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The popular musician has opened up about his set at the controversial 1999 music festival. Photo / Getty Images
Fatboy Slim – aka Norman Cook has had many memorable moments over the course of his decades-long career. From music producing to playing in The Housemartins, The Might Dub Katz and finally DJ-ing, there are plenty of moments he would relive, if possible, but one he would like to stay away from is the gig he played at the controversial 1999 Woodstock music festival.
“It’s a weird one,” he says speaking to the Herald via Zoom. “It was a very different time, and looking back it was weird because there was no sort of social media or camera phones in those days. Everybody sort of went and then they forgot about it.”
After the success of Woodstock’s 1969 festival, the organisers tried to create it in ‘94 and again in ‘99 but instead of the intended atmosphere of peace, love and music, the last of the three festivals quickly spiralled out of control, seeing an approximate 400,000 person crowd over four days with many riots, sexual assaults and even deaths.
Last year, Cook revisited his performance at the festival for Netflix’s Trainwreck: Woodstock 99′ documentary where he recalled the shocking moment he was forced to shut down his set after a van drove through the out-of-control crowd. “I think at the time we were just like, we’ll just forget, you know, move on but, yeah, it was weird to revisit it.”
Once again going back to moments from the historic blip in time, the UK DJ tells the Herald he was largely sheltered from the full extent of the at times disturbing and controversial – event, “What went on the main stages was very different from what was going on where the ravers were,” he explains, “On a main stage, the band are doing their stuff and it’s all – the crowd watches them and then the band tells ‘em what to do. And if he says rebel, then they rebel. Whereas with DJs – apart from trying to make people put their hands in the air, we don’t really tell people to do that much.”
Following the event, the star continued with his successful DJ career instead of returning to his earlier days of playing in a band or even producing but admits he loves his part of the music industry, “DJs tend to be having sort of less ego, it’s more about togetherness and unity and community rather than ego.”
Despite being content with his current situation, the Praise You artist says his past success and extensive CV still come with pressure – especially as he continues to hold the Guinness World Record for the most top 40 hits under different names.
Revealing one of the reasons he doesn’t make music anymore, Cook explains he doesn’t think anything he creates would be relevant for young people nor could it eclipse anything he did before. ”As soon as I felt myself sort of struggling to stay relevant, that was when I lost my love of making records because it became pressure and having had all that success is like the only way is down really.”
But it’s clear fans of the UK star disagree with that statement as he played a total of 98 shows last year – almost one every three days – and has already sold out three of his upcoming New Zealand shows.
Arriving in the country later this month to embark on an eight-date tour that will see him perform almost everywhere from Queenstown to Waiheke the star says he’s very excited to return, mainly because he loves Kiwi audiences.
“Kiwis have kind of got a similar sense of humour, a similar sense of fun, similar love of music, so we get on very well,” and while he admits they are more “gentle” than Australian crowds with no breast flashing or obscenities being shouted at him, he says we still “go for it”.
Unlike past tour dates when the star admits Aotearoa was a bit of an “afterthought”, this time, he’s here for 10 days and plans to make the most of his time here with a trip by “doodling around on a Lime scooter” and making a visit to one of the country’s most iconic food joints.
“Someone was telling me about burger joint that I’ve gotta go to,” He says of Queenstown’s Ferg Berg, “that’s gonna be my port call when I’m in Queenstown.”
Who: Fatboy Slim – aka. Norman Cook
What: New Zealand tour
When: January 27 – February 5
Where: Christchurch, Napier, Auckland, Waiheke Island, Wellington, Queenstown and Taupō
Tickets and full details are available here
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