Day In The Life: Rob Da Bank, Radio One DJ, Bestival founder and head of Sunday Best

'I can play the songs I like. It's up to me what I do'
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The Independent Culture


I don't always make it in to our Tin Pan Alley offices. I get sent over 300 records every week so I spend most days at home picking tracks for my Radio One shows, choosing songs to play when I DJ and keeping an ear out for prospective signings. Just listening to music is in itself almost a full-time job so my label manager, Sarah Bolshi, looks after the day-to-day running of Sunday Best. But today, as I'm in, Sarah, licensing manager Julian Peck and I catch up with a label meeting.

This is a particularly busy time for Sunday Best. Our annual festival, Bestival, is just a few weeks away and we have a handful of releases due out in early September, including the second release in the A-Z compilation series where personalities, this time DJ Annie Mac, pick 26 tracks - one for each letter of the alphabet - and a debut single from our new signings, teenage rockabilly outfit, Kitty Daisy And Lewis.

During the meeting we discuss marketing issues for our new records, how things are looking for the festival and propose candidates for the next A-Z compilation. I would like to see the series move in a more lifestyle direction. I'd love to get someone like Robert De Niro to do it - wouldn't it be great to find out what kind of music he's into? We nearly had Kate Moss last year. Hopefully we can still get her involved.

My label manager Sarah and I are like chalk and cheese - I tend to mull things over whereas she works at 100 miles per hour. But this is what keeps the label ticking over. When I'm not in the office, Sarah's in constant contact updating me with all things to do with Sunday Best. But while she oversees administration and production issues, it's up to me what bands we sign - I get the fun bit!


Meeting over I jump in a taxi and head to Radio One's studios to pre-record my Saturday Blue Room show. Usually I record the show live, but this weekend I'm DJing at the V Festival and I won't be able to make it back in time for the 5am start. The Blue Room's a magical twilight type show. When Chris Coco and I started the show four years ago we had no idea who was going to be listening - we thought it might just be loads of clubbers on their way home but there's a huge audience of twilight workers. I play different styles of music, and a lot of the bands that feature on the show you'll probably not have heard of before. But I just try to keep it interesting: eclectic and musically adventurous.

Getting a show on Radio One is definitely my proudest achievement. If you told me when I was 18 I would one day come to the BBC studios and seeing the likes of Pete Tong, Annie Nightingale and John Peel - people I grew up listening to - I would never have believed you. And still, every time I go into Radio One I think it's incredible.


Whenever I'm in town, I try to fit in as many meetings as I can. With the radio show in the bag, I step round the corner to a café on Great Portland Street for tea and a Bestival meeting. The festival is a huge part of the Sunday Best. I want people to have a good time - that's always been the Sunday Best and Bestival messages. So it's important that we put on a good show. This is our third year and things seem to be going well - our headliners, the Scissor Sisters asked us if they could play - so hopefully, this year, we'll break even.

This is a crisis meeting concerning Bestival FM - the onsite radio station which will broadcast live throughout the festival weekend. We still lack the sponsor we need to pay for the service so unless we can cut costs or find a backer, it could all fall through. But I'm going to do what I can to make it happen. It might seem like a small detail, but the radio station is a big part of the festival for me. Like the free daily festival paper, The Bestival Bugle, it's one of those things that I think make the festival special. If people can switch on the radio back at their tents and hear what's going on throughout the site, they feel part of the festival the whole time they're there. I like that.


The next meeting is also Bestival-related, but this time it's to do with the festival's visuals; what screens we'll have on what stages and the sorts of things that we'll project onto them. The way things look has always been as important as the music to Sunday Best. It's one way we convey the sense of fun that I hope is also expressed in the events we stage and the music we release. My wife Josie does all our album artwork - we've always brainstormed ideas and she then draws them.


With meetings done with for the day I rush off to the launch party of the new Fopp record store on Tottenham Court Road where I'm supposed to be DJing. I left the office in such a hurry that now I'm a little worried I've brought the most random records to play. Most people have probably never heard of me but those who have, seem to have a very different opinion of what I do depending of how they know me. Aside from Bestival and my Radio One shows, some may know me for the chillout compilations I put out that kick-started Sunday Best records or as the dance DJ who released tracks by Groove Armada, Basement Jaxx and Lemon Jelly. While others might know me as a really underground indie head who stood in for John Peel after he died. It's a mishmash of a reputation but I'm really proud that I can't be pinned down so easily.


One of my Sunday Best signings, Max Sedgley is playing at the Jazz Café in Camden so I dash across town to see him play. I'm looking forward to seeing how his show's come on. He had a hit with his 2004 single "Happy" - the song was the theme to Euro 2004 and got masses of airplay. But now he's got the challenge of following that up with an album that will have the same wide appeal and a live show that people want to go and see.

Max hails from jazz background but "Happy" was a cross-over club record and I'd like to see him continue in that direction. Not necessarily because his music is better in a club but because I think it'll sell more records. Ultimately, as his label boss and A&R, it's my job to think about these things. But having said that, I'd never insist, "you must do this." I leave it up to the artists mainly. And judging by his very cool, new vocalist who hails straight out of Starsky And Hutch, thankfully it appears Max and I are on the same wave-length.


I'm back at Radio One's studios to record my OneMusic show. I'm on air from 11pm to 1am - and I don't get home until 1.45am - but I like to get there early to catch up with the producers of my show, play some records and have a cup of tea to keep me awake. However tired I feel before the show, as soon as it starts I'm in another world. In fact I tend to get a bit over-excited - the last few times my ears have been ringing as I left.

I love that I can play the songs I like. It's up to me what I do. And that's what I love about my label too - I can introduce people to music that I love. But I don't have any big ambitions for Sunday Best. It would be lovely to sign an Arctic Monkeys or even a Hot Chip, but I'm not going to kill myself going to a thousand concerts a year trying to discover the Next Big Thing. The label and everything I've done has all just evolved from the Sunday Best parties I put on in little back rooms 12 years ago. There was never any master-plan. And I'd quite like Sunday Best to stay culty. I like that we're a kind of cottage industry. I just want to keep having fun with it all.