Danny Howard Interview (2014)
If you don’t know who Danny Howard is, you soon will. The DJ/producer won a BBC Radio One DJ contest and grew from there into a weekly radio program. His productions and remixes are on playlists around the world and have led to a weekly show on Sirius XM where he brings the best of the UK to American airwaves. His recent Pacha NYC debut with Paul Oakenfold was a massive success. Check out his new mixed compilation BBC Radio 1’s Dance Anthems for a taste of what’s on his well-curated playlists.
RS: Was this your first time playing at Pacha in the States?
Danny Howard: Yes, it was my first time playing at Pacha and my first time in New York.
RS: Oh wow, have you been to the US before?
Danny Howard: Yes, I played in Miami for the Winter Music Conference and have played in Vegas as well. It is a great opportunity for me to play in New York and I am really looking forward to it.
RS: How did you get on BBC Radio?
Danny Howard: I was in a competition that they were running a couple years ago and I ended up winning. There were other DJs in the UK that entered but I managed to win and play for Radio 1 in Ibiza which got me noticed by them. I sent them a lot of demos and eventually they offered me a show which was absolutely incredible.
RS: I see that you are part of the Matt Waterhouse posse, how did you meet up with him?
Danny Howard: He is a good guy. He used to send me a lot of tracks for his show and we started talking and from there decided to try something and it worked. We have a good relationship and he gives me a lot of remix work and things like that.
RS: I am imagining that your schedule during the week is pretty crazy between doing the radio show, finding music, and production, how do you keep it all balanced?
Danny Howard: I just have to make sure that I prioritize. I am known amongst my friends as one of the most organized people ever. I just make sure that I get the important stuff done first. I always make sure that the BBC Show preparation is ready to go and also make sure that I am always looking out for new music and new artists. It is so important to be ahead of the game for the BBC showcase and play new music that they need to hear. I work on my productions as well, and make sure that I am always caught up on that and putting out new stuff all the time. I feel that if I get those ingredients in first, then the DJ shows and anything else that comes with it sort of follows. I just have to make sure to get the important stuff done first and the rest will come.
RS: Sounds good. You worked with the Futuristic Polar Bears for the “Thundergod” track that is out right now. How do you collaborate when you work with others?
Danny Howard: For this one we did it together in the studio. With the technology these days and people being all over the world it is actually easy to collaborate. You can do it online and send it back and forth. Futuristic Polar Bears are good friends of my so for “Thundergod” we went into the studio together and created the track.
RS: Very cool. The video looks like it is going to be insane, where did they film that?
Danny Howard: I don’t know yet, I don’t think it is official actually.
RS: When you are in the studio working on a Danny Howard remix are you working by yourself or do you work with an engineer?
Danny Howard: Both, actually. It really depends on what I am trying to achieve. To get the final sound and final mixdown, I think a lot of producers out there work with other people in the studio together.
RS: Right now there are a lot of stories brewing about the big guys not actually doing their own work. When it is a Danny Howard remix, how much of it is your solo work and how much of it is the work of other people?
Danny Howard: The initial idea is all my work and then I work with different people to get the final product finished. It just depends on what the project is and what I am trying to achieve.
RS: When you are working on music, are you working on Logic or Protools?
Danny Howard: I work on Logic for production but for making edits, DJ shows, and bootlegs I use USB and Ableton.
RS: You are one of the few people that I know who does their show live on the radio, is that nervewracking?
Danny Howard: It was, but now it is just more exciting and I enjoy it. Doing it live is always exciting because you are in the moment and with the people that like the tracks and you can get the vibe going and have people connect to what you are playing.
RS: When you DJ out or on the radio do you play on CD or laptop?
Danny Howard: For the radio show I use the computers that are at the BBC, but when I mix I do it on the Pioneer decks. At the club, I don’t use a laptop, I just use USB cards and the decks. I used to use a laptop, which made it easier to do things, but you can’t connect with the crowd as much if you are staring at a laptop screen- plus it doesn’t look very cool. That’s just my opinion.
RS: You have a new mixed CD that is blowing up overseas right now, how did you choose the tracks for that?
Danny Howard: It is just getting the balance right and making sure that the tracks on there are the biggest dance tracks in the world right now, mixed with some personal preferences. It is all about giving people what they want and also educating them to tunes that I think they should hear.
RS: How close are your live sets in clubs to your radio sets?
Danny Howard: They are a little different, because the radio show is on at 4:00 pm so I play to a mainly mainstream audience and I have make sure not to alienate them and play too much underground or deep music. When I am in the club, it is always up front and new; there are so many different genres from house, progressive, electro… to the deeper sound of tech and straight-up house. I would say my sets are different, but it’s all me at the end of the day and if it’s good, it’s good.
RS: Talking about the house thing, it seems like a lot of what is coming out of the UK right now is the ‘90s house sound. Do you think that is a flash in the pan movement or it is going to continue on?
Danny Howard: I think that it is going to continue on for now; it is from the old garage sound that has been adapted into an updated house-y sound that is quite fresh. It is easy to connect with it and in the club it always goes off. I hope that it continues because I really enjoy it. You are right, the deep sound is very popular at the moment and I don’t think it is going to go anywhere just yet.
RS: One thing that I loved was your Duke Dumont remix of “100%” where you took that deep house sound and put the sick electro sound on it. What inspired that?
Danny Howard: I was very nervous about doing it and I was afraid that I would get asked this question. The original is so good and it’s almost a record that shouldn’t be touched. I was honored to be asked to do it. I was nervous about it but I just figured it would be another option for someone who might not play the original. I just looked at it that way and some people like it and some people don’t.
RS: How’s the how going on Sirius XM?
Danny Howard: It has been going very well . Since December. I‘ve been doing an hour show every Saturday at 8pm. It gives an insight as to what is big in the UK and Europe as far as dance music.
RS: Looking back on what you have remixed over the past year or two, what has been the most challenging remix for you to do?
Danny Howard: Probably the Storm Queen “Look Right Through” remix. It was like the Duke Dumont track in the sense that it was such an amazing record in its own right that it didn’t need to be touched. I took a different approach to this one than I did to the Duke Dumont one. Some people would say that I totally changed the Duke Dumont one, but with Storm Queen I tried to keep it true to the original with the vocal. I didn’t have as much electro in it, so it was a challenge to get people on board with a different style than what they are used to hearing from my remixes.
RS: What do you seeing coming up next after the house sound?
Danny Howard: I think that we are in a world right now where people don’t know what direction it is going to go. If you ask me, I think that it is going to go deeper and more down the tech-house and techno route, I’d like to see it go that way anyways.
RS: If people want to follow you online and learn more about your love of pigeons, where would be the place to go?
Danny Howard: Twitter.com/DJDannyHoward, facebook.com/dannyhowarddj, and also soundcloud.com/djdannyhoward, where I put productions, remixes and previews of what’s to come.
RS: What are you in the studio working on right now, remixwise and in terms of original tracks?
Danny Howard: Remixwise I am in the middle of finishing off “Flute” by New World Sound and Thomas Newson, which is big on Doorn Recordings. I have an original track coming out on Spinnin’ Records at the end of February with GLOWINTHEDARK, who are two Dutch guys that I did a gig with in Ibiza. We formed a good relationship and decided to work together and the track is called “Mug.”
RS: What would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
Danny Howard: Keep checking me out on SoundCloud, we have some big productions coming up this year. Thank you for always supporting me.
Special thanks to Cecilia Doreng-Stearns at Rephlektor for arranging this interview. Live image courtesy of Pacha NYC.
Danny Howard Interview