THE former host of Radio 1’s dance anthems, and now part of the legendary Friday night crew alongside Pete Tong and Annie Mac, Danny Howard has gone from strength to strength since his discovery on the Radio 1 talent program back in 2011.
With releases on respected labels like Food Music, Glasgow Underground, and Toolroom Records, Danny’s reputation as a producer continues to grow. Now, with the relaunch of his own imprint Nothing Else Matters, an exciting future lies ahead both for himself and the label.
We caught up with Danny to talk through this exciting new chapter for Nothing Else Matters, along with his close relationship with UK powerhouse brand Toolroom and his DJing highlights from this year.
Last month saw the relaunch of your own imprint Nothing Else Matters, with an emotive club record featuring vocals from London duo Eli & Fur. What was your motivation behind this track and the relaunch of the label?
When it came to launching the label, I wanted the first few releases to represent a broad sound of electronic music and not be instantly pigeon holed so I thought the track with Eli & Fur was perfect and I was thrilled with the response, it also went to #1 in the Beatport progressive house chart!
Nothing Else Matters hosted its own stage once again at ABODE in the park recently. What was it about this festival which made you want to return?
The best thing about this festival are the people. It’s full of an up for it, energetic but also educated crowd, they know their tunes!
What does the future look like for Nothing Else Matters? Are there any exciting plans in place for 2020 which you can tell us about?
It feels like starting again because we launched the label in 2015 but we were set up within a major corporation and it didn’t quite work out because they wanted hits and I wanted to focus on club.
Now, we’re independent and I have full freedom to release whatever I want which is refreshing but also great for building a ‘sound’.
Right now we are just re-establishing ourselves getting as many quality releases out as we can then in 2020 we will start to go back into the events side of things. Keep an eye out.
Can you define your label in 5 words or less?
Quality Electronic Music for Clubs
You’ve featured as part of the Toolroom family many times over the years, releasing tracks and performing at their shows, with upcoming sets for their label parties at Amsterdam Dance Event and for Halloween at The Source Bar in the label’s home town of Maidstone. What is it about Toolroom that stands out for you?
For me it’s two things, the energy they have in all the records they release, every single one is a weapon for the dance floor which as a DJ is brilliant, they’re in tune with the clubs and then secondly, the family vibe! Everyone that works and releases with the label do it because they love the brand, everyone is super friendly and working hard towards the same goals, it’s a very inclusive set up which is why they have such a loyal fan base.
Another year of Ibiza residences are set to end next month, with yourself having played multiple times throughout the summer. Have there been any parties on the island which have been a highlight for you this year?
All the parties I’ve played have been amazing, I’ve been very lucky but the stand out night for me had to be playing the Theatre room at Hï for my good friends Camelphat, Solardo and Fisher. The energy was insane, the club production is next level and it felt like a festival indoors! I had many great nights in that room when it was Space and that’s the first time since it’s been Hï that I’ve felt that same vibe from the first time I went in 2008!
Your BBC Radio 1 show is now a globally recognised platform for steering and influencing the UK dance scene, with yourself becoming a tastemaker for multiple genres. Talk us through how you approached the show when first joining the likes of Pete Tong and Annie Mac on the renowned Friday night programme.
Firstly, it’s a huge honour to be part of the legendary Friday night line-up on BBC Radio 1. I used to listen as a kid to Pete Tong, listening out for the freshest, most exciting new music around so I guess that’s the first, fundamental part of what I do on my 11pm show. I feel it’s our duty to be searching far and wide for the best in electronic music and showcasing it every Friday.
To have a point of difference, you could say my show is UK focused. I’m out and about every week, in the club, listening to what is being played so I try to reflect that on my show, it’s very audience facing and I see it as a direct link from the club to the radio, bringing the vibes for the weekend!
Aside from the radio shows, your busy DJing calendar takes you around the world to perform. Are there any destinations or venues which you always look forward to playing?
I always look forward to Ibiza simply because it’s still the epicentre of dance music for me, the energy, the clubs, the DJs, the people… you don’t find a combination like it anywhere in the world, it is truly special!
Shout out to Croatia though, I’ve played there many times over the last few years and they’ve got something going on that is resonating with ravers all over the world.
You’ve had a hand in supporting the careers of many DJs, especially when they are up and coming. If you could go b2b with anyone in history though, who would it be and why?
Well honestly I have to say Erick Morillo. He is the DJ responsible for making me want to seriously become a DJ in the first place after I saw him absolutely smash Pacha in summer 2008. The connection he had with the crowd was like he was some sort of wizard controlling them with every beat he dropped. The passion and energy he put in behind the decks was something I admired and wanted to emulate in my own DJ style one day. I followed him ever since and over the last few years we’ve actually become friends and that b2b did happen! We played together in London a couple of years ago and it was a moment I’ll never forget.
What’s your experience of the music being played out back when you first started DJing, to now? How has it changed for you? Do you still craft your sets in the same way?
When I very first tried my hand at DJing, it was at home on my brothers vinyl turn tables so I guess that the first massive change. Whilst some DJs still opt for vinyl, for me in this fast paced world, it isn’t practical, especially travelling hand luggage everywhere! Now, I turn up with a USB and headphones, plug in and go!
In terms of crafting my sets, that is still the same because I’ve spent so many years learning how to read a crowd, developing confidence to be able to take a crowd up, down, left and right and just knowing when to drop the right record to create a ‘moment’, it’s the old skool way of DJing but I still think it’s the best way today. If I can give advice to anyone wanting to become a top DJ, I would say that is the most important thing to learn.
Catch Danny Howard on BBC Radio 1 every Friday night at 11pm.