It’s absolutely true. Celebrities, whether they are actors, musicians or DJs or even C-listers, take on an pseudonym when they book into hotels.
When Hugh Grant, as lovesick William in Nottting Hill, rushes to London’s Ritz to hunt down Julia Roberts, playing the world’s finest actress Anna Scott in this particular movie, he desperately pulls out the names of several well-known ladies from fiction, finally coming up trumps and getting the girl who had checked in, and out, as Pocahontas.
So when you go by as many names as English DJ Fatboy Slim has done in a 25-year career (born Quentin Cook, spent a short part of his career as DJ Quentox although he is generally just known as Norman Cook these days), is there a real need to adapt a pseudonym? Apparently so, because Fatboy Slim had checked into room seven of a Rio de Janeiro hotel under the alias of a well-known BBC weatherman.
But it is as Fatboy Slim that Norman Cook will playing to around 30,000 electronic music fans tonight at Creamfields, and not just any old beeping music event — Creamfields Buenos Aires reaches double figures this year.
Speaking from Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday, where he was preparing to play a private gig for city mayor Cesar Maia that evening, Norman says: “The World Cup is in Brazil in four years and I have a sideline project of being the official World Cup DJ so we’re doing our preliminary rounds here,” he says. “I started in Japan eight years ago, and have just been to South Africa so we’re planning something really big for Brazil. We thought we’d hook up with some movers and shakers in the football and political worlds! It‘s a no brainer as they love me out here and I love being here!”
Norman Cook started off his career in Paul Heaton’s The Housemartins in the mid-1980s, a Hull-based guitar band which found fairly quick success with Happy Hour and Caravan of Love, the latter a woeful harmonic track ideal for drunken staggers home. But the Housemartins split up in 1998: Heaton set up The Beautiful South while Norman took the production route, forming Beats International, Freak Power and Pizzaman, all pseudonyms for his diverse projects.
The Fatboy Slim concept. “I have lost quite a lot of weight this year actually and I completed the Brighton marathon in under five hours,” he laughs. He was born in 1963, and just keeps on rocking. Now aged 47, with a 25-year career behind him and with a 10-month-old baby girl in the household as well as an older son, how much longer can Fatboy Slim keep travelling the world for?
“I reckon I’ve bought another five years since I stopped drinking, and I’m healthier than I ever was. At the moment we have such a banging show, with the visuals, I’m going to milk it until I have to retire. Look at the Rolling Stones, they can still do it. DJs were never supposed to be good looking in the first place and we’ve always been able to hide our paunch behind the decks, so I think we are allowed to get old and fat and bald, more so than pop stars.”
This isn’t the first time Fatboy Slim has played Argentina but that was a couple of years back. “I’ve played down on the beach before but what I notice about the Creamfields idea in South America is that it is tailor-made for it. Argentina is too far away to get huge line-ups on a regular basis so it’s a great excuse to bring everyone over and there aren’t that many similar events so Creamfields stands out,” Norman says.
“It seems to mean more to people here. I think the set-up works much better in a hot country — I’ve done the Liverpool Creamfields many times and it can be a bit of a chore depending on the English weather!”
Warning him that the long Buenos Aires nights can be a touch on the chilly side, and that perhaps a sweater is in order, Norman retorts: “I can cope with anything — I’ve just come from England!”
On a South American whirlwind tour taking in Peru and Paraguay as well as Brazil, one could assume all the DJs know each other and hang out. Who is he looking forward to seeing play at Creamfields Buenos Aires?
“Actually, I haven’t even had any time to work out who is on the line-up, but I know Carl Cox is playing. When you play three times a week, you just have no idea,” he says. “But I am looking forward to hanging out with Carl and David Guetta as we were together in Sao Paulo last weekend and they are old friends.”
What kind of mischief did you all get up to? “Well there was some that I can’t mention but I don’t drink anymore, neither does Carl. We’ve all quietened down and concentrate on the job rather than having a laugh.”
With a small crew in tow as opposed to the large entourage a live band usually brings on tour, Norman is very proud of the Fatboy Slim light show as it allows him to be a VJ as well. “We write scripts for the tunes I play most, but it’s great as I don’t have to stick to that — whatever I play comes up on screen immediately. But my lighting and visuals guys have to keep guessing when I go off piste!”
The audio and visuals all sound pretty fabulous but is there anything that hasn’t yet been invented that could take his show to a whole different level?
“I’d like the lights to come out onto the audience. The bigger the gig, the further away you are from the crowd so if there was a way that the DJ booth could hydraulically come over the top of the crowd, I would feel a lot more among everybody. Yes, hydraulics to bring the show to the crowd.”
Ravers shouldn’t expect Fatboy Slim to be flying through the air this time around, but as he says, give it another five years, technologically speaking, and who knows.
Where & when
Autódromo de Buenos Aires (Av. Roca and General Paz). Website: www.creamfieldsba.com How to get there: By subway E, Plaza de los Virreyes station combine with Premetro to Gral. Savio station or by bus, lines 21,28,47,80,41,101,114,117,141,150,185.
First published in the Buenos Aires Herald on 13 November, 2010