We catch up with DJ Danny Howard to chat about his new record label Nothing Else Matters and his upcoming projects. Read on to find out about the defining moments of his career so far and what we can expect in the future.
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With almost 2 million listeners tuning in his Dance Anthems weekend show on BBC Radio 1, Danny Howard is now a regular at major dance music festivals and clubs. His latest venture sees him at the helm of his own dance label with Nigel Harding and RCA Records. Being all about discovering and supporting new talent, Danny has put together a playlist of ones to watch for 2017 for us. Give it a listen below.
2016 was a pretty busy year, any highlights?
Last year was definitely the best of my career so far and I was so lucky to play some incredible shows. From playing the main stage at EDC Las Vegas to making my debut at Hideout and The Warehouse Project, it really has been amazing on a DJ front but I think the highlight was definitely playing in front of 30,000 people at V Festival, live on BBC Radio 1, just before Eric Prydz. It will always be a special moment I look back on in 2016.
When did you realise you were going to pursue music and DJing as a career?
During university when I started to learn to DJ. I remember blagging myself a set in the students’ union and got all my friends to come down as it was a Sunday night…notoriously a quiet night in the SU. After my set, I got them to all go to the manager and say how good the ‘DJ’ was that night…the next day when I went to see him he said he’d received such good feedback that he wanted me on more. The plan worked and it was from that moment, I knew I could never let it go!
What was the turning point?
Definitely when I won the DJ competition on BBC Radio 1… It got me national exposure, which was crazy at the time! It also got me a foot in the door at Radio 1 which was great timing as they were also looking for a new DJ to front their Dance Anthems show.
The prize of the competition wasn’t to get a show at the end of it so I had to put the work in to make them believe I was the right man for the job but it all turned out great and I still can’t believe that was almost 6 years ago!
Being an eclectic tastemaker, what's the combination of genres or artists that have influenced you the most?
I think it’s hard to pinpoint exactly who because I try to cover different genres and as we all know, styles and sounds change all the time.
I’m very much a house guy and I’m a huge fan of the old skool boys like Kenny Dope, Todd Terry, Armand Van Helden etc… and this definitely cuts through in my club sets but on radio, it’s simply down to if I think it’s a good tune, if I think the audience will like it and if it has the potential to create a ripple in the dance and electronic music scene.
Do you have any piece of advice for people who are just getting started with dance and electronic music?
If you want to be a DJ, then I think it’s so important to produce music and create your own ‘sound’. It is possible to do without producing music of course (E.G. Annie Mac & DJ EZ) but it’s even harder to break if you don’t. Get creative, grow your fan base online and go from there!
What's the first thing that really grabs your attention when selecting new tracks and artists to feature on your BBC show or your new label Nothing Else Matters?
I look for originality and just something interesting in a track whether it be a quirky bassline, twisted vocal or just a simple sound that would make the track sound flat if it wasn’t there. It can be anything but it’s important to be different as there are so many copy cat tracks floating around that it all just gets a bit much of a muchness!
How do you see the dance scene evolving after the fabric events?
Seeing the togetherness of the whole dance community was incredible… everyone came together and played their part fighting for one of the most legendary dance music institutions in the world.
It proves that everybody in dance music does care, especially when something so pivotal in our scene is under threat. We saw it when The Arches in Glasgow was faced with losing its license and although it wasn’t a successful outcome, everybody from the punters to the DJ’s rallied around to stop it from happening. Hopefully, this will mean that venues will do everything they possibly can when it comes to the care of people, especially drug related issues.
I’m also fully behind the initiatives and institutions that provide free drug testing at festivals and events… I truly believe that this prevents health problems and drug-related deaths and every festival organiser should provide this.
What are the biggest challenges the club scene is faced with?
As discussed above, people doing drugs is a challenge but I believe most of the big festivals, events and venues are pro-active in tackling this issue and raising awareness of potential outcomes. The amount of drug-related deaths we’ve seen over the last few years is just not OK.
What can we expect from your upcoming projects?
I’m doing a small UK tour in March called ‘One-On-One’… it’s basically me plus one special guest in an intimate venue. I love these kind of sets as I can play for longer and really get stuck in with the tunes, all whilst having the crowd really close getting on the same vibe with you.
Then as we head into the summer, it’s all about the festival sets… all will be revealed soon!
Author: Claudia Manca