ROB DA BANK is making coffee, his signature long hair twisted into a topknot, his bare feet padding about the oak floor of the large kitchen as he organises the cups.
The former Radio 1 DJ’s wife Josie — co-founder and creative designer of Camp Bestival — sits nearby, their youngest son Elijah, three, perched on her lap. ‘Now that’s not the way we eat eggs, is it?’ she reprimands gently as he picks at his breakfast.
Their other three children Arlo, 13 (who often DJs with his dad), Merlin, 11 and Miller, nine, are elsewhere on this sprawling three-acre rural property on the Isle of Wight, which the family shares with a host of chickens, two pygmy goats (Friday and Spice) and cats Strokey and Crumpet.
Rob and Josie started Camp Bestival, little sister of their former festival Bestival, here in 2008 — though it’s now held at Lulworth Castle in Dorset — and found the island’s tranquility and calm the perfect antidote to their hectic lives in London.
‘We fell in love with the Isle of Wight — particularly this side of the island, which is called the wild west,’ Rob says of their location, near Yarmouth. ‘It’s very rural, we love the space. We paddleboard, sail, swim in the sea.
‘It is a double-edged sword living here. Some islanders feel left behind. You can feel cut off from civilisation. But the island has changed a lot over the past decade with a new influx of young families. We love it.’
Initially the family had a holiday home here — a 16th-century cottage — but Josie was so allergic to the dust mites in the ancient building she insisted they move to something more modern. Josie noticed their current home, which has its own waterfront, several years ago, but the existing two-storey, four-bed 1970s brick house was unappealing. But when it failed to sell, and the price plummeted, the couple took the plunge and bought it in 2014.
Today’s seven-bedroom property, with its dramatic charred and oiled larch cladding (left to age naturally), huge windows and white-painted brick, is a triumph of modernism — the result of Josie’s work with architects Guy Morgan Harris and Coleman Cotter and a seven-month rebuild which embraced and extended the original home.
But inside, beyond the vast glass panelled entrance, and a concrete staircase (lit up by a spiky Sputnik-style light fitting) it’s a warm and eclectic family home where boxes of Lego and boys’ toys jostle for space with large sofas and artefacts the couple have collected on their travels to Morocco and India.
On the ground floor there’s an enormous boys’ den (‘It was going to be my haven, but no chance of that!’ says Josie, pointing out that the only other girls in this male-dominated household are the two goats). There are the boys’ musical instruments — a guitar for Miller, drums for Arlo and a piano for Merlin; an old Wurlitzer juke box in one corner; and a self-designed ‘foam pit’ for Merlin in another (below).
The boys have their own wing of bedrooms upstairs, together with Rob’s office, lined with pictures and posters of Bestival headline acts. Downstairs, behind the boys’ den, the master bedroom — with a large green sofa and a stand-alone bath — opens up to the outdoors.
The garden has a gypsy caravan and Mongolian yurt (a gift from Rob to Josie) plus a swimming pool, filled with inflatables. The goats are corralled behind what looks like a tribal picket fence, while the lawns and wildflower meadows (including some rare native orchids) lead down to the waterfront.
Outside the front of the house, a 1970s campervan that Rob and Josie scrimped and saved for still has pride of place in the driveway.
It’s upstairs, however, where the family spend most of their time, in a vast, open-plan living room with brightly coloured squashy sofas and walls lined with faux animal heads and mirrors, not to mention the antler-topped chair that Josie bought Rob one Christmas. (‘We both love Morris dancing,’ he says. Who knew?)
The room is wrapped in glass windows and opens out to a large wooden-decked terrace with more sofas, a great dining table and Rob’s pet project: a wood-fired hot tub.
‘Nobody ever gets up in the morning and wonders what they’ll do today,’ Josie says.
Rob and Josie practise yoga and meditation while the boys, who belong to cricket teams and athletic squads, have taken up mountain biking.
Rob has set up a monthly music club for kids on the island who might not otherwise get the chance to be involved with the arts.
In many ways their lives now echo Rob’s idyllic childhood growing up in the little village of Warsash in Hampshire, where his GP father set up a brass band and ‘encouraged’ Rob to play trombone. It was a traditional upbringing and one which has influenced Rob’s own parenting style.
‘I’m pretty old-school in some ways,’ he says. ‘I don’t let the children get sucked into technology’ — something also reflected this year at Camp Bestival, which featured a zone called Wild Tribe, a new kids’ area to encourage screen-free time.
‘We have a rule in the house that all phones are put on a dock at 9pm and that’s the end of them for the evening,’ says Rob, who is now also working on Sleep Retreats — pop-up modular wellness experiences that are going into hotels, resorts and private parties.
‘You need to switch off. You need quiet time. I had so many years in Radio 1 and we were also running the country’s second-largest music festival. We were right in the thick of it.
‘It’s cool being a trendy DJ in your twenties and thirties but Josie and I are both 46 now — our birthdays are within a day of each other — and you need to slow down. You really need that balance.’
Their home, with its charming blend of calm and chaos, is rather like one enormous chill-out zone.
But while Josie likes to listen to music, Rob, who has made music both his craft and his career, hesitates when asked his favourites at home.
‘After all the time I spend listening to music… at home, well, I rather like the sound of silence.’
■ ROB DA BANK (real name Robert John Gorham) rose to fame at BBC Radio 1 in 2002, hosting the Blue Room with Chris Coco — a cult chill-out show which led to da Bank’s own Leftfield and Rob da Bank & Friends shows.
He and his wife Josie are best known as the creators of Bestival and Camp Bestival, as well as Rob’s Sunday Best label which has released music by David Lynch, Dan le Sac, Beardyman, Dub Pistols and Scroobius Pip.
He met Josie at Goldsmiths, University of London where he was studying French and History of Art and she studied textiles.
He proposed at Glastonbury in 2000, kneeling amid ‘piles of mashed potato and beer cans after walking round for three days with a Tiffany platinum ring in my pocket.’
‘Festivals are in our blood,’ he says. ‘We remember the days you could still jump over the fence at Glastonbury.’
Fittingly, Rob has also recently launched a new podcast, The A-Z Of Festivals, featuring some of the biggest names in the events industry.
■ Early-bird tickets for Camp Bestival 2020 (July 30 to Aug 2 at Lulworth Castle, Dorset) go on sale this Friday, campbestival.net
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