Last month, Greta Thunberg gave a speech to the United Nations Climate Action summit in New York. "We will not let you get away with this," she said. "Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not." Footage of the impassioned speech was soon shared many thousands of times on social media. So far, so predictable.
But Greta's words have since gained an altogether different kind of immortality. Musician David Scott from South African band The Kiffness has created a mash-up of the conclusion of her speech and Fatboy Slim's 1998 club anthem, Right Here, Right Now. The original video, which was posted on Tuesday, September 24 and features footage of collapsing icebergs and forest fires, has already been "liked" nearly 25,000 times on Instagram, while various versions of the remix have amassed well over a million plays on YouTube.
Now, Fatboy Slim, whose real name is Norman Cook, has incorporated the remix into his DJ set. On top of all her other achievements this year, it looks very much as if Greta Thunberg will also become the unlikely voice of 2019’s club scene.
The Greta Thunberg remix: the good comments vs the bad
"When I saw [the video], I got goose-bumps, it's a powerful message," Cook told The National. "It feels like there's been a shift in the way that young people are addressing the current climate change issue. Older people can go, 'Oh no, it won't happen in our lifetime,' or, 'We can do nothing about it', but the young people are like, 'We're here to stay [and] this thing is here to stay unless we do something about it now.'" Or rather, Right Here, Right Now.
When Cook posted the video of the remix on the official Fatboy Slim Facebook page, however, it wasn’t long before negative comments started appearing. Cook believes that the vitriol is less about climate change and more about Greta’s public profile.
“A lot of people don’t like Greta Thunberg because they feel she’s too young or comes from too privileged a white background to be talking about serious issues,” says Cook. “But I think this is too important [an issue] for people to be sniping. I’ve got a nine-year-old daughter and she is really, really concerned because her world could end. For the older people it’s not quite so bad. It’s too important to worry about whether or not you think Greta Thunberg is the right spokesperson.”
Expect an appearance of the remix when Fatboy Slim plays in Dubai
The Right Here, Right Now remix is staying in Cook's record bag, then, and is sure to be played when Fatboy Slim headlines the opening night of Party in the Park in Dubai on Thursday, October 31. Cook, who has played in the UAE many times before, wants to ensure he creates a carnival atmosphere. "It's just a big Halloween party," he says. "We've got all the production bells and whistles. I'm not promoting my new album, it's just an excuse to have a big party with the good people of Dubai.
“I come at least every couple of years, even if I’ve not got a record out or anything. There’s a continuing relationship that I have with the place. I’ve been playing [in Dubai] for 20 years and watching how the city grows. It’s amazing because it’s such a melting pot of the different expats that come and shape it. I’ve seen it carving out its own identity.”
It is not just Dubai's identity that continues to change. Cook, too, has reinvented himself many times during a career that spans nearly four decades. During the 1980s, he was the bassist in indie band The Housemartins, who in 1986 had a number one single with their cover of Isley-Jasper-Isley's Caravan of Love. In 1988, The Housemartins split up. Any chance of a reunion? "There's never a nice moment for a Housemartins reunion," says Cook, laughing. "We swore we never would. We're still friends but every time we get together, it just reaffirms the fact that there's no point going back. We're all happier doing what we do now."
How Fatboy Slim arrived on the clubbing scene, and stayed there
Following the split, Cook quickly formed Beats International and soon had another number one single with the soul-infused, club favourite Dub Be Good to Me. This announced Cook's arrival onto the UK clubbing scene and he has been a mainstay ever since.
There have been plenty of different vehicles for Cook's creative output, including Freak Power, Pizzaman and The Mighty Dub Katz. But it is as Fatboy Slim that he is best known. His big beat album You've Come a Long Way, Baby, which includes Right Here, Right Now and Praise You, went to the top of the UK albums chart in 1998 and sold over three million copies worldwide. This was followed in 2000 by another top 10 album, Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars.
These were heady days for Cook, who has made no secret of his love for a thoroughly good knees up. “I left no stone unturned for 30 years,” he says. “I don’t think there is anything I didn’t do during that time that I’d like to do.”
Now 56 and with two children (both from his marriage to the radio DJ Zoe Ball), however, things are slightly different – quieter, anyway. Before performing, Cook says he enjoys nothing stronger than a couple of Red Bulls. "I don the Hawaiian shirt, throw off the shoes and that's I all need these days," he explains. "I get excited by being in close proximity to so many young people, who are having fun. That alone is enough to get me going.
"After the show, I'm normally spent. I've been larking around for two hours on stage, it's quite a physical performance, so I'm quite happy to go to bed […] When I wake up in the morning with a clear head, then you thank yourself."
Not that he’s forgotten how to enjoy himself, of course. “When I’m on stage I kind of go back to the craziness of the old days,” he says. “Just for two hours – and without the physical side effects.”
Fatboy Slim headlines Party in the Park on Thursday, October 31; tickets from Dh250; Dubai Media City Amphitheatre, www.partyinthepark.ae