Danny Howard pays a second visit to The Gallery at Ministry of Sound this Friday, marking the launch of his forthcoming compilation ‘Clubbers Guide 2013.’ From a pair of 1210s and humble beginnings, to re-launching the legendary ‘Dance Anthems’ show on BBC Radio 1 - Danny’s rise to fame is the stuff dreams are made of. We met up to live it with him…
The venue is Ministry of Sound’s luxurious VIP lounge, conversely where Danny casually sips a J20. Smiling and friendly, it’s a far cry from the prima donna DJ culture instilled by the tabloids. This down to earth aura, aligned with how he first got involved with DJing. “When I was 10, my older stepbrother had a pair of decks. That was my first experience of how a DJ operates, which I found very interesting.” Though it was to be nine years later, until Danny first managed to try himself. He explains “I borrowed an old pair of Technics from a friend, dusted them off, took them to my uni room and practised mixing every day.”
So Danny’s coursework took a back seat. But this dedication to the cause, most definitely reaped its reward, in the form of winning a headline gig at Ushuaia, through an Ibiza DJ competition hosted by Radio 1. Danny reflects “it took some persuasion for me to enter, not being keen until my mates and girlfriend twisted by arm! After winning I kept in contact with the crew, doing various features plus an Ibiza highlights show for 2011.” Building up his broadcast portfolio meant Danny was the Beeb’s prime candidate to front the newly re-vamped ‘Dance Anthems’ show. After a successful series of pilots, he completed his inaugural broadcast in April 2012.
However, switching from its traditional Sunday evening slot to Saturday afternoon meant programming ‘Dance Anthems became more of a challenge, hence a complex planning process, which Danny begins well in advance. “I’ll start to consider on Monday which tracks to play, getting them together for the first two hours. It’s important to tailor this section, for those who may not have a detailed knowledge of dance music. Slowly building up to tracks you may hear at The Gallery, the third hour is a mix section. Tuesday and Wednesday is spent selecting tracks for this. On Thursday, it’s time to actually record the mix, and think of any extra bits to talk about! From start to finish, it’s about placing the tracks into a logical sequence. That’s why I love it, as it’s tailored it for such a wide audience…”
Danny then dispels the common myth his show is pre-recorded. In fact BBC regulations concerning ‘daytime’ shows, stipulate they have to be transmitted live. Added pressure then, when considering an audience in excess of two million listeners! Although Danny’s club sets do not involve the same resolution of planning, the radio show is vital for experimenting with new music and how different sounds combine -experience which should bode well for the new ‘Clubbers Guide 2013’ CD! Effectively a musical montage, which represents the club sound of today - “Clubbers Guide 2013 fits with my radio work, playing dance music which everyone wants to hear, so getting involved with Clubbers Guide 2013 is almost a natural combination, and reflects the varied genres of house music I play elsewhere.”
As if the aforementioned routine doesn’t confirm Danny’s penchant for detail, it’s further highlighted when revealing his method for mixing ‘Clubbers Guide 2013.’ As the digital debate seemingly rages on, Ableton was the preferred option here. “When you’re doing something as important as Clubbers Guide, you need to ensure everything is seamless. So the transitions are smooth and it sounds tight. I also wanted to do justice, to the artists whose tracks feature. Ableton gives me the power to fully shape and control the mix, for example at what point the vocals enter. Having this power, is something CDJs don’t allow.
What isn’t dictated by technology, is Danny’s resolve to stamp his mark on the Clubbers Guide legacy. Tried and tested anthems of course take pride of place, but entwined with the slightly more leftfield. You could say, throwing the cat amongst the ‘Clubbers Guide’ pigeons! Or as Danny elaborates “it’s important to give people a little bit of an education. So I’ve included the big upfront hits, followed by a track they won’t know. So it gives more variety, but without compromising on quality. From listening, people should realise there’s more than just what they hear on the radio.”
Amen! And it would be wrong to sign off, without Danny Howard’s very own guide to clubbing. ‘Clubbers Guide,’ ‘guide to clubbing.’ It’s clever stuff…
What to wear?
Whatever you feel comfortable in. Whether that be a smart shirt with jeans, or chicken suit. Just go with it!
An ice cold Corona. Once in the club, it’s a vodka cranberry…
Travel to the club?
Depends where you are! Though prefer to hop in a cab.
Would love to say early. But with my organisation and timekeeping skills, it’s fashionably late I’m afraid.
For festivals or big nights, it’s always the front. But if it’s going off, shouldn’t matter where you stand! Though generally not at the back, as it’s hard to get involved. I’ll say middle or front…
Check out Danny's website here.
Friday 8th February
Danny Howard (Clubbers Guide 2013 launch)
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