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Rob Da Bank interview

We chat with the Bestival founder on his latest project

DJs are moving further afield in the way they apply their art, and one area that is definitely benefiting from this is computer games. DJ endorsements give a certain air of cool to this lucrative genre. Bestival founder Rob Da Bank has stepped up to the mark and curated a vibrant soundtrack, as well as using his Bestival skills to create a virtual festival for the newest racing game to hit the block, Forza Horizon...

What was your involvement in Forza Horizon?

“I was brought on board right at the start as a sort of creative consultant. Not just overseeing the music soundtrack, but also the design of the festival within the game, how the radio stations work in the car, and loads of other bits — including how you never put toilets near the food areas. I never imagined I’d have a hand in this, but I’m glad I did!”

How did you get involved with Playground Games?

“Ralph [Fulton, creative director] who heads up Playground Games was the person who got in touch initially and we've worked side by side right through the project to get to this stage — the reality of a new game! It’s been a totally new journey for me seeing how a computer game comes together, from the initial idea of a festival within a driving game through to a full 360-degree amazing finished product.”

Can you tell us more about the ‘Festival Hub’ which is part of Forza?

“Well, I suppose it’s loosely based on a Coachella-type set-up, so it’s obviously in America and it needed to feel like a real version of what that would look like. So I advised on the style of the stage, tents and even food units that might be found there. I got quite nerdy about it in the end with my festival hat on! We were examining how wires come out the back of big PA stacks and what the fairground rides should look like. I think Playground should be very proud of the virtual festival they’ve created.”

Did you find that your experiences in Bestival helped in curating the music in Forza Horizon? Did you use the same basic approach?

“Absolutely, whether I’m getting music ready for my radio show, programming my festivals or choosing acts to go on my record label, my brain works the same way separating the wheat from the chaff. Most importantly, I’m here making judgement calls on which pieces of music will not only enhance the driving experience but also stand the test of time — and still sound fresh in, say, three years time.”

What was the design input that you added to the process?

“Mostly festival details and an overview on how the car radio might work, switching between stations. Once it got deep into the actual cars I was well out of my depth, but it was still fun seeing how the technical details came together.”

How does the merger of the dance scene work alongside games like this?

“Well, hopefully Forza Horizon is the best driving game that’s ever been out there and so it needs the ultimate soundtrack. There are three stations, but Forza Bass and Forza Pulse are heavily electronic and dance music-based. Most people that would be playing this game are probably tuned into EDM or dance music whichever side of the world you're on, so it was important that that scene and sound was heavily represented.”

In fact, how does creating a game to revolve around a music festival work?

“That was Ralph and Playground’s concept and it really just came down to creating the idea that you're driving to a festival to meet up with mates and show off your car. Although you can see the festival is in full flow, I imagine most people taking part are more interested in the actual driving and challenges of that, but the festival does make a spectacular backdrop.”

What projects have you got coming up next?

“No more computer games… Well, until they ask me again, I hope! It’s been a very busy year, what with Forza Horizon having taken up quite a lot of the last 18 months, plus the two festivals, weekly show on Radio 1, DJing, running a record label, and three kids to look after. Luckily now is my downtime period, so I’m trying to say 'No' to much more this year.”

2013: what is in store from Sunday Best and Bestival?

“Sunday Best has some great new acts like our Southern Belle from the State, Valerie June, and then my mate and ex-Sunday Best tea boy Julian who is making the most incredible Balearic electronics under the name Tythe. I’m hoping we'll get a new Kitty, Daisy & Lewis record next year, and Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip too.

“Bestival we're already in deep on, planning for 2013 for that, and Camp Bestival too. Bestival is 10 years old this year, so expect plenty of surprises!”

 

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