Hey Norman, how’s it going? Glad to be back in Australia? Oh boy, you don’t know. I come every year, but this year’s particularly special for me as I’m supporting my first ever compilation album out in Australia.
It’s your first mixed CD in about 15 years. Why do one now? Yeah, it’s something like that. You’ve obviously done your homework! Well the opportunity presented itself. And I was advised that the Australian market would like it.
Do you still have the same passion for playing live? Yeah I’ll never get bored of that, I was born to do that. Nobody’s going to give me a desk job at my age! While there are people out there that want me to come and play for them, then I’ll continue to do it. And even if the day comes when nobody wants to come and hear it I’ll still be playing my music anyway. I was doing it before I had audiences and I’ll probably be doing it long after the audiences have gone.
What keeps bringing you back to Australia? It’s the outdoor lifestyle, dare I say it you know, England in the sun. It’s fantastic. You have an open air culture for parties and festivals, which we do have [in the UK] but we don’t necessarily get the weather. I love the mixture of people, the sense of space and freedom. And you know, Australian crowds, particularly in Sydney, have always been very kind to me. Just accepting for what I do. They’ve all shown a lot of love and for that I’m eternally grateful.
Would you ever move down here? In an ideal world I’d love to, but I can’t because my career is based in the UK.
You’re playing the Playground Weekender again this year. It’s very much your type of festival yeah? Yeah, because basically the guys who organise it come to England every year. They see me performing at the Big Chill and the Weekender is kind of loosely based on the UK’s Big Chill which is kind of a niche event. Their music is probably a lot more relaxed and eclectic. Playgrounder has got it just right I think, there’s something for everyone. Like my philosophy, I aim to please most of the people most of the time.
You’ve got a reputation for being super down to earth, but you must meet a lot of big egos in your industry Yeah I do, but they don’t bother me because as long as they don’t perceive me as a threat to them, they’re certainly no threat to me. I’ve worked with so many people, particularly DJs, who don’t want to be on the same set, even the same stage as each other, but I’ve never had a problem with them and they’ve never had a problem with me. I don’t feel threatened by anybody, however big, however small. Everyone’s equal in my eye, whether it’s some nervous kid warming up or Paul Oakenfold or Carl Cox, it doesn’t make any difference to me. Every DJ is equal.
From warehouse parties to setting up Kiss FM, you were central to a pretty big movement. How was it? Back then there was no rules, we were writing the rulebook basically. We went with instinct and a kind of punk rock attitude. We did things because we liked it, because we could.
Do you vary your set depending on the audience? Any proper DJ tweaks. First rule of a DJ is to make friends with the dance floor as soon as possible. Once that’s done and they begin to trust you, then you can give them more of yourself, but in the beginning it’s about your crowd. It’s them that queue, it’s them that buy the tickets. You can have the best music in the world, but if there’s nobody there to appreciate it then it’s a complete waste of time. It’s not about the music or the DJ, it’s about the people that come, they’re the real stars.
Is that still a challenge or second nature now? Music presents you with so many options, you know, why eat meat every day when three’s a menu to go through. Norman plays the Playground Weekender, at Wiseman’s Ferry near Sydney, February 18-21. His new album, Good Times Australia is out now, through Central Station Records.