Fatboy Slim says he was ‘on autopilot’ during infamous Brighton Beach party
Fatboy Slim has revealed he was “completely on autopilot” during his infamous Big Beach Boutique II concert in Brighton.
The 59-year-old DJ and record producer – whose real name is Norman Cook – hosted the second of his free open-air concerts in July 2002, attracting a quarter of a million people to join him in the British seaside town.
Fatboy Slim has reflected on the impact of the concert – which followed the success of the original Big Beach Boutique concert in 2001 – as part of an upcoming Sky documentary.
“Looking back, I don’t remember much about the actual gig. I must have been completely on autopilot,” he said.
“It wasn’t the most relaxed I’d been, because I was aware that we were potentially, if anything went wrong, we could be in a lot of trouble, safety-wise.
“What I do remember is just feeding off the energy of the crowd.”
Right Here, Right Now is set to look back on the mammoth beach party – which was initially only expected to pull in a crowd of 60,000 – and features interviews with those who were there to witness it first hand.
Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Vernon Kay and John Simm all feature, giving accounts of their personal experiences of the gathering and remembering what it was like to be part of the crowd that was more than four times the expected size, and, at the time, doubling Brighton’s population for the day.
During the documentary, which will air on Sky Documentaries next month, Fatboy Slim, who helped popularise the big beat genre, recalled how the original Big Beach Boutique started, saying: “In 2001 we get a phone call from Channel 4 all about cricket … they were coming down to Brighton to show one of the Test matches and they had a sound system for the commentary and a big screen.
“They just phoned me up and said, ‘As Brighton’s representative of dance music, do you wanna DJ an after-party free for the people of Brighton to have a little dance on the beach?’
“We lost the cricket on day two, so no-one came and watched the cricket. But an awful lot of people came to the after-party.”
Following the success of the first party, Fatboy Slim decided to host a second instalment, Big Beach Boutique II.
Speaking about having to work with the police to ensure the gig could go ahead, Fatboy Slim said: “I could see from the police’s faces, they’re like, ‘we are overwhelmed here’. So I’ve prepared myself mentally that it’s going to be snatched away.
“I think they took me into one of the portacabins and they sat me down and said, ‘Right, we’re going to go ahead with it, but only…’
“I said, ‘Only because it’s more dangerous not to do it? Because you’ve got all those people there, and they’ve all been drinking all day, and they’re happy. And if you shut the place down, they’ll be unhappy and it could be ugly?’ And they said, ‘Yes’.”
The Praise You DJ also explained what continues to drive him after such an extensive career, saying: “I’m still doing this because I genuinely love it.”
He added: “Something happens where the room just becomes this one mass of energy, and that’s what gives me my energy. I kind of feed off that.
“It’s something that drives me along and something that I am very grateful that I’ve been allowed to do for so long.”
Right Here, Right Now can be seen on Sky Documentaries and streaming site Now from February 4 at 10pm.