DJ Fatboy Slim beginning residency at Marquee Dayclub


Fatboy Slim hasn't performed in America in a long time. But on Sunday, the superstar British DJ begins a new residency gig at Marquee's pool Dayclub, inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

I rang up Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, and asked what he wants everyone to know.

"Hi America," he answered as chipper as could be. "I'm back. Let's pick up where we left off!"

In the late 1990s, Fatboy Slim transcended his DJ label and became a pop music star because of his very catchy hits "The Rockafeller Skank," "Praise You" and "Weapon of Choice" (that's the music video where Christopher Walken dances about).

This made Fatboy Slim one of only a few big-beat electronic artists on the American pop scene at the time, along with the Prodigy ("Firestarter") and the Chemical Brothers ("Setting Sun").

Looking back, Cook says they crossed over because they were rock-friendly.

"As DJs, we couldn't believe we could go and play in rock venues, and we could play Red Rocks and Woodstock," he says.

Also in hindsight, though, doing so was somewhat troubling.

"We tried to take dance music into rock venues, which maybe wasn't the best idea, with the benefit of hindsight," he says. "It got quite scary, like, 'What are we doing here?' "

So after his flush of American pop success, Cook purposely moved toward crafting house music with less crossover appeal.

"I went a bit willfully obscure, rather than carry out the balls-out, party-Fatboy side of it," he says.

His sales in America dropped.

"Which at the time, I was quite happy about! It took the pressure off me."

Now, a decade-plus later, DJ music finally has a better footing in American clubs and dance-pop radio. Dance music is popular in itself, and not just conforming with pop music (although, it does that, too).

"A residency in Vegas is one of those showbiz boxes I've yet to tick in my 25-year career," Cook says. "It's nice to get back in clubs."

Many of his DJ friends have told Cook how great it is to spin here, he says.

But he doesn't have much experience with the city, other than coming for a wedding and giving the bride away "in one of those Elvis chapels."

Cook arrives as a nondrinker. He's been off the sauce for two years.

This is a good thing, he promises.

"I'm looking forward to spending more than 24 hours (in Vegas) without hating myself and everyone around me," he says and laughs at himself.

"I'm still not drinking," he says. "It's working out for me. I've got this euphoric recall of 30 years of hard-core partying. I only need two people upfront to start digging about, and it all brings it back into my brain."

Another good thing about sobriety is he travels more, because he actually goes to bed between flights, he jokes.

He's touring a lot this year. In fact, he will fly in and out of Vegas this first weekend, he says.

"It's the world's worst commute" between Vegas and England, he supposes. "It's not the cushy Vegas night I thought it was gonna be."

Of all the DJs I've interviewed lately, Cook gives me the most succinct breakdown of the difference between day gigs and nightclubs.

"If you get it right," he says, "it's a more bouncy, than aggressive, nature. It's more about smiles than grimaces."

Cook -- who has a stellar "Las Vegas Take Over Mix" for free download on Fatboyslim.net -- expects to perform a fun music set, "as long as it doesn't get too blokey and beery."

"The difference between the daytime Vegas set and the festival set is," he vows, "I'll be playing to the ladies, rather than the boys."

Look at that. He understands the Vegas club scene already.

Doug Elfman's column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Contact him at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.

 

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