What’s Cookin’?

Jaq Bayles October 9, 2021

Jaq Bayles meets Woody Cook, whose new media company aims to ‘give back’ and create a community

He’s been a familiar face to viewers of The Circle and Gogglebox, but Woody Cook is determined not to be a “one-trick pony, the guy who does all the shows”, turning down other offers of TV appearances in favour of concentrating on his record label/media company, Truth Tribe.

The son of Fatboy Slim (Norman Cook) and Zoe Ball has also been active in raising money for the Brighton Rainbow Fund, performing DJ sets in phone boxes during Pride week following his public coming out a few years ago as bi – and that has come with its own set of revelations.

“Suddenly my followers went up. I was looking at the ratios and it had been 50:50 men and women, but it went to 80% men, 20% women. I had nothing but positive responses, which is really refreshing. The only negative is guys sending me photos of feet. It’s a new thing – everyone suddenly really likes feet. I don’t understand it, it scares me. I had a message saying, ‘I really love you on Gogglebox, but next time can you take your socks off’. It’s weird.”

Weirdness aside, Woody does reveal that coming out initially at school he got bullied, and this was one of the reasons he wanted to get involved in a Pride event.

The outspoken 20-year-old says: “People are still afraid to come out to their parents. People go ‘Why are we still talking about Pride’ – because the journey’s not over. It’s the same with BLM, they are still battles that are being fought, people are still getting beaten up. Someone in Spain got killed the other day for being gay. It’s ridiculous. And because Pride in my home city wasn’t on, I was like, we need some pride, we need something to celebrate. It’s the heart and soul of Brighton, having a big party and love-in in the street. I wanted to give a little bit back. It’s the place that raised me and I am bisexual and want to see everyone being proud of themselves. I’d love to help out in any way I can.

“One of the first Prides I went to dad was getting ready to play and I said ‘Dad you’re not gay’, and he explained you don’t have to be gay, it’s about unity. I found out later he was playing for free because it was about to go under, they couldn’t find a headline act, they weren’t selling the tickets and he stepped in.

“I’m not trying to copy him but he set a good example,” says Woody, who admits he was a bit delayed in picking up the DJ decks because “obviously I didn’t want to be Fatboy Son”.

But now: “I know where I’m going in my life, it’s a stepping-stone on a longer journey. I don’t mind if people go ‘Oh it’s Fatboy Son’ or ‘lightning doesn’t strike twice’, because I’ve got stuff cooking that’s very unlike what my dad makes, all behind the scenes, it could take a couple of years to come out. I’m playing the long game.”

Woody is passionate about uniting people through his company, putting musicians together with other musicians and producers, to ensure they make the most of their talents, especially for his “lost generation”.

“Truth Tribe is about getting in touch with community events and giving back. So many people are lost – we’re the lost generation. Social media is making us all less social; my aim is to reunite as many people as possible. Everything we do in our society is dismantling community. We used to be on football teams, clubs, and there’s nothing anymore, everything is stripped back. We live in houses on our own, sometimes we don’t even talk to neighbours. We’re meant to be tribes, hence Truth Tribe. Western society has taught us this model and a lot of people who are depressed, the problem’s not with them it’s with the way we’re living.”

While he admits he spent most of his early adolescence playing video games, he’s always liked creating things – cardboard forts, a tree house in Ashdown Forest. He’d invite friends to the woods and while they wanted to sit around drinking he’d be “hammering, it was my Zen”.

He continues: “[My friends were saying] how do you build all this stuff with things you’ve found in skips? That’s my artwork, so hopefully in the next two or three years I’ll have my own festival, me and my friends running it and where I build it all myself.”

His festival will be called Gratitude in an obvious nod to Latitude, but also because he thinks “gratitude is one of the most important things in life. What we all missed in lockdown was just these little moments, seeing your mates, live music, hugging a stranger, these little moments that can make all the difference in your working week.”

He had originally planned the festival for this August, and is still hoping to do something this year, but “it won’t be in a field”.

He’s excited how trends return, with the ‘90s, his parents’ time, next on the list. “Peace and love in the ‘60s is coming back as well. We’re on the verge of a new age; I’m slap bang in the right moment to make a difference. I’ve got the perfect basis to build something that I think can make a difference.”