Fatboy Slim’s Big Beach Bootique gigs have cemented their place as the biggest and best parties in dance music and Big Beach Bootique 5 is just about to push the bar even higher, bringing the beach, beats and bass to Brighton’s brand spanking new football stadium.
Taking place on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd June, the weekend-long event will showcase some of the most influential electronic music of our time. Bass heavyweight Carl Cox, Luciano, The 2 Bears & Maya Jane-Coles, Annie Mac, Jaguar Skills, Doorly, Union DJs as well as DJ Fresh have been confirmed to play alongside Fatboy Slim to create one of the most exciting festivals in the history of dance music. This Festival Feeling had a quick chat with Norman Cook (Fatboy Slim) to see how he is feeling about the new event format:
Hello Norman! How have you been? Not snowed-in I hope...
I’m good thanks; it’s not too cold in Brighton. It’s a bit like the English Riviera... nice and sunny all year.
What are your thoughts on how this year’s Big Beach Bootique will differ from previous events?
After doing it four times on the beach we kind of felt like we’d been there, done that. It was also getting increasingly hard to get permission from the council as they were getting a bit like; “you really want to do it again?” They wanted to move it to Stanmer Park or Preston Park and it just felt like it had already been done. It actually tied in nicely because as a shirt sponsor for The Albion I’d been campaigning to get the AMEX stadium built in Falmer and everyone thought I should do an opening show up there. There was no way I was going to let anyone else do the opening show, so of course it was a yes and here we are.
How do you think the new AMEX stadium will work as a venue? It’s a bit different from your usual spot on Brighton beach...
We don’t know... no one has ever done a rave in a football stadium before. Of course stadium gigs have been done many times, but doing a party is a bit different. The thing is when you do stuff like this outdoors it massively increases the atmosphere, but sometimes unless you’re right near a speaker it’s not necessarily that loud and if the wind changes it can affect the sound. In the stadium we’ll have access to quadraphonic speakers; it’s going to be intense at the AMEX as it is acoustically designed to keep the sound in and at the same time you’ll be able to look up and see the stars. What we want to achieve is the intense indoor club experience, while also feeling like you’re at a festival.
Is it a local festival for local people? Or are you expecting people from all over the UK?
So far we’ve mainly been promoting it locally and already sold half the tickets to residents in Brighton, but now we’re announcing the rest of the line up, which includes three number one artists on the same bill, I think it’ll be about half and half. The line up is incredible, you can’t always choose who you work with, but I’m very happy with the way this has worked out. DJ Fresh was the final touch.
Tell me a little bit about the thinking behind Big Beach Bootique... who came up with the original idea?
The first Big Beach Bootique was Channel 4’s idea and it was all to do with cricket! Channel 4 had just got the franchise to show test cricket and to celebrate they decided to show the test matches on big screens all around England. They were building this enormous 50 ft-high screen and sound system to watch the cricket on Brighton beach and thought, “while we’ve got this set up let’s have a party”, so we were kind of tagged on to the end of the cricket! By the Friday of that weekend England had already lost the cricket quite convincingly, so no one was really fussed about it anymore, but 60,000 people turned up to watch me DJ! Nothing like that has ever been done on Brighton beach before. We were just amazed we were allowed to do it.
The second one became infamous, purely because of the amount of people that showed up. It kind of teetered on the brink of disaster as I’m sure you know. We managed to just hold it in, but after that the council wouldn’t let me do it for free anymore because we couldn’t control the numbers. It’s kind of evolved since then so we wanted to do something different rather than do the same thing on the beach again.
The idea of Beach Bootique is to celebrate my continuing relationship with Brighton. I’m really proud of the city and they seem to be proud of me, so now we’ve got this new stadium it’s something to be even more proud of! What better way of christening it and celebrating it?
Are you planning on doing Big Beach Bootique at the stadium year-on-year as a regular festival?
I don’t know at the moment, let’s get this one out of the way first and see how we go! As I say, I really wanted to do the first show at the stadium, but I can’t lay claim that I do it every year, that just wouldn’t be fair! Depending on how this one goes will determine which license they get and also how many events like this they can do a year. So if they only get to do two shows a year then I can’t do them, I’ve got to let somebody else have a crack. Let’s see if we pull this off... maybe ask me the week after!
Has it been tough organising the event? I can imagine something on this kind of scale being quite stressful..
Not so far, compared to doing it on the beach it’s been an absolute stroll in the park because with the beach you have to take measures like shut the road off and try and deal with the whole thing in 12 hours; you end up having to cut a lot of corners. Because it’s not a purpose-built venue there is so much to think about, such as safety, toilets, parking... the list goes on. Comparatively organising the event in a stadium is a piece of p*ss! We’ve got car parks, park and ride, toilets, bars all ready-made, which means we’re way ahead of ourselves already. We’ll still have sleepless nights over it because we want it to be perfect for everyone, but it does make certain aspects a lot easier.
Michael Eavis recently said there were only a few years left before festivals start to tail off and go out of fashion, what are your thoughts on the subject?
I suppose it’s like dance music being fashionable one year and not the next. There’ll be years when everyone wants it and there’ll be leaner years, but it’ll never go away. There will always a need for it. What tends to happen is that people go to lots of festivals one year and then maybe not so much the next year and it also depends if the weather is good or not, it moves in cycles. There will always be a hard core of people that want to go to festivals whether it’s to see old-school bands, go to a rave or see U2 and Coldplay perform. There’s always going to be these kinds of people. It’s just supply and demand and the demand will always be there.
Are you going to any festivals as part of the audience this year?
It’s a bit of a busman’s holiday for me as I spend most of my summer playing festivals. Having said that I’ve been to Bestival and had a fantastic time so it may well lure me out! Actually, I’m just looking at my diary and I’m playing pretty much every weekend this summer anyway. If someone holds a nice boutique festival that goes from Tuesday to Thursday then I’m there!
What sticks out in your mind as being your best festival memory?
It’d have to be Glastonbury. Probably some of the best bits I don’t remember though! I just have a vague memory of thinking “this is the most fantastic time ever”. If I had to pick one moment it’d be when I played Sunday Best on the Radio One stage. It was Sunday afternoon, which is just when everybody just starts to completely lose it and I remember I played a Chemical Brothers tune backwards to see if people would dance backwards; everybody tried. We finished off the set by playing Love is in the Air and Zoë and I were spinning each other round saying “life doesn’t get any better than this”. I think that’s as high on life as I’ve ever been.
What’s your dream festival line-up? The Big Beach Bootique line up is looking pretty epic..
There are a couple of people that we couldn’t get... but yes it’s shaped up to be brilliant. For a DJ-based festival in the south of England, I think we have the dream line up.
I’ve heard you’ve got quite an extensive record collection...what’s the first record you ever bought?
It was Rubber Bullet by 10cc! I’ve still got it, I’m not sure how often I play it now, but that’s because the first five or ten records you ever buy you know completely off by heart don’t you? You end up knowing the B-sides and everything, so it’s memorable for those reasons. The second record I ever bought was Devil Gate Drive by Susie Quatro.
What’s the last record you added to your collection?
I really want it to be the new Air album; I’m excitedly waiting for that.
The last time I was talking about you was with the lovely Rizzle Kicks. How was it working with them?
It was quite bizarre because they are so young. I did feel a little bit like a grumpy old Dad and then they actually started calling me Dad! It was great to work to with people so fresh and at the beginning of their career and I’m so proud of what they’ve done. I kind of knew they had something special. They kind of wore me out though; they have some much enthusiasm for everything! I may possibly do some more stuff with them, so watch this space.
What’s next for Norman Cook?
My epic summer of festivals, Euro 2012, more shows and lots of Ibiza action this year. Then hopefully at the end of this summer I’ll start working on the next album. At some point I’ve got to make another Fatboy Slim record haven’t I?
Both days at Brighton Beach Bootique will see over seven hours of pure dance entertainment, culminating in a scorching star-lit set by the multi-award winning, platinum album selling, dance institution that is: Fatboy Slim.
Tickets are currently on general release and are available from bigbeachbootique.ticketline.co.uk for a limited period these will be sold at an early bird price of £35.
See you down the front!