“Tink with a Handle and Make a Face” – Norman Cook on DJ Mental Health Lessons | Fat Boy Slim

WLunchtime on Wednesdays, and the waterfront restaurant in Hove is handled to a remix of Drummen Move from Althea and the 1978 reggae Donna that hit the Uptown Prime Rating. You’ll be able to name the amount as much as rattle the cutlery if there are any cutlery within the restaurant to rattle, however there is not. Service is suspended, tables are pushed to the facet, and in the course of the room Norman Cook dinner is educating Jess and Amber, two girls of their twenties, how you can DJ: a headset on one ear solely so you possibly can hear the observe you are hinting at whereas listening to the observe being performed At present taking part in it with the opposite. It is a job he tackles with nice enthusiasm and a formidable lack of pretension – “they make a sort of ‘dazzling’ sound, shrugging his shoulders, pointing to the filter knobs on the mixer – which could be very enticing to anybody who pursues a profession like Cook dinner.” Fats Boy Slimdoesn’t come as an enormous shock.

Within the late Nineteen Nineties period of DJ superstars, when a few of his friends used to make stunning claims – Paul Oakenfold famously justified his charges by mentioning that he not solely performed recordings, but in addition raised his palms, pointed at individuals within the crowd and smiled, concluding by saying: I Artist – Cook dinner repeatedly pissed them off by refusing to take his job severely: “A monkey can do what I do,” was considered one of his most well-known statements. He does not say something like that today–“I believe,” he smiles, “I used to be most likely extra humble once I mentioned these issues, as a result of I used to be a musician. [in the Housemartins] And all of my musician associates had been like, “However you solely play recordings” — however he suggests to his college students that an important factor to recollect concerning the filter knobs on the mixer is to “make a face whenever you’re their coronary heart.” “That is mine,” he provides, leaning ahead and throwing his head again in obvious ecstasy.

Cook dinner is right here as a part of a charity-funded NHS scheme to carry artwork occasions for individuals with extreme psychological well being points, which additionally contains singing workshops, samba classes and sound remedy. “I actually needed to make music accessible to everybody, to interrupt the stigma round psychological sickness, to construct individuals’s confidence, and to do actually prime quality music workshops in stunning locations,” says Natalie Rowlands, the occupational therapist who programmed the occasions. The previous, however they have been by loads, they usually’re out of it once more, and that provides them an ideal alternative.”

“Natalie got here as much as me, and it sounded fascinating,” Cook dinner nodded. “It is sort of actually life affirming, it is so good for me to see individuals who have by no means touched a set of flooring earlier than going between two paths and considering: ‘Oh my God! “Generally I really feel a bit blamed for what I am doing for a job, and I see that harmless pleasure about the best way you possibly can manipulate the music: it is horny, it makes you centered, it offers you a pleasant heat feeling. So it is a pleasure to see the individuals who had been struggling undergo the method.” “.

Brighton rocked... 250 thousand fans attended the Big Beach Boutique in 2002.
Brighton rocked… 250 thousand followers attended the Massive Seashore Boutique in 2002. Picture: Everynight Pictures / Alamy

It appears stunning that Cook dinner had the time to share. At 58 – and practically 1 / 4 century after Fats Boy Slim’s business peak as a recording artist – the DJ’s schedule appears grueling: Switzerland, Poland, Glastonbury, France and Berlin. Two nights on Brighton Seashore, celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the Massive Seashore Boutique occasion, which legendaryly attracted 250,000 individuals and introduced city to a standstill: within the aftermath, there was a lot fanfare that Cook dinner later left the nation on the suggestion of then neighbor Paul McCartney. “It seems that if you happen to put all of the individuals who go to the little nightclubs in a single place, there could be numerous us,” he says. “This one is proscribed to 7,500 individuals, they’re in a pen on the seaside and no glazing is allowed on web site. It’s a very boutique Massive Seashore.”

All of it comes as an enormous reduction after what he calls an “fascinating” closure. “My entire job is to get massive numbers of individuals to attach and do every little thing we weren’t purported to do. Within the first two weeks, I assumed: What do I do?”

Like numerous DJs, he’d publish a weekly combine on-line, “which sort of saved my psychological well being on observe, and I had the summer time trip I would all the time promised. Then within the fall, my son went to varsity, my daughter went again to highschool and the partitions began.” Shut quickly.”

Finally, he took a job at his espresso store in Hove. “We had a case of Covid, we misplaced two thirds of our employees and so it was shut down or fully up and operating. I labored there for seven months. Folks had been strolling alongside the waterfront as a result of that was all they had been allowed to do and it was the place they obtained their espresso on the finish of the stroll, so I felt That we had been the final bastion of neighborhood and connection. It was enjoyable, as a result of I have never completed an trustworthy job in years. It made me actually sane. However the comeback was pleased.”

Back... Fatboy Slim playing Coachella 2022 this past April.
Again… Fatboy Slim taking part in Coachella 2022 this previous April. Picture: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Pictures for Coachella

In Could 2021, he performed a present with out a masks in Liverpool as a part of the federal government Occasion Analysis Program, to see whether it is potential to return to mass gatherings. It was terrible. There was such a factor as ‘If this had been completed, everybody may very well be crammed for one more six months.’ Our job was to check first after which begin every little thing and lick one another’s faces and correctly share and see what would occur, which we had been all able to do. I felt bizarre for the primary two minutes after which…” he smiled. “It was the second the clock struck 12 on New Years Eve, however all evening lengthy. Simply kissing strangers, hugging strangers as a result of you possibly can. DJing is a two-way factor, it is a dialog, if you happen to’re a DJ with out an viewers, for a reside stream or no matter, it is only a middle-aged man taking part in songs in his kitchen. Orgasm and connection forgot. Inside three minutes, the query was “Why is my coronary heart beating so quick? Oh, I am excited, I am glad to be right here. I keep in mind that feeling.”

Regardless of the Covid, Cook dinner’s profession as a DJ seems to have advanced on the stage of filling the world, unaffected by altering occasions, tastes or certainly his determination to cease making his personal music in a single type or one other. Inform the Guardian within the early twenty-first century that if his data stopped promoting, he would “severely take into account packing all of it,” and proved true to his phrase after 2004’s Palookaville didn’t match the platinum success of earlier Fatboy Slim albums. His 2009 album below the title Brighton Port Authority — which got here full with a myriad of visitor stars together with Iggy Pop and Dizzee Rascal, and a fancy, dramatic storyline involving a pretend band’s profession — drew fairly a couple of members. Since then, he is launched a handful of songs, though considered one of them, 2013’s Eat Sleep Rave Repeat, was a formidable Prime 3: variations of its title have been circulating on-line to at the present time. “My enthusiasm for making data has waned a bit. However my enthusiasm for DJs has by no means waned. And since I take pleasure in it a lot, it isn’t simply rides on the observe, I play in golf equipment all yr spherical. It is like Junior Week – the brand new consumption is up entrance within the golf equipment. There Youngsters go “My dad and mom performed your discs once I was rising up,” and since I play at their native membership down the highway, they arrive and see me out of curiosity and…” — laughs — “One other soul is mine.”

Family fun...Cook with her daughter Nelly at Camp Bestival in 2021.
Household enjoyable…Cook dinner along with her daughter Nelly at Camp Bestival in 2021. Images: Dan Reed/Rex/Shutterstock

There are nonetheless particular indicators of time passing, not least the truth that his youngsters have began DJing. His 10-year-old daughter Nelly carried out reside at Camp Bestival throughout lockdown: There was a candy second when Cook dinner tried to regulate one thing on the blender and was turned away. In the meantime, his son Woody “works full time – he is completed 5 gigs within the final week. He obtained in on DJ as a result of his flatmate was a DJ. Two months after he left residence: ‘I’ll be a DJ now.'” All these years he was I can go my knowledge on it and he did not need to know!Final summer time he performed in Ibiza in Mambo, and I used to be with him within the DJ sales space.Because the solar went down, he performed On the River by the Grove Armada And burst into tears! I can bear in mind when he was sitting within the nook of the DJ sales space, and he could not even see from the highest – it was the one secure place to place him, as a result of there was such a multitude in every single place. me and zoe [Ball, his ex-wife] By no means, by no means pay it on both of them. However he grew as much as love and select it fully independently. ”

Due to this fact, it seems that a minimum of a few of the members within the workshop at this time. I spoke briefly with Jess, the 34-year-old drummer, who was in music college till her “psychological well being hit me arduous”. She says it got here on the suggestion of her assist employee — “You’ll be able to disappear into nothingness in creativity, however you simply have to stay someway and get your self out once more.” I discovered matching very simple and “actually beloved it”: “It makes you need to comply with it extra and assume, ‘I am adequate, I exist already on this world, I am not simply over it. “

Again within the restaurant, the sound of the drum was nonetheless ringing. One other participant appears to have completely gotten over the blending technique, together with the filter handles. Cook dinner again off and look. “Okay, there’s nothing else I can educate you proper now,” he grinned and gave her a loud voice.