Norman Cook, the celebrity DJ better known as Fatboy Slim, talks big money, new fame and old vinyl with GRAHAM REID.

Here's a surprise from Norman Cook - aka Fatboy Slim - the man whose cross-over dance music has made him one of the highest paid and most popular DJs and producers in the world. Fatboy is taking a break from making albums.

"He's taken over my life the last five years. I thought about what to do on the next album and I didn't have any idea. So there's no point in doing one when I'm not inspired. Also as soon as I do one I'm committed to six or seven months promoting it around the world. With my son [15-month-old Woody], I don't really want to do it until he's a bit older."

Not that Norman Cook will be bored in the downtime from Fatboy Slim. After being delayed by singer Damon Albarn's side-project Gorillaz, the next Blur album is all go again with Cook producing; and there will be the inevitable remixes.

"I've done nine in the last three months. So I've been in the studio a lot, but not doing the Fatboy thing. I'm just enjoying doing different things."

Fatboy Slim has hardly disappeared. Last week saw the release of Live On Brighton Beach, an album which captures Cook behind the decks and before an audience of around 40,000, the biggest gig he'd ever played and one special to him as a hometown boy. Cook has lived - most recently with his celebrity wife Zoe Ball of the BBC's Radio One - in Brighton for the past 20 years.

"Brighton's very proud of me because traditionally people from Brighton, as soon as they become famous, move to London. Not only did I not move to London I still make all my records in Brighton and still live and DJ here. And I managed to convince my wife to move down.

"Most of the culture is based around hedonism and clubs and it's also very compact, quite cosmopolitan, and has a big gay population. I don't get bothered here, I'm just part of the furniture. In summer it's like the English Riviera.

"Zoe loves it because in London she couldn't really move around because people stare or hassle whereas in Brighton everyone's really friendly because she moved here rather than dragging me off to London.

"Until I met her I had a degree of anonymity because I'm never in my videos and I try to keep out of the papers. A lot of people knew my name but very few knew what I looked like, especially when the Fatboy Slim thing started to take off everyone thought it was a band. Since we've become this celebrity couple I do get recognised a lot more."

But maybe as a "celebrity couple" you have to drink with Liam and Noel Gallagher?

"That's what I thought, but apparently it's not obligatory," he laughs.

Cook is an affable guy who makes no great claims for his music - despite it selling millions of albums and earning him truckloads of the folding stuff.

"The sums of money to play records for two hours are crazy. On the millennium eve I really didn't want to work and told everyone that. They thought I was holding out for more money, but I just wanted to spend it with my family. But the prices went up and got to the point where it would have been stupid not to do it for one night's work.

"Sometimes I do it just to be able to tell Woody when he grows up that's what I used to be able to earn."

Cook describes his music as simply cross-over dance based on what is being played in clubs, but with a catchy hook: "For me the perfect pop record is one where if you took off the hook it's quite a credible club tune, but then it's got this catchy chorus your gran could hum in the shower.

"I like the fact it's accessible. I've turned quite a few people on to dance who previously only liked rock or pop music. Maybe they've explored dance a bit more and it's opened their minds. I've got no problem with crossing over as long as I don't water down the music."

One way his music, as with that of Moby, has crossed out of the dance market is through being used in advertisements which he sees as not selling out but infiltrating popular culture by another means.

He's never written specifically for ads other than once, a few years ago, when a track from his former outfit Freakpower was used in a Levi's ad, a disastrous experience: "Advertising people don't understand music, they wanted to edit it and I said, 'Let me' but it was the worst 48 hours of my life. You send it to them and they come back and say, 'Can you just take two seconds out of that bit?' It doesn't work like that, it's music and works in bar lines! It was frustrating and I felt like I was prostituting myself."

These days his music is used on so many ads internationally he can't keep up and is only precious about what they use in Britain: "I don't want to switch on the telly and have my mates see some crap advert for something I consider rubbish. But outside the UK they don't bother asking me directly, there wouldn't be enough hours in the day to respond."

He notes ad agencies now pick up his pre-release tunes which have been sampled to DJs and they are on ads before the songs are officially released. Agencies employ people to tell them what the kids are listening to and leap on new trends, often before they've been established. The worst thing to happen to drum'n'bass was it ended up on so many ads it ceased to be an underground music.

"But I wouldn't class my music as underground so I don't think it ruins the mystique of it or anything."

Yet part of the Cook mystique is the obscure samples he uses. He never samples anything that was a hit ("you have to pay way more for it") and is dismissive of the likes of Puff Daddy using a Police sample as too easy. He scours secondhand shops in the States for albums recorded between 1970 and 76 because "pre-1970 the production wasn't that hot and after 76 everything went disco and got crass. So it's that period in the middle when people were taking the most drugs and there was a crossover between rock and funk".

"I go by the haircuts on the cover, if they've got Afros and beards that's it. A 10 piece multi-racial band with Afros, that I'll buy."

But when it comes to copyright clearances he often meets those burned by their brief encounter with the music industry: "I've found old rappers who were janitors and they are really happy that someone has listened to them. Sometimes they want to be in the video but ... "

But maybe there will be fewer Fatboy videos anyway, and not even as much Fatboy live for a little while - although the temptations of those ridiculous amounts of money can still get him behind the decks. And he not only still loves it, but needs it even more.

"It's funny because everyone - including me - wanted to know whether I was going to calm down and be a stay-at-home dad. But what's happened is I'm dad during the week then I get on a plane and DJ somewhere and party even harder. I've been dad all week and I really want to let loose, that Friday feeling. I'm remembering more now why people go out and party at weekends, because I only do it at weekends now, too."

* Fatboy Slim's Live On Brighton Beach is out now.