Rob Da Bank is a workaholic, no doubt about it. Not content with planning Bestival for the 15th consecutive year, he also has Camp Bestival (a more family friendly version) and Common People (a two-site, day festival type) just around the corner. And if 3 festivals wasn’t enough, he’s taken Bestival to Toronto and Bali over the last few years. If ever there’s going to be a festival out in space, place your bets on it being Bestival Mars.
Bestival‘s seen a few changes over the last couple of years, changing site from Isle of Wight to Dorset last year, and changing dates from September to August this year, and still it continues to deliver with some of the most unique, impressive line-ups. This year, however, there were a few questions about the Friday headliner, Silk City, so we had a chat with Rob about it, as well as possible future headliners, and East 17‘s Christmas Party…
Bestival has never been a festival to follow the rules, but this year you’ve gone one better by booking an act to headline who haven’t released a single track yet. Is this the biggest Bestival risk yet?
*lots of laughter* I hadn’t thought about it like that! I mean, to be frank, when we originally booked them they were going to be announced with everything else, and I think everyone would have just been like – cool, who’s this Friday headliner? I think the trouble is, at the moment there’s no music to listen to. Obviously it’s Diplo and Mark Ronson, so it’s going to be pretty good! But at the moment it’s a bit mysterious. I think it’s a really great booking – I know some people think it’s just two DJs but it’s going to be a lot more than that. We need to just wait and see… There’s an element of risk I suppose.
Are other festivals playing it too safe?
*more laughter* Probably. Maybe. You just have to have a thick skin in this game. Everyone’s got an opinion on who they think should be a headliner. One person’s Arctic Monkeys is another person’s Silk City, or another person’s Kendrick Lamar. I’m not saying those are all comparable size-wise, I just think people get too wound up about one act or a couple of acts, and don’t look at the bigger picture. I’m really proud of the Bestival line-up as a whole. I think it’s one of our broadest line-ups yet.
Have you had a sneak peak at what Silk City’s material sounds like, and if so what can the crowd expect?
No one’s really heard anything. I know through their management that it’s a disco-related vibe, maybe a bit older than the typical Diplo sound. It’s not going to be trap or a Major Laser sound, it’s going to be a bit more sophisticated, sort of like Chic and Nile Rodgers. I think it’ll have a classic vibe to it; I’m imagining a kind of junior Daft Punk, but let’s wait and see.
Any idea when they’re putting some music out?
Around early spring, in a month or two. I know there definitely putting out before Governors Ball which is in June, so I think we’ll get a good run up before Bestival. They might have had 5 number one singles by the time Bestival comes round, then everyone will be eating their words!
Bestival’s probably been through more changes in the last 3 years than any other UK festival.
It’s been a pretty mad rollercoaster. Some of it happened because it had to, some of it we chose. We’re much happier now that we’re in August, and a lot of people have told us a lot of reasons why it’s better for them. We were a bit unlucky with the weather last year, but apart from that people loved the new site and the new layout. And we’ve got ideas of how to change it again without taking away any of the Bestival magic. Nothing ever sits still in festival land – you can’t just trot out the same things in the same site every year because people will get bored. We like to keep people on their toes.
How far ahead are you planing? You read about Glastonbury booking their 2020 headliner…
Crikey. That’s worrying. I’ve literally just come through four months of probably the most stressful booking process for all our festivals, which was panning out nicely, then it all sort of falls apart 3 or 4 times, and then you end up with where we are. To be honest, I work a bit shorter time frame than that, but am very aware that we need to be planning further ahead… I need to get my arse in gear!
Although, the benefit of the way you do it is that you would have had no idea about Silk City if you would have booked your headliners two years ago, so you can be a bit more current.
That’s true. And we’re not Glastonbury – we’re not going to be booking Coldplay or The Rolling Stones. We have to think smaller than that. At the same time the competition is so fierce you have to be ahead of the game sometimes. We take it as it comes, but I’m definitely starting to get some ideas for next year already.
I’ve got my fingers crossed for Elton coming back as part of his farewell tour!
I have as well! Yeah, he actually said if he did come back it’d be the only festival he did so let’s hope he stick to his word. Elton, if you’re reading this…
I’m sure he will be. There’s been a lot of good feedback about the amount of females on the line-up this year. Are there any women who’ve yet to headline that you have your eyes on for a future Bestival?
I’ll be honest, we really tried for Christine and The Queens a few months ago, but as the music wasn’t ready she wasn’t committing to any shows. But from Nadia Rose to Stefflon Don, Mabel… It’s so difficult to have a crystal ball and know what’s going to happen. I remember when we first booked Florence and The Machine and she played to 300 people in a tiny tent, and 2 years later she was headlining the whole festival. Hopefully there’s a female on this year’s line up that will be a future headliner.
One thing I’ve got to ask about is East 17’s Christmas Party. Can you reveal anything about that?
It was around Christmas when I was booking and I just kept hearing East 17, as you do… We like doing different things; we’ve got the world’s biggest disco ball, we’ve got the world’s biggest confetti cannon, we’ve got stages shaped as temples, and we just like to do things you wouldn’t see at any other festival. It’s going to be on HMS Bestival, which is the ship-shiped stage that has a lot of cabaret and mad, flamboyant stuff. Faithless are DJing, there’s Jaguar Skills… And East 17 doing a Christmas party! So there’ll be a lot of tinsel and a lot of sherry and mince pies. The full works, really.
Before we go, I have to say thanks for having Duran Duran headline 2015 – it was a dream of mine to see them heading a UK festival. But I’ve got a suggestion for the future: The B-52’s.
Funnily enough I was listening to Planet Claire yesterday – they’ve always been on my list but they’ve not been around at the right time. I’m a big fan so watch this space…
So there we have it: Elton John, Christine & The Queens and The B-52s for Bestival 2019. You (haven’t really) read it here first. But to be in with a chance of seeing Silk City, London Grammar and M.I.A. headlining Bestival 2018, head to our Facebook page and look out for the pinned post.
T&Cs: The prize is 2 tickets to Bestival 2018. Competition closes at midnight on Sunday 18th March 2018. Entries must be 18 or over. The winner will be picked at random, and notified by Sunday 25th March 2018. Please ensure your Facebook settings allow your share to be seen.