An Interview with Fat Boy Slim

Last weekend saw the return to what has come to be known as the most spectacular event in Brighton’s Dance Music calendar. After a break of a few years the legendary Big Beach Bootique returned to Brighton last weekend, and one thing is certain, they did it in style!

This year saw the event move away from the beach for the first time, and take up residency at the Amex Stadium, home to Brighton FC. The stadium is just a short hop from Brighton town centre, and my jaw dropped when I walked into see LED screens covering the entire width of the football pitch setup ready for an evening AV spectacular.

We we’re lucky enough grab 5 minutes with Mr Norman Cook himself as the gig got underway, and we headed into to his private box just as Maya Jane Coles was getting started. The energy in the stadium was electric, and everyone could sense we were in for something special. And no-one was more excitable then Mr Fatboy Slim himself, as he bounded over, unable to contain a huge grin as the stadium filled below us.

Of course, one of the first things we wanted to talk about was just how the move from the beach to the stadium would change the event? “When we did the first four on the beach they were fantastic!” Norman told me, “So the one worry we had was that when you move it off of the beach and into a football stadium, it may not have that same kind of feeling of “I can’t believe we’re here and doing this!!” but it seems to have translated into “I can’t believe we’re doing it in a football stadium!” and the good thing is that later on when it gets dark we’ve got so much more production. On the beach we could only shut the roads off 12 hours before the show so we had to build a really small stage. But here we’ve got like the biggest, well, it is the biggest show we’ve ever done!”

“There was a worry that people would be standing there thinking “This feels like a take that concert. But I think people are treating it with the same loving disrespect that they did the last ones. I think it’s just that excitement of doing something in a different place. Rather than doing it in a nightclub or at a festival. Let’s put on a party in an equally beautiful environment, but in a different way. And also for me it means so much being a Brighton fan. I come here every week for the football!”

Musically there was quite a different vibe between Friday, which had a more techno edge with Maya Jane Coles, Luciano, and Carl Cox on the bill and the Saturday, which was broader in terms of its accessibility, with Annie Mac, DJ Fresh, Nero and Jaguar Skills, all of course supporting Norman himself.  I asked, were you very much involved in the curation. Did you look hand pick the artists? “I was totally involved in the curation and also it was my idea to try and separate the two nights, so if you wanted to go with a bunch of mates we put all the music on that that bunch of mates would want go and see. So it sort of translates. We didn’t really think it would be an older crowd and a younger crowd the other, but it’s kind of a bit like that. The more hardcore housey heads tend to be a little bit older than the kids who wanna see DJ Fresh and Nero. So yeah there was a certain separation but just so that people didn’t buy tickets for the Friday and find out all their mates were going on the Saturday. It kind of puts a definition behind it.”

Something has obviously worked; there is a really good atmosphere already! “Well that’s what we wanted. The excitement of putting it on! And only 10% of the tickets were sold through the football club so 90% of the people here have never been inside this stadium and aren’t football fans. So they are seeing something that we fought so hard to get.”

The line-up also saw a mix of established acts, and some of the fresher faces, was this key to the planning? “Yeah well again, that was kind of the criteria that we had, I mean Carl Cox is a really old mate and a Brighton boy, I’ve done tons with him, I’ve done one with him in Japan and Australia but he’s never done the Brighton one before. And then there are people like Annie Mac who is an old friend as well. But we also didn’t want it to just be me and a load of old mates, so we were thinking about people who are cutting edge and coming through. I must admit on the Saturday I did have to take a bit advice because I don’t really know quite so much about bass.”

So are you going to adapt your style to adjust to those different influences or do you think you are just going to lash it out? “I think I’m just going to play by my instincts. There isn’t really a plan. I kind of think my music straddles both boundaries. I mean there is a quite a 4/4 element to what I do. But I think it isn’t just techy.”

We then got chatting on the technical elements of the production, and I could tell Norman was really excited about what they had lined up, so what did he have in store for us? “Just big shit! It is the biggest screen that has ever been used in England!” So this really is bringing back BBB in style? “Well also the four events we did on the beach, if you look at like the DVD of the second one, the size of the audience doesn’t really equate to the scale of the show we put on. Most of the people couldn’t hear it or see it because we didn’t realise it would be that big. This time the proportion of the amount of entertainment going onto the stage and everyone being able to see it and hear it and be totally bombarded by it, it addresses the balance.”

Are you going to be able to find a balance between that heavy production, that much more polished production when it comes to that audio visual, and still having that bonkers feel? “Well there is always spontaneity. Each bit we have re-written kind of exists with the audio and I’m still djing and making up the script as I go along. Whatever I do the screens will show.” So it’s a full VJ set we can expect? “Yeah I don’t even use vinyl anymore, I use cdjs with a time code on them which then goes into a laptop and that plays both the audio and the visual at the same time. So if I scratch it will scratch on the screen.” So you really are controlling the entire experience? That is the nature of the beast, yes!” He beamed.


And a beast it was. As we left Norman to head back to watch the crowd rocking out to the last of Maya Jane Coles set, he was still visibly bouncing off the walls. Heading back into the stadium we let loose to Lucanio, who delivered a great set, complete with his rather gorgeous kids who were all jumping up and down in the DJ booth with him. As the after-work crowd arrived he dropped a tech-heavy remix if ‘Sugar Daddy’ which sent everyone into a frenzy.

From there, the big man himself, Carl Cox, came on and delivered a superb set of techno, sprinkled with house-classics samples that perfected suited the more mature Friday night crowd. Carl Co9x was built for stadium sets, and he certainly didn’t disappoint this time.

And of course, as the dark started closing in, it was time for the main event. The screens exploded into life as Fatboy Slim took to the decks, and we witnessed was I can safely say, is the best A/V spectacular I have ever seen in a live environment. Huge lasers penetrated the night sky, and fire cannons erupted towers of flames into the air as tune after tune dropped to a massive vocal eruption form a hyped up crowd. Norman Cook was home, and he came home with a bang.