like ‘sleeping around’ rather than being monogamous – but I played at Cream, Amnesia a couple of times last year and it went really well. They asked me just at the point when I was like ‘You know what, this is probably the last chance I’ll have to actually do a proper residency’, so it’s gonna be fun.”
What DJs are you excited about at the moment?
Right now I’m excited about Hannah Wants because I’m going to see her straight after this, and she’s my favourite DJ at the moment. I really love the way she plays. I love the music she plays, but I love the way she plays it.
Are you producing music for anyone?
“Not really, I’ve been messing around with some film stuff. That’s kind of what’s turning me on at the moment. But the DJing just takes up most of my year.”
What kind of film stuff?
“Just film stuff.”
But what kind of films?
Ok. How about Bestival then? You’re headlining the Spaceport, a new stage, right?
“It’s… I dunno if it’s a whole new stage. I know it’s moved and it’s not a boat [HMS Belfast] any more. And it’s space-themed but I haven’t seen any drawings.”
Do you know why it’s space-themed?
“No… do you? You look like you know.”
“You’d have to delve into Robbie [Gorham, aka Rob Da Bank]’s fevered imagination to find out where that one came from. No, it’s not been explained to me, I just do what I’m told. I put on the suit.”
Speaking of suits, have you managed to get out on the Snowbombing slopes this year?
“No, no no.”
Do you not enjoy that side of the festival?
“Uhh… I sort of do. I have skied, and I can ski but I’m not mad for it, and if I slipped and twisted my ankle or sprained my wrist or something it would just cock the whole idea of me being here up, so yeah… never mix business with pleasure!”
What’s your experience of Snowbombing then?
“It’s very much a gang. It’s one of those festivals where people go year in, year out. And there’s probably people who’ve been every year for 15 years. So yeah, it’s very, very friendly and a lot of the acts play year after year, which is rare for a festival. There’s a kind of kindred gang spirit of lunatics and ne’er-do-wells, a lot of whom have the capacity to ski by day and party by night, night after night, which is quite an intense experience. The atmosphere is not like most festivals, which is why I keep coming back.”