Interview with Danny Howells

Interview with Danny Howells


January 6th, 2016


The legendary Danny Howells is our special guest DJ on Saturday 23rd January. He has been supporting our releases regularly and since he never played at Culture Box we had to make it happen. It was written in the cards. Our label owner Tim Andresen got in touch with Danny for a chat about the past, the present and the future.

Please tell us where the musical interest and inspiration come from and when it all started?

It all started when I was a child. My earliest memory is of my family members playing records, and of me using their record players instead of toys and usually breaking them. The earliest inspiration would have been the music my family played. Mum was into 60s stuff, Motown, Beatles etc, my Aunty was more into people like Neil Young but also glam rock and people like Bowie and T.Rex. My Uncle was diverse as well but he loved a lot of club music and disco. When I would stay with them there would be a different record player in every room blasting out different styles.

People sometimes put your music style down in a box but how will you describe the music you play with your own words?

I don’t know, predominantly house and techno, some disco, usually with a groove or some feeling, nothing really commercial although some of what I play is probably “accessible” or familiar sounding. I veer towards tracks that sound like they could have been made at any time, as opposed to tracks that sound super shiny and new and will sound like crap in two years!

One of your first career breakthroughs came when you started your long lasting relationship with Bedrock being the warm-up DJ for John Digweed for many years. What did that mean for your career?

I was playing a few clubs before that, but the association with Digweed and Bedrock made a lot of people take notice of what I was doing, not just people on the dancefloor but eventually the industry too. And what I learned from working with him (and still do) is priceless .. he knows so much about what makes a good night and has always been a good teacher as well as a friend.

These days you mostly play headline sets. What is the biggest difference between these two types of sets and are you able to play some of the same tracks or is it completely different tracklists?

It used to be totally separate, the warm up or the peak time. But now I’ve really settled into a groove where the rooms I play are much smaller and more intimate, and this means there’s not such a big difference these days. The deeper end of house music is where my heart truly lies, although I still enjoy some real stripped down techno too, and playing headline sets in appropriately sized rooms to clued up crowds means I can get the best of both worlds.

You have mixed and compiled numerous compilation CDs for Global Underground and more. Which one is your personal favorite and why?

Without even thinking, it’s the Day disc of my 24/7 album. If I hear even one track from it I’m automatically transported to that time again, what I was doing, what I was feeling etc. It really takes me back to a certain period of my life more than any other album I’ve done. As far as non-album mixes then it’s my 2002 Essential Mix and my Cadenza Source to Cycle Mix from 2014.

In 2008 you launched your own label Dig Deeper named after the events of the same name. What is your goal and ideas behind the label and nights?

The night began as I was doing a lot of headline sets in big clubs, and even though I held onto my sound, I was feeling forced to compromise a little bit by playing harder all the time and I wasn’t happy even though I was earning more. Dig Deeper, the night, came out as a way of me taking control of the whole night, in smaller rooms, for less money but much more creative satisfaction, and that all leads to where I am now. The label was an offshoot whereby I could release the music I was making that fitted into those nights, but I stopped that after a few years as, despite doing quite well, it was costing me many thousands of pounds which I never got back.

You have a long glory career in the music industry. Do you see yourself more as a DJ, producer, label owner or a combination?

DJ definitely. That’s why I got into this, I was obsessed with the whole idea of the “DJ” even as a kid, when I’d go to weddings and see the wedding DJ with his thousands of 7″ singles. It was a part of me from a very young age. WHEN I get on a production roll, then I love production and I can’t be stopped. But since the whole issue with the label and the problems that came because of it, I want to channel all my energies into improving as a DJ.

What do you enjoy to do the most and what is the worst part of the job?

The best part is the minute I take over the booth .. tidy it up, get rid of empty beer bottles and make it my own space. After that I’m in my own world and no matter what’s going on in my head, for those few hours I’m hopefully going to be detached from reality and lost in the music. (And hopefully, the crowd are with me, haha!) The worst is the exhaustion from travelling too much, or when airlines fuck up flights making you miss a gig etc. Or when the US embassy decides to take a million years to process your work visa, meaning you miss 6 gigs!

How will you describe the current state of the scene and what do you have in the pipeline for 2016?

The scene that I am a part of seems healthy, full of promoters who do this for love primarily and understand their crowd and know how to work an amazing night. As far as the scene outside of what I do .. no clue I’m afraid! And my pipeline is empty for the year, as it always is. I avoid “projects” and “goals” and just always get on with what I hope I do best, spending the bulk of the year listening to music and finding those jewels which will work in the clubs.

We don’t think you’ve been to Copenhagen before as far as we remember (and our memory is pretty good)… What are your expectations and how did it finally come together?

I have super high expectations (putting the pressure on you now!!) .. a sexy crowd who understand and enjoy an eclectic range of sexy music. I don’t know how it came together, or more importantly, I don’t know why it took so long!!! Can’t wait, see you soon!

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