Bestival founder Rob da Bank is passionate about ensuring that everyone has a magical time at the festival he runs with his wife Josie (whose surname is also da Bank, in case you were wondering). One of the many projects Rob looks after at Bestival is the Replay With Rob Da Bank stage, which he gets pretty excited about. “Last year we really went to town on the ‘Replay with Rob da Bank’ stage with some amazing bands making it one of the most popular stages we’ve ever had, with insane performances from the likes of Alt-J tearing the place apart. This year’s no different, we’ve gone full steam ahead and booked one of the best line-ups of exciting and fresh music that you’re likely to see all year long, with The 1975, Swim Deep, Merchandise and Jagwar Ma amongst many I ‘d recommend. Make sure you don’t miss out on this one, it’s gonna be big,” says Rob. You can find out more about the artists on the Replay With Rob Da Bank Stage right here on the Replay Tumblr, and we caught up with the man himself, Rob da Bank to find out just why he loves this annual event so much, with just one month to go until Bestival 2013.
Hi Rob. You’ve been doing Bestival for the past decade, and it’s grown from 10,000 people to the current (maximum) 55,000 attendees – and that’s not including the crew. How difficult is it for you to maintain personal input on a festival this big now?
Rob da Bank: We really control and oversee everything, from which traders are there, where the toilets are put, camping space, when the acts are on, changeover times. It’s still very much a DIY, family-run show.
Where do you go to get ideas and inspiration for Bestival?
RdB: I love all festivals. I like the competition, so we’re just trying to have the best new music, most exciting stages, loads of things for people to see and do. Our core team are all actively looking all year round for inspiration. We send people up to the Edinburgh Festival to see some of the kids shows, or for example, I’m up in Manchester at the moment at a festival. I’m not spying though, I’m working!
What about all the crazy things to see and do at the festival that aren’t music-based; where do you find those elements of Bestival?
RdB: Luckily since we’ve been doing it for 10 years, now it’s more about people getting in touch with us, sending us ideas, and we just have to say ‘yes, that sounds fantastic.’ So it looks like it’s all been created by Bestival, when actually other people need to take the credit!
How do all the interesting jobs and projects you’ve done in your career so far contribute to the planning of Bestival?
RdB: I started off as a music journalist and then started DJing and set up a record label; so it’s all fed into the Bestival tree. I guess the main thing I can offer, that no one else really does at Bestival, is that I’ve got contacts and connections to different agents and managers for DJs and artists, so in the early days when we first started I would beg and borrow people for the first festival. Now we’re known for having such a huge amount of acts, 400 acts over the weekend, and it’s not about quantity, but I like a lot of choice - for people to get to see a lot of different things. I love it when I hear people talking the week before, saying ‘I can’t believe it Robbie, I’ve got 72 acts on my finder that I wanna see!’.
Finally, what does it feel like for you in the final run up to Bestival each year, and over the weekend itself?
RdB: The adrenaline is definitely pumping, there’s always a glass of wine or two each night, my mind’s racing and we only really get the full site a week before. The main site is a real pile-on and you’ve only got a week to do it: come rain or shine the whole show needs to go up!
I get to relax a little bit more than I used to; the first Bestival was just mayhem and carnage, I didn’t handle it too well. Now there’s just this nervous energy, you can’t really eat much - in two days you might have a plate of chips, but you get back out there and don’t have much sleep either. Ideally I want to see everything right through until 4 in the morning, and then I’m back up by 7 or 8am, checking the ground, checking toilets are suitably clean, working on autopilot. I’m exhausted but hopefully quite happy. Then I start to enjoy it by the Sunday, watching the headliner and get a really good feeling. For Stevie Wonder last year we got all our crew together and watched him with a few drinks. We were just really happy; that’s the payback. Then it takes about 3 weeks for my head to get back into normal shape!
Catch acts like Merchandise, JAWS and Lewis Watson at the REPLAY With Rob Da Bank stage at Bestival (5-8 September 2013)
For more from Rob da Bank, check out his interview with District MTV