In the run up of the 9th Bestival, there is a rush of organisation to create the perfect end to a summer season of festivals. The cancellation of Frank Ocean will no way dent the success of Bestival, and this week a few more acts such as the legendary Beardyman have been added to the wealth of talent. DJ wise, it has been announced this week that Bestival will once again welcome Zane Lowe, and The creative side to Bestival 2012 is (as always) on top form too. For instance, Platform-One – an independent, not-for-profits youth arts organisation specialising in arts initiatives and training opportunities for young people on the Isle of Wight has joined the troops. They will introduce some new bands to the pipeline, keeping the festival fresh and full of raw talent. Ruby Wax has also been added to line up, keeping the comedy line up at high end this year!
We caught up with master and curator extraordinaire, Rob da Bank, for a quick chat as he raced around London organising the final details of Bestival 2012….
GBC Mag: Let’s crack on then, are you excited for Moodymann’s set and his roller disco crew to be at Bestival this year?
Rob da Bank: Yeah totally! The roller disco is one of the newest stages at Bestival, and when I envisiaged the roller disco it was very much with Moodymann in mind! I’m really chuffed that we found him, and we’re flying over 4 of his roller dancers! He twisted our arm saying he wasn’t going to do it unless we flew them over, so we had no choice!
How has the Bollywood Tent been revamped for this year?
It was unveiled at Camp Bestival this year, and the Bollywood bar is where the heart of Bestival is, it’s the main DJ dance bit. Obviously there are much bigger stages but its still very much the beating heart of Bestival. We’ve got this amazing bus that’s been transformed into this crazy Bollywood bus, and we’ve got this enormous fisade to make it look like a mad Bollywood cinema…loads of elephant heads! You can either just chill on it or you can have a cocktail!
Wicked. Two words; Stevie Wonder- how do you feel about him playing this year?!
Yeah with 3 weeks to go its dawning on me, we’ve gone a lot of work to get to this stage! Jesus, in 3 weeks time we’ll be watching Stevie Wonder; pretty incredible news! Its always a tense time when you’re gearing up for the show, you want everything to go right, you want the weather to be ok etc, it’s always a tense moment!
Great choice having Gilles Peterson to warm up for Stevie Wonder, how did you pick him?
Yeah, I saw Gilles out and about and was thinking about it. I was going to do it but I’m always too worried about everything else that is going on and I think Gilles has got much bigger musical heritage in terms of what Stevie might want to hear. I played before The Cure came on last year, to like 40,000 people and I thought I want it to go right, and musically Gilles knows his onions. I’m sure he’s going to rinse it!
Were there a few people trying to get that spot or was it an easy choice?
It was a fairly easy choice, he didn’t ask me, I asked him!
What will you be eating, drinking and wearing at Bestival?
I’ll be eating my friends Paella, their paella stall is called Paelleria and my wife had the idea that they set up a paella stall at the festival and they’ve been having a great time since! Drinking some kind of Bollywood cocktail in the brand new Bollywood bus that you’ve just pointed out! Wearing; well I’ve got various different outfits. I’m going as a sparrow one day, an ant on another day and I’ve got to come up with something for the third day!
What hidden gems and more undercover things are there to discover at Bestival this year?
There’s loads, I’m not going to tell you about them all though! The Ambient Forest was a bit of a hidden gem that people only really started to discover last year- we’ve expanded that. We’ve got the Amphitheatre which is a whole woodland cinema, with a David Lynch screening. We’ve got this new grand Cabaret Palace of Entertainment which is going to be a massive cabaret! Loads of stuff; we have midgets serving miniature cocktails in the wishing tree, a hidden disco somewhere on sight,. Part of the thing at Bestival is discovery, and getting in there, using your mind and getting in amongst it and finding out all the hidden bits so hopefully anyone that’s coming will find some hidden treasures!
So the theatricality and creativity is as important to the festival as the music?
Yeah even more than ever, we’ve spent about a million quid on creative ideas, not just bands. Its very much Josie, my wife, who tries to keep fresh news ideas coming in. Every year theres loads of fresh new ideas, Bloco is a really big idea for us this year- taken from Rio Carnival, there are Bloco’s in parades and you join a Bloco and become part of that team for the weekend…its really taken off this year!
We hear that Frank Ocean has dropped out, will you be replacing him with Pussy Riot?
Haha that’s a good idea actually if they weren’t in jail. I’m obviously gutted that he’s not playing but I don’t think anyone bought a ticket just on the strength of Frank Ocean. I also never want to replace one thing with another because I think, its like who can replace Frank Ocean? If you say this person or that person it can be insulting to both parties, and some people will go ‘oh that’s a shit replacement’ and other people will say ‘oh that’s amazing’ so we’re going to have a some more acts, a few more surprises up our sleaves so I don’t think anyone will be lacking in music over the weekend!
So who are you really looking forward to seeing at the weekend?
The headliners; Florence, Stevie, New Order, The XX, Sigur Rós, obviously. Then some of the smaller acts like Luna George, Clock Opera, Scroobius Pip, Diagrams…
Brilliant, are you excited about the Replay Stage with Alt-J this year?
Alt-J yes! I am very excited about them. That whole stage is pretty much up and coming, cool, bands that I’m tipping for bigger things so Alt-J is just one of the acts on there that I think are going to be on a much bigger stage next year.
Great, and it’s the 9th Bestival this year! How has it changed since it began?
It’s obviously got a lot bigger since the first year but its definitely kept its heart of good music, fun and eccentricity. We’ve kept a lot of the original crowd going, a lot of people come to Bestival every year, they’ve been to 3 or 4 or even 9 Bestivals. That’s really important to us. I think what has changed is that we’ve kept ahead of the game. We haven’t just sorted of settled…every year we reinvent it and that’s why get 18/20 year olds coming for their first festival and that’s really important to me. I don’t want it to turn into an old dusters festival where our crowd is dying off every year, I want to keep it really fresh. I want it to feel like a comfortable safe place, for older people, people with kids, and I want everyone to come to Bestival ultimately!
So how do you manage to sustain that? To bring in new people but keep the old ones happy?
I think last year we did a lot of work on that; we had The Cure, PJ Harvey, there were a few bigger heritage type acts… and this year obviously with Stevie Wonder, and New Order, I think its important to have some big classic acts that everyone can sing along to. Also, the Bollywood bar has kept its soul as the place where whatever age you are you’ll feel comfortable digging around in there as much as you would if you’re twenty. There’s some areas where twenty year olds will find their territory and others like the Pig’s Big Ballroom which is for people in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s. My Mum and Dad and Josie’s parents come in for that and our grandparents! I don’t want it to a trendy inclave for 18 year olds, I want everyone to be able to come!
During the Bestival weekend, do you and Josie enjoy it as a holiday or is it pretty stressful?
Its definitely not a holiday! But we enjoy it more every year because we know more about what we’re doing and our team is amazing and they make it happen for us! I’ve got a hell of a lot of acts that I want to see and I spend the whole weekend racing from one stage to the next, trying to see everything that I can! By Saturday late afternoon I’ve kind of given up, by that point I’ve seen about 200 acts!
That’s amazing! So this summer, have you been to other festivals?a:
Yeah I went to Boomtown a couple of weeks ago, doing Festibelly next weekend. I’ve done Radio One Big Weekend in Hackney
Yeah I was there, it was so good!
Yeah it was brilliant wasn’t it! I’ve done RockNess in Scotland too, I always try to get to at least one or two new ones.
Bestival is the last big festival of the season, how do you make it a cherry on top to a summer of great music?
I think people know it’s a really big, hedonistic party and people can have a right old knees up so I think they know what they ‘re going to get- magic and really good music!
When you started Bestival did you envision it being like this 9 years later?
No, we didn’t know what we were doing 9 years ago! We thought we were starting a little one day event! Its grown massively in all sorts of respects, we’re really happy with how its turned out so far. We’ve got some quite big plans for next year and for the future. Ten years next year, big birthday party! There are some exciting things in the pipeline.
So you’re always looking to next year?
Yeh I always try to enjoy the year that we’re working up to but I have started enquring about acts for next year- even booked a couple for next year! But you got to keep ahead of the game.
And do you think Bestival still has the local, community feel even though it has got to so big?
Yeah totally, we’ve got the local W.I selling tea and cakes, lots of the people that work for us directly and indirectly live on the Isle of Wight, we put on about 20 or 30 local bands, so we give a massive boost to the economy, its definitely a part of the island.
So do you ever see the location changing?
Never say never, we’re very happy there but you’ve got to keep your options open all the time. It’s like Camp Bestival is great in Dorset, you know never know where you’re going to end up! But its all good at the moment!
So 9 years later Bestival is still going strong, constantly reinventing itself and creating new ideas and lots of fun, Bestival 2012 will smash it!
Thank you Mr. Rob da Bank for chatting to GBC Mag with under 2 weeks to go until the festivities begin we’re sure there is an awful lot to sort out and we wish you all the best with this year’s Bestival and we hope to see you around the site!