IN MANY ways it is fitting that local legend Fatboy Slim will bring the rave to Shoreham Airport this summer. The superstar DJ hasn’t played Wild Life Festival since it was established by electronic acts Rudimental and Disclosure in 2015 – for good reason, as Norman Cook himself explains.

Fatboy Slim’s return to the stage in Sussex – his first outdoor appearance in his home county in two years – will serve as a reminder of his undiminished legacy. Wild Life has quickly built a reputation as a party hub for energetic young revellers and the likes of Jess Glynne and George Ezra will doubtlessly cater for this demographic.

Fatboy Slim is a slightly different proposition. Cook acknowledges that many festival-goers weren’t born when he was at his peak, and yet songs like The Rockafeller Skank and Praise You are timeless hits. The DJ’s turbo-charged electronic sound is a marker of a distinct time in British music history but it continues to permeate the national consciousness. We caught up with Cook shortly after he was announced as a Wild Life headliner.

Why did Wild Life appeal to you?

When they did the first one, they rang me up and said “we know this is your turf but if you do it it will be all about you”. They’ve been respectful about it. Last year I wasn’t working and I could actually hear it from my house. I’ve been gagging to do it but keeping my powder dry. It’s on my doorstep so I’m chuffed to be invited.

Can we expect a career-spanning set?

It’s the full bells and whistles show. There will be bits of my older stuff but it’s not a retrospective or anything clever like that. My job is just to make people smile and dance.

Your debut album Better Living Through Chemistry turned 20 last year. Do you reflect back much on your earlier career?

If I didn’t have a nod to Praise You and Right Here, Right Now at some point in my set people tend to notice. I realise that when I put an older song in the set a lot of people won’t have been born when it first came out. I think that’s part of my appeal – what I lack in youth I can hopefully make up for in experience.

On that note, do you tend to see many young faces in your audiences nowadays?

Right now, the demographic is kids who were brought up with parents who used to play my tunes. Some of the tunes I play in my set divide opinion; I’ll drop [Underworld’s] Born Slippy, say, which sometimes makes the crowd go nuts but at other times people look at each other with confused expressions. You have to read the age of the crowd and pick your moments.

A few years back you said you’d “rather go sideways than up” in your career. Does this mean seeking alternative platforms for your work rather than the usual mainstream gigs?

Yes, but included within that is playing at airports that are literally on my home doorstep and to a home crowd. I always like to do something big in Brighton in the summer whether it’s Pride or a Big Beach Boutique. Last year I was supposed to open the i360 but it fell through. It was just due to technical issues and we couldn’t pull it off. I like to do things in Brighton to celebrate my relationship with the city.

You once played to 350,000 people on a Rio da Janeiro Beach. Where do you go from there?

Down! It’s much more fun to play to 100 people – you don’t have to take it so seriously. I get a big buzz out of playing big crowds but also small crowds, where you can really communicate with people. One of my favourite gigs last year was doing the Boiler Room from the Arch – playing a set while people were poking me and patting me on the back. I love that as much as I love being on a beach, lording it up with lasers.

You’ve said a lot of those shows were played in a kind of “haze” – do you regret you don’t have more vivid memories of such occasions?

There were pretty surreal, yeah. I do sometimes think “did that happen?” and people have to confirm that it did. Because there were no camera phones around in those days there was no video documentation, which was probably a good thing considering a lot of my behaviour. For every regret I have and bits I don’t remember, all I have to do is look at the Big Beach Boutiques, which we luckily had the foresight to film. There was one show I played on a beach in Argentina years ago that I only vaguely remember being at. Argentinians still come up to me and tell me what an epic night it was.

A part of you must have felt completely overwhelmed when 250,000 people attended Big Beach Boutique II.

I was overwhelmed with joy after the first one because we didn’t think we could pull it off or how many people would come. with the second one, too many people came and although I had the pride of a triumphant hometown gig there were lots of fear about safety. I was working with the police all day about how we could keep the crowd safe. That was probably the most nervous I’ve ever gone on, because they said if anything went wrong people could die. That’s not the headspace you want to be in on stage – avoiding death.

Did you ever miss those days and the hedonism that came with it?

I’ve had that part of my life and left no stone unturned. I never think “ah, I wish I’d done that” because most of the time I did do it. When it started to hurt I stopped doing it. No regrets that I did it but no regrets that I stopped.

What do your days consist of when you’re not DJing? Do you work a lot from home?

I’m always tinkering around with things to do with the sets – that takes up a lot of time. I’m working on a film project at the moment, too, which I can’t tell you about but you’ll be the first to know.

Will Albion finally get promoted this year?

I can’t answer that question without tempting fate, I’m afraid. We’re looking as strong as we ever have. Last year we came very close and this year we’re knocking on the door but I’m not making any predictions for fear of jinxing.

How is it working out with Zoe [Ball] and raising your children since the split last year?

It’s OK. She lives next door but one and it’s going all right. Thanks for asking.

Who else is on the line-up?

Jess Glynne

The Grammy Award-winning pop singer opened the first Wild Life and returns to headline this year. Since registering on the public consciousness in a scenestealing vocal contribution on Clean Bandit’s hit Rather Be, she has gone on to score five number ones in the single charts. She is only the second British female solo artist to achieve this honour. Glynne’s debut album I Cry When I Laugh has sold triple platinum after being released in 2015. In the same year, she appeared as a guest judge on The X Factor. She turned down the change to be a judge on The Voice last year.

George Ezra

The English singer-songwriter has been nominated for four Brit awards since his hit single Budapest reached the top 10 in several countries. He garnered many fans from his support performances on tours with Hozier and Sam Smith. Before Ezra made a name for himself in music, he created a word, petan, to help him bond with fans. He encouraged people to use it in everyday life. In 2015, he admitted that this creation was nonsense: “It’s a word I made up, me and my friends,” he said. “It could be good or bad or anything.”

Rag ’n’ Bone Man

The Uckfield resident won the Brits Critics’ Choice Award late last year for his unique blend of rap and blues. After a childhood spent listening to blues musicians such as Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker, Rag ’n’ Bone Man – real name Rory Graham – joined Brighton rap group The Rum Collective. Graham lived in London for a few years but eventually moved back to Uckfield, as he told The Guide this week. See page 24 for our full interview with the rising star.


Often referred to as the “Godfather of grime”, Wiley has been a fixture in the rap scene for 20 years. He is a major influence on hip-hop artists such as Dizzee Rascal and Tinchy Stryder. After starting out in rap crew Roll Deep, Wiley has gone on to release 12 studio albums.

Shoreham Airport, June 9 and 10. Tickets are on sale from 10am today. Visit: