BBC Radio 1/producer talks dance anthems and sneaking to shows.
How many radio fans can say that they grew up to be a valuable part of their beloved radio station? Well, British DJ/producer/radio host Danny Howard surely can. 28-year-old Blackpool native’s motto has always been “nothing else matters but the music” and his BBC Radio 1 show has the most straight-forward title in the history of dance radio – Dance Anthems. No wonder Howard knows how to pick a future dance anthem, whether it’s for his show, his own tune (watch him spin all over UK, Ibiza and EDC Vegas this summer) or something he’s promoting via Nothings Else Matters label which was launched this year and already has a hit release on its roster, 99 Souls’ hit mash-up “The Girl Is Mine” . It was understandably hard to get ahold of Danny, but we were finally able to give him a call while Howard was getting ready for a big homecoming event and chat about dropping the mic on the radio, classic dance anthems and always keeping up with your emails.
How are you, where are you and what are you up to?
I’m fine. I’m excited because I’m back to my hometown, Blackpool. I’m putting my own event Blackpool Rocks here, there’s going to be 2,000 people in a huge ballroom. I just visited the space to check the lights and the sound and the stage set up. Looks like it’s gonna be a big night: Oliver Helden, Nero, Riton, myself. All my friends and family are coming, which is very exciting, too.
How often do you go back to Blackpool?
Very rarely actually. About 5-6 times a year. I used to do this event once a year around Christmas time, but decided to add an extra one just before the summer. I’m not complaining though: I love living in London and traveling to amazing places.
You play around with a lot of genres, but which one is your most cherished one?
Old school Chicago house. I’ve always been a massive fan of the American DJs like Roger Sanchez, Erick Morillo, David Morales and Frankie Knuckles. These guys represent and pioneered the sound that I was most drawn to. But of course I can appreciate everything within the dance music genre. I try to mix up as much as possible myself.
What’s your story: as a music lover, as a DJ, as BBC Radio 1 host? How did it all start for you?
It all started with me sitting in my bedroom when I was 14-15 watching videos of lots of DJs on YouTube. Like Tiesto playing the Amsterdam Arena. I really wanted to experience one of these gigs. When I was about 17 I used to try to sneak to as many club nights as possible. And once I turned 18 I started traveling all over the UK to see lots of different DJs. So it all started with my love of dance music.
When I got to the university I started learning how to DJ. It was because I failed second year and ended up having lots of spare time on my hands. So I borrowed some decks from my friend and taught myself how to DJ on vinyl. Then booked a gig at the student union club.
With BBC Radio 1 they had a competition in 2011. They were looking for an unknown DJ in the UK to play at their Ibiza weekend. I never thought I was gonna win and I didn’t even want to enter actually. A few friends and family persuaded me to do so. And I ended up winning it and playing Ibiza. I still get goosebumps thinking about that. I kept in touch with BBC and through the competition I saw what the radio was about. I started doing my own podcasts and asking for advices of the bosses of Radio 1. Eventually they got me to do a pilot for them and that’s how it all started.
Were you nervous the first time you had to go on air?
Yes, very. ‘Cause I never done radio before. For me as a dance music lover and as a Radio 1 fan in particular it was a huge thing. I always listened to Pete Tong and Annie Mac. It’s like all of a sudden I jumped inside my radio. It was a really, really bizarre feeling. I remember practicing as hard as I could every minute of every day leading up to that show. But you can never experience what you experience when you go live for the very first time. I remember shouting too loudly and talking too close to the mic and it didn’t really make sense. And I actually dropped the mic on the floor and my heart was beating way too fast. The feeling was so intense. The thought that I’ve just spoken to the millions of people for the first time on Radio 1 was crazy.
Did you celebrate afterwards?
I don’t actually remember. I suppose I was DJing somewhere. I surely did get tons of texts from friends supporting me. But with my radio show, I feel like it’s a party every week: I love doing this show, people tweet me, we interact. I’m celebrating every week.
You do know a few things about Dance Anthems, considering you had your own BBC show. So what are the best dance anthems of all time and maybe some recent ones in your opinion?
There are so many great ones out there. I’m gonna pick two. Fish Go Deep “The Cure & The Cause” which is more of a garagy track but it reminds me of when I was in uni learning how to DJ. And Crystal Waters “Gypsy Woman” which was such an original piece of house music that still sounds amazing: you can still DJ it and it still works. This is a great example of what a true dance anthem is: something that sounds great when released but can stand a test of time.
You’re playing Parklife festival in Manchester this summer. What should we expect from that gig?
I’ve only been there before as a raver, I never DJed there. It’s definitely one of the best festivals in the UK. It has such young vibrant crowd who are all educated in music. The line-up is a bit more underground compared to other dance festivals and it creates such a great vibe. Everyone’s there for the music. I know it will be one hell of a party!
And finally what apps help you survive all of the traveling?
Just e-mails. I’m so boring [laughs]. I guess that’s because I get everything sent to my e-mail, so I’m always listening to promos via e-mail. If I leave my e-mail for a day, it’s gonna feel like a mountain. I’m always in my e-mail.
No Snapchat or Angry Birds for you, huh?
I do have Snapchat and all of the social media. But no Angry Birds or anything like that, no.