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Danny Howells doesn’t need a long-winded introduction; as a matter of fact he actually just needs someone who could write a decent biography about him. I won’t… but it is my pleasure to interview this UK legend, who is in for the long haul and has marked his career by inspiring many others with his knowledge of music and the industry. Danny’s immersion in music is total. Running the Dig Deeper label and gigs all over the world seem to keep this guy going. MEOKO finds out how this enduring musical career sprouted…

Listening to the singles you’ve released and many of the edits you’ve done. You obviously have a broad interest in all kinds of music, differing from rock to disco. How did you develop such a blend of musical taste? 

That’s just the way it was when I was growing up! I was (and am) very close to my family. My Mum loved James Brown, Atlantic Records, Stax, The Beatles etc. My Aunty was more into early 70’s so I’d get to hear lots of Bowie and T.Rex along with later stuff she loved like Neil Young. My Uncle John was really into late 70s r&b/disco as well as some poppier stuff, so I was exposed to a lot at a very young age. Very fortunate I suppose! I find listening to the same thing all the time so dull.

Is this why people call you “the DJ’s DJ”? 

If I’m totally honest I don’t really know what that means but it sounds nice so I’ll let people call me that! 

https://soundcloud.com/balanceseries/balance-024-mixed-by-danny/

While we’re at it… talking about DJ’ing. Who has had a major influence on your career? 

When I started out, Digweed was the guy I had the most exposure to, what with him being local (Hastings), and also throwing the local parties that brought all the major DJs to town and so on. And I was blessed to gain a residency with him after having been DJing for a very short time, which I feel I learnt a lot from. He taught me and showed me a lot and still does to this day. People like Tenaglia too. I haven’t heard him in ages but having been one of the privileged few to have witnessed him play a 24 hour set in a tiny loft in Manhattan years ago, I can say he truly made an impact on me.

You’re receiving a spate of plaudits currently, but music is cyclical in nature; has there ever been periods where everything has “dried up”? 

There’s been plaudits but there’s been plenty of opposition to that too! But I’m quite happy with that really. A lot of the old so-called “progressive” fans are a little bit stuck in 2005, so it’s nice to shake some of those off every now and then. And there’s plenty of periods where things dry up, both creatively and work-wise. But in answer to your previous question about what I’ve learnt about the industry, well one of the most important things I’ve learnt is to accept that it’s not always going to be easy. I have little expectations for my career and I suppose I always have, so accepting failure or periods where things aren’t that great has always been a lot easier for me. I love having time off and it’s important for me to ensure that I have it regularly. As long as I don’t have TOO much time off, then I’m happy. I don’t want to exhaust my body and mind again like I nearly did a few years back.

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You fill in for Pete Tongs infamous Essential Mix – have you had a strong bond with Pete over the years?

I’ve done, I think, four mixes for him, three of those were studio mixes whilst the other one was live. TERRIBLE mistake to let a live one go out on air. I haven’t seen Pete in ages but he was always a very true and honest gentleman, even when I was starting out and he hadn’t really heard of me. Nothing but respect for him.

You’ve done many mixes and compilations in your time, but last year you were given the chance to mix an entry into the highly respected Balance Mixseries – as a long serving DJ this conceptual format is suited to DJs as yourself. What themes or ideas did you want to portray through this mix?

I just wanted to serve up the best music I could find in the best way possible! No theme, no concept, no gatefold sleeve. It was nice being able to contribute to that amazing series though and I did the very best I could do on it.

Obviously you did… most of the reviews were rewarding and positive. Some critics stated they had forgotten about Danny Howells but that you’ve made your comeback with the Balance Series. Do you feel like this as well?

“Comeback” sounds so showbiz .. like Gary Glitter or something! I appreciate the nice things that have been written about the album but if I’m frank, I prefer being in the background. It’s where I naturally belong and I will retreat back to it once I’m done promoting the album! 

https://soundcloud.com/balanceseries/balance-024-mixed-by-danny-1/

You’re playing London this weekend – would you say your home city is still your favourite place to play? And what will you be spinning for us at the Zombie 8th Birthday blow out?

I only moved here about 6 or so years ago and I now, belatedly, realise it’s the best city in the world. I just love it and miss it so much when I’m away. I’m not even really very central but I walk or cycle or run through the city almost every day when I have the time. As far as my favourite city to play .. it hasn’t always been that way as us DJs can often be spoilt by places like Japan, Argentina, the U.S., Mexico etc etc. But I’m hoping that’s all gonna change this Saturday. Seriously so looking forward to it. And I have no idea of what I will play until I get there!

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So you’ve seen all these places around the world and have the fortune to be successful in this industry for quite a while. Do you think your musical yourney will ever be complete? Are there any things you still aspire to reach in the following years?

The musical journey will NEVER be complete .. it will continue long after I’ve hung up the DJ headphones and right up to the day I pop my clogs, because electronic music is only one part of the puzzle for me and I want to learn and try and understand as much about ALL music (except for EDM!) in my lifetime as I possibly can.

Finally, if you were, for some awkward reason, bound to listen to only one musical genre for the rest of your life? What would it be and why would you choose that particular genre above others? 

I’d probably go with rock. I’d miss everything else like fuck though.

 

By: Paul Fluks


Danny Howells has been invited by our friends from Zombie Soundsystem to play this Saturday at their 8th Birthday Blow Out. For more details and tickets. CLICK HERE