The212 team had the pleasure of interviewing UK BBC Radio 1 Superstar Danny Howard before his set tonight at Pacha NYC with Borgeous. Along with his own weekly shows ‘Dance Anthems’ on BBC and ‘Nothing Else Matters’ on Sirius BPM, Howard is currently on his first US tour over the next two weeks. Coming in hot from his Chicago gig this morning, we met up with Danny at his hotel in Hell’s Kitchen to catch up with the rising superstar from across the pond in Blackpool, England.
212: How and when did you get started DJing, did you play a specific instrument growing up?
DH: When I was younger I played the piano around the age of 8 but gave it up for the game of football (well Soccer in America, the proper football) at the age of 12. When I was 10, I fooled around with my step-brothers decks and that’s how I was introduced to what a DJ actually does. I was really intrigued, I wanted to learn and tried but I was quite rubbish. I didn’t take it seriously until I was at Uni (College) when I had more free time to teach myself how to DJ.
212: What was the first big opportunity that helped propel you into the industry?
DH: I had a friend who was living in Egypt at the time and once he got word that I was DJing after school, he invited me to accept an offer to have a residency at the world famous brand ‘Ministry of Sound’ during the Summer. Unfortunately, after three months the revolution started which was not fun and it cut my time quite short.
212: Tell us more about the process behind BBC Radio 1 Superstar DJ competition you won
DH: There was six of us in the finals, I don’t know how many applied but I can only imagine it was in thousands. I never thought I would get to the final or even win it. The six finalists went down to London to Radio 1 and over a course of a week, we had to do different DJ task and challenges. We had to do a mixing challenge, a microphone challenge, a remix and the final task was mixing live on air for the Breakfast Show in front of millions of listeners. I don’t know how I won but I did and I’m so blessed to have this opportunity.
212: What was the next step for your career after winning the BBC contest?
DH: The competition really got my foot in the door at Radio 1 and got the bosses to notice what I could do. It was from winning to the year after that really required a lot of hard work, emails, pilots, demos and practicing to actually get my own show on BBC 1. I started in April 2012 and it’s going to be 3 years next year, I can’t believe it. Being broadcasted across the world, as well as my Sirius XM has really motivated me to work hard every day on my craft. I’m trying to get the most radio play as possible.
212: How important is networking in the music industry? Do you have a friend or mentor that has helped you grow?
DH: I think anything in life that you do whether it’s DJing or fashion or sports, it’s important to make connections and nurture those so you have the right contacts to be able to progress. From here, you know who to talk to and where to go to pick up different skills and experiences. After winning the contest, I spun in Ibiza at the BBC Radio 1 weekend and a bunch of big DJs were there. I shared my story and they were all very interested congratulated me, I made some good friends. Most notably Paul Oakenfold who told me he would call me next week (laughs). He did and I couldn’t believe it, we’ve been friends, colleagues and associates ever since. I actually played Pacha NYC with Paul last year.
212: Tell us about some of your more recent singles, remixes, collaborations and the process behind working with other artists.
DH: I work a lot with the Futuristic Polar Bears (Luke is here with us) and that actually stemmed from us having a mutual friend, his girlfriend. After I won the contest, he reached out and suggested we start making some tracks together. He knew I wanted to get into producing and it made sense to do that organically. It’s always good to work with your friends because you can trust each other and when it comes into a collaboration, there is less barriers which fosters a more creative and natural environment. The last single we released on Spinnin’ Records, “Romani” topped at #5 in the Progressive House chart on Beatport.
212: How involved are you in the creative process for music videos?
DH: To be honest and transparent, we aren’t that involved in the process. We oversee and tell the designers what we want but they come back with something completely different. We then approve it but the guys doing it for us are really good, smart, slick and their ideas are different than what’s out there in the industry. One designer told us our single “Vargo” just made him want to dance but really just dance. We want to reflect that in the videos and it’s quite simple but it just works.
Big thanks for Danny and his team for our time earlier today, be on the lookout for part two of our interview soon! Don’t miss his set tonight at Pacha!