: Deanna Rilling
Chilling in his hotel room at the Cosmopolitan wearing a “Fatboy Slim is F**king in Vegas!” shirt complete with a Hunter S. Thompson version of his logo, Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim) was preparing for his return to Marquee on July 5. Before grabbing his laptop adorned with a “Now is the summer of our Disco Tent” play-on-words sign and slipping out of his shoes as he took control of the DJ booth, Fatboy Slim filled us in on his latest track, making amends with Las Vegas, and more.
Tell me more about the guy you and Riva Starr randomly found in Brooklyn to record for “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat”? Did he even know who you were?
He didn’t really know who he was to be honest. [Laughs.] No, it’s just one of those delights to having a phone like [an iPhone] where you can record stuff. He was just this wacked-out lunatic that we met. It’s a miracle in of technology that in moments like that you just shove a mic in someone’s face and turn it into a record.
Did you get his name? Have your camp heard from him at all like, “Hey! That’s me!”
I dare say he’ll get in touch—
—If he even remembers the whole thing—
—Yeah! It’d be quite funny if he’s dancing in the club and is like, “I remember this guy! I remember that conversation.”
When you dropped “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat” at the Electric Daisy Carnival, the crowd went crazy. What was the festival experience like for you?
It’s kind of the culmination of everything that we know as the American EDM phenomenon. It’s quite weird because I don’t really tour, but I’m always playing and I keep coming back here. Every time you go away you think, “Things have calmed down in America,” but every time you come back it’s just growing and growing. It’s gotten to such a humongous level—obviously European people have gotten a bit sniffy about “Well, these kids are pretending it’s something new”—but for me, it’s that they’re discovering it for the first time and their naïve love of it is exactly the same as me 20 years ago.
Nobody discovered this thing first: It’s called “hedonism” and it’s just got a slightly different soundtrack to what it’s always had. But it’s just amazing to see the enthusiasm that currently the Americans have taken the ball and run with it and it’s just bigger and brasher and better. At first we thought it was a bit too commercial, but that’s the American way of doing things, that’s what Vegas is like: You take things and you just take them to the absurd degree. … But now it’s not a flash-in-the-pan; it’s done nothing but grow.
It’s interesting, feeling kind of like a proud uncle coming back to see how your nieces and nephews have grown up. This end of it—especially Vegas—is raving American-style and something like “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat” works on so many different levels. From the first time I ever played it, everyone was chanting like they knew it, like it’s our long-lost mantra.
Do you think it could become the anthem for this generation of EDM fans/ravers?
I would dearly love to contribute something like that. I mean, my one contribution probably to pop music thusfar was the term “big beat” was named after my club in Brighton, the Big Beat Boutique. … I was always very honored to have a style of music named after me even though the music didn’t last in the way that house did. But if I’m responsible for a T-shirt or an anthem of this generation, I would be most proud. It’s maybe not an anthem, but a slogan for a generation—but a slogan for the last generation and the next one as well, kind of a one-size-fits-all.
What are your thoughts on the current dance music culture from the early days of illegal parties to the big festivals of today?
It’s been commercialized and trivialized in some way—and probably they’re the people who are the most sniffy about this EDM explosion and are the people who put those hours in and didn’t have it laid on a plate for them and there’s a generation of ravers in England—who are now parents and don’t go out anyway—but they’re the ones going, “Argh, it’s not like the old days.”
But I’ve never been a purist about what we do. What we do is about hedonism and celebration of life through making strange electronic squelching noises and it should be there for everyone. But those of us who were there and went through the hard times, we know we’ve earned our stripes so we can now sit back in our penthouse pad in Vegas and enjoy it.
You previously told Rolling Stone magazine: "I did a residency in Vegas two years ago, and to be honest, the Vegas side of it really isn't for me –that whole VIP, table, bottles of Cristal, girls with pneumatic tits. That's not my vibe." But you’ve played here four times in the past month. Any new impressions or thoughts on the subject?
I think we’re meeting in the middle. Two years ago I really was quite astounded by how commercial it’d become and that kind of scared me and offended me. But I’ve warmed to it and things like EDC you see that you can’t be sniffy about this. This is something really big and you can’t go, “Oh, I was there years ago,” or, “This isn’t what it’s about; you’re doing it wrong.” I do apologize if I offended anyone with my comments in Rolling Stone. … Two weeks ago here I saw a club, a festival and a pool party and all three of them had a completely different vibe to what I’d seen here before. So I think [Vegas] has grown up a little and maybe I’ve kind of mellowed a little with age and now just accepted that whether or not there’s VIP tables, the people are still here for the music, they just don’t take it as seriously as some of us may have hoped. … Again, I’d like to apologize if I sounded a bit negative in the Rolling Stone piece, but I’ve played here four times in the past two weeks just to tell you all is forgiven and I’m here!
Since you do have a new single, will that prompt a new artist album?
Only if it’s a really big hit and record companies start putting pressure on me to make records again. They’ve laid off me for the last three or four years because they think “You can’t beat Norman into making a record if he doesn’t want to make one.” When I wasn’t inspired to make one there’s no way you were going to force me to. But I might be getting a taste for it back.
I know plenty of places to find drunk people here, so if you want to go record samples and make a whole themed album of folks rambling about all kinds of stuff!
[Laughs] Yeah, maybe there’s a concept album in there!
Did you ever think the videos for “Praise You” and “Weapon of Choice” would become so iconic and do you have any ideas floating around for a vid you haven’t been able to make yet? There’s the lyric video for “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat,” but maybe a full production?
That was a deliberate anti-video, but a lot of the best videos I ever made were anti-videos. The “Praise You” video was a reaction to the high-budget dance extravaganzas. I don’t know. I definitely got to a point where I felt I made every statement video or sort of strange leftfield video and every now and then you think the best ones have all been done, but that’s normally when you should just start thinking outside the box. But I do have to say the kind of virals have sort of fulfilled where we ended up with the pop video; when they first started out there were trying to be arty or a like a glossy magazine and then they became big-budget, and then they were kind of mini feature films and everything. … Every idea has been done by someone virally and it’s done much quicker and cheaper and by the time the record company says “That’s a good idea” it’s already been done and gone in two weeks on the internet.
I have a lot of fun with the visuals when we do production shows because I can sync the visuals to the tunes now, which we don’t get to do in America that much. I’m more interested in the fun that you can have making your own videos to play that sync with what I play when I DJ than having something that goes viral.
Gotta ask—how did DJing barefoot come about?
I can’t remember where it started, but I believe in my head that I dance better that way and I feel more in touch with the music. It started years and years ago and I just feel more comfortable and move better with no shoes on.—Deanna Rilling