Rob da Bank seems to have done it all in the music biz. The 49-year-old has been a music journalist, a club promoter, a DJ, a label boss, a radio DJ, producer, a meditation teacher, and hosted wellness retreats.
Rob is perhaps best known, alongside wife, Josie, as founder of Camp Bestival, which marks its 15th birthday this year.
When did you buy your first home?
We bought a flat on Brixton Hill in 1997 which makes me feel very old now. Josie and I have been together since we met as students at Goldsmiths so we clubbed together our savings from her owning a trailblazing bar in what was then still dodgy Old Street and I was a music journalist, DJ and ran my Sunday Best club.
Most of our good mates lived in south London so Brixton seemed a good choice, but it was racier than it is now. My club Sunday Best was getting well known and everyone from Bjork to Fatboy Slim, David Byrne and Andy Weatherall would be there propping up the bar or playing chess.
Considering your rock ‘n’ roll reputation did you find it hard to get a mortgage?
Well, I’m not sure if I look rock ‘n’ roll and despite all the late nights and insane parties I was also always into working hard and yoga and meditation so I wasn’t living 24 Hour Party People nuttiness all the time. It wasn’t hard to get a mortgage back then in the good old days, so we managed to get our foot on the ladder quite quickly, which was lucky bearing in mind what happened to London property prices.
Did your business acumen translate to buying property?
Josie has a much keener business head than me. We’re both artistic and creative but luckily, she has somehow also got a good notion of what makes a good property. We managed to always just beat the trendy rush for an area whether it was in Brixton, Clapham Old Town, East Dulwich or finding a coastal property on the Isle of Wight.
What was that first property like?
We owned the middle floor of a three-storey property slightly off-street halfway up Brixton Hill. It was opposite what became the cult music pub The Windmill and a short crawl home from the legendary Rooty and Basement Jaxx parties of the 1990s. It was pretty simple with a shady garden occasionally frequented by drug dealers and ladies of the night. There was never a dull moment.
Did it have a few hidden quirks?
Brixton Hill was a crazy melting pot in the 1990s – you’d have crusty trance ravers in their dayglo outfits mixing with dubstep warriors, rastas and fully tooled up clubbers wandering past our drive all night. You’d wander out of the Dogstar or Cool Tan squat raves and walk past a guy casually selling giant land snails in Brixton Market.
Did you have a big moving in party?
Our mate and photographer Jamie B lived upstairs so we did have one long moving-in party that probably lasted a week. No one seemed to ever complain about the volume or noise in Brixton – one of the advantages of living in a sturdy Victorian dwelling.
What did you do with the place?
We had high ceilings, so we built a mezzanine chill out space with record decks, bean bags and lava lamps.
What did buying a property teach you?
We were so proud to have keys to our own place. Renting is cool but we liked not having to be beholden to a landlord, particularly with our lifestyles and the fact we liked to decorate the walls, ceilings and just about every space going. The next house we bought had its own silver spaceship built in the garden by some madcap inventor which came alive with loads of knobs, dials, and mad space noises. The kids loved sitting in there for hours and it just felt right that we could own that family space. We lived round the corner from Vivienne Westwood, and she’d wave at the kids as she rode past on her bicycle.
Best advice for any first-time buyers?
Try and spot an area that’s on the up before everyone else does. We moved into East Dulwich when cabbies wouldn’t even want to take you there and now it’s one of the coolest family areas to live.
Do you have festivals in the garden?
The temptation to set up a giant rig and Josie to build one of her amazing installations gets talked around the kitchen table but we’re also respectful of the wildflower meadow, wildlife and our small army of goats and hens who don’t like drum and bass as much as me.
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