Fatboy Slim’s DJ secrets: “Always be 20 percent more wasted than your crowd”

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“It’s one of the basic rules of DJing. Always make sure you’re 20 percent more drunk than your crowd. Or you can be 20 percent more high than your crowd. Or just having 20 per cent more fun than your crowd. You have to lead by example.”

Those irreverent words were spoken by Fatboy Slim, AKA Norman Cook at the Ibiza IMS conference, the annual industry gathering timed around the island’s major opening parties, where Cook is helping mentor 18 aspiring DJs who are part of the Burn Residency program. It’s an integral part of the conference, which sees the up-and-comers trained by an elite cast of DJ talent, with the payoff being three chosen for a residency across the season.

“It’s ironic me saying this, because I actually gave up drinking three years ago. But for the majority of my DJ career, I felt that I had to be very much ‘in the party’.”

Cook joins an elite and varied cast of DJs that also includes Solomun, Steve Lawler, Avicii and Maceo Plex; all bringing their own unique of skills to the table, with one of Cook’s trademarks being his sense of fun, and connection with the crowd.

He also emphasises the importance of actually making eye contact with the sea of people in front of you. “Some DJs spend the whole evening completely focused on the decks, which might be great for what they’re doing technically, but if you’re not actually making eye contact with your audience, you can’t judge whether they’re going for it or not.”

“And there is a certain look that you get that says, yeah, I’m really enjoying this. Otherwise you might get a look that says, ‘What the fuck are you doing?’”

Speaking later to ITM, Cook emphasised he’d taken an irreverent approach in order to get the point across to the DJs in training. “It’s not just about sitting in your bedroom and doing this really clever mix, it’s also about entertaining people. It’s not such a difficult principle to latch onto.”

Fatboy Slim debuted his new audio-visual show in recent years, which was in full force when inthemix caught him at Sonar Festival in Barcelona later that year. “While the set might have been full of party tunes, and fairly straightforward in its appeal, it was still packed with plenty of exciting surprises, brimming with all sorts of bootlegs and edits that hadn’t been heard before…He garnered the best crowd response from any act all night, and it felt for two hours like the Sónar Festival had been transformed into the Big Beach Boutique, with hands-in-the air galore.”

At IMS, where he was honoured with a Legends Dinner, Fatboy Slim headlined the IMS festival in Dalt Villa on Thursday night with Pete Tong, Hot Since 82 and more. Stay tuned for more from IMS Ibiza, as inthemix will be reporting live from the White Isle.