How Greta Thunberg made Fatboy Slim cool again

DJ Fatboy Slim has always been cool. But it took Greta Thunberg's powerful speech to the UN mashed up with his 1999 hit Right Here, Right Now for his 10-year-old daughter Nelly to finally regard her internationally famous father as cool.

Fatboy, known as Norman Cook when he is doing the school run, has been playing the viral remix of Right Here, Right Now during his current Australian tour to huge cheers.

The mashup exploded on social media in September when a South African electronic musician called The Kiffness took Thunberg's call for action on climate change - "right here, right now" - and soundtracked it with the Fatboy Slim song.

 

 

His catalogue of club bangers, which also include Praise You, Rockefeller Skank and Weapon of Choice, have refreshed his audience over the past two decades courtesy of their regular use in film, television and almost every sporting broadcast of the past two decades.

"It was great to see Right Here, Right Now is still around as a moving piece of music thanks to someone putting Greta Thunberg saying those words over that piece of music," he said.

"It gave me a new set of goosebumps when I hear it and a feeling of relevance, just when I thought I'm getting past it.

"My 10-year-old daughter totally latched onto that and said it was the coolest thing I'd ever done - and I didn't actually do it.

"To feel you are part of a zeitgeist of young people standing up to defend the planet is a powerful thing. But she had me at 'cool dad'."

Fatboy Slim had the audience raving at the Australian Open on Australia Day. Picture: Getty Images.
Fatboy Slim had the audience raving at the Australian Open on Australia Day. Picture: Getty Images.


Cook is the classic dual personality artist; the respectable dad to 19-year-old son Woody and Nelly by day, and Hawaiian shirt-wearing, maniacally grinning, endlessly bouncing DJ by night.

For the past 11 years, the grinning and bouncing has been courtesy of pure adrenaline and the infectious properties of the collective euphoria of dance music played at clubs and festivals.

But for many years, the lines between the man and his DJ alter ego were blurred because of alcohol and drug abuse until he got sober in 2009.

 

"It makes my life more tenable to know when I am Norman and when I am Fatboy. I would never wear Hawaiian shirts when I was off duty," he said.

"As you would know from my history, there were times when I didn't know where work and play ended.

"Norman is a father of two in his (coughs) 50s and has certain responsibilities and is a sensible, mature person.

"And then I pop into the telephone box, put on the Hawaiian shirt and become Fatboy, who is as infantile and mad and irreverent and irresponsible as he ever was for those two hours of stage. And then I go back to the hotel and straight to bed."

Fatboy Slim remains the (sober) king of the dance party. Picture: Getty Images.
Fatboy Slim remains the (sober) king of the dance party. Picture: Getty Images.

Dance music was never predicted to enjoy the shelf life and mainstream appeal it has now, nor the intergenerational following.

Cook said his audience at the big summer festival shows he is doing in Australia this month can be age-graded in relation to their position in the venue.

The 18 and 19-year-olds hold down the front rows, the original ravers who are now in their 40s and 50s are at the back, and in the middle are the young parents bouncing their toddlers on their shoulders.

He will disperse his Fatboy Slim hits through his show but remains committed to refreshing his setlist with the latest dance tracks.

Definitely not a 90s revival night. Picture: Getty Images
Definitely not a 90s revival night. Picture: Getty Images

"The front rows never change, they are always 18 or 19, but the audience gets older the further you move back," he said.

"I still spend every day trawling the internet for the new releases.

"I would hate it if my shows were just a 90s revival night. I try to keep the music balanced between nods to the old school and what's going on now."

Fatboy Slim performs at the Halls, Sydney Olympic Park on January 31, Glenelg Beach, Adelaide on February 1 and Whitfords Nodes, Perth on February 2.