Norman Cook’s big beat bangers span almost three decades. He’s played everywhere from a giant inflatable squid to the House of Commons. He’s a proper dance legend – and he’s coming back to London in August as one of the headliners at Clapham Common’s South West Four festival, alongside the long-awaited live return of Faithless. But Fatboy Slim’s Saturday night set won’t just be your average festival headline act: the superstar DJ has something special in store, as he tells us in an exclusive interview…
We hear you’ve got some news for us, Norm?
‘I’m heading back to South West Four to host my very own arena. Normally that means you just put up a bit of bunting, but we’re trying to take it further, so we invented the Smile High Club. We’re creating a movement called Random Acts of Smiles – it’s an excuse for some acid house smiley high jinks. The Smile High hostesses will be your stewards making sure you have a comfortable ride. The idea is to build some kind of rocket.’
And will you be spreading the Smile High love personally?
‘One of the Random Acts of Smiles is “Acid Converters” where myself and RYCA, an artist and smiley obsessive, are going to take objects that people give us and silly them up onsite. The first one is a scooter.’
I hear you’ve got a smiley on the roof of your house.
‘You can see it on Google Earth. I’ve got thousands of them and I’ve been collecting for 25 years.’
Which one’s your favourite?
‘I’ve got a smiley condom. I found it in a shop and thought: that’s one for the collection.’
How has the UK festival scene changed over the years?
‘I think it’s separating into two sides. On one side are festivals like Glastonbury and Bestival: you go and see a whole range of music and immerse yourself in the camping experience, whether it’s trench foot or sunburn. Then there are urban festivals like SW4, which don’t involve the camping. People aren’t worried about finding their tent at the end of the night – they’ve just got to crawl home at some point – so they really have it for six hours and don’t pace themselves. City festivals tend to be more intense… wow, that’s a really bad pun.’
Would you want your son or daughter to become a DJ?
‘My son’s 14, he got on the decks with me in Ibiza last summer and seemed to enjoy it. If you love music and you love sharing music with other people, it’s the best job in the world. But I wouldn’t force them to do it. This is my thirtieth year in showbiz, and there have been two or three times I’ve thought I’d have to get a proper job. There have been lean years when you think, “I’m getting too old for this,” but I’m still going strong.’
Any good stage names spring to mind for your son?
‘Not Fatboy Son. Anything apart from Fatboy Son.’
Interview: Alexandra Gerrity