It’s been a whirlwind four years for Danny Howard, kicking off with his first show on BBC Radio 1 this time in 2012 and winding up with a fresh label to his name this spring, cementing the multi-talented DJ’s coveted position as both Jack and Master of almost all dance music trades. In between those two achievements, Howard has recorded, produced, radio presented, written articles, created podcasts, been signed to a major label, run his own party series and probably, somewhere, at some point, slept a bit. But don’t fact check me on that last bit.
For Howard, music is simply meant to be shared - and he’s built a formidable career on that premise. He’s learned to know what the people want and how to give it to them, so it’s no surprise Howard’s ascension in the ranks has been so swift. We catch up with him as his new label Nothing Else Matters kicks off proper, celebrated with an almighty bash from his party series of the same name this weekend. It’s clear to see Danny has a lot of positive vibes to put out into the dance music world, as he speaks eloquently about the scene he so loves…
You’ve had a very successful four years since your first BBC Radio 1 show – what are the some of the most important things you’ve learned about the music industry?
“One of the most important things I’ve learnt is that the industry is so well connected, it actually seems quite small… everyone who knows someone, knows someone. For that reason, you need to use that to your advantage for networking, building relationships & doing business but it’s also because of this reason that it helps to be nice and humble… together with hard-work can get you far in music!”
Do you think music is best enjoyed when shared? Why do you think some DJs prefer to be protective and secretive over their tune hunting?
“Definitely! This is where we’re at with music consumption now because of streaming, social media and video. I can understand DJ’s want to have exclusive material within their sets (because let’s face it, everyone can play the same music so you need to have a point of difference), but it’s not like the vinyl era where only 10 DJ’s would have a copy of a track months before it went to the public. When people hear music, they want it and the fact they can get it is proving to be more lucrative for the music industry on a whole as for the first time in twenty years, sales were up in 2015. DJ’s will always have special edits and remixes of their own to add a point of difference to their live shows but generally speaking, it’s about giving people what they want and not being shady about it.”
So many artists are driven to start their own label, often at far more premature stages in their career than your own. Why do you think contemporary artists are so eager to have their own imprint as soon as possible?
“Mainly freedom… So many labels and their A&R guys try to influence the final version of a track and rightly so, it has to fit their brand and sound that they’ve invested into to building. However, some artists are happy without the interference of someone else so they just do it on their own… some more successful than others. Another reason is so they can build up their own roster of emerging talent through a label and if some of those releases are successful, before you know it, you’ve got your own crew, your own brand, your own sound…It’s hard to accomplish but if you do then it puts you in your own lane from both a business and live perspective.”
What aspect of the label running process ahead of you are you most excited about?
“Finding new emerging artists. I can’t wait to have that one demo drop into my inbox from an unknown kid who’s been producing for fun at home but delivers a nailed on banger!”
Are your Nothing Else Matters parties a good indication of the kind of music we can expect to come out of the label?
“In the long run, yes. Being under the Sony umbrella, we’re in this to find the next Disclosure, the next Calvin Harris or the next Flume, but that is the bigger picture. We’re also going to be doing club level releases which will be a reflection of the club nights and vice-versa…everything from uplifting, feel good house music to the darker, more warehouse vibe techy rollers! Look out for a new curated EP from myself featuring some really talented up & coming UK producers…just in time for Ibiza.”
As both Jack and Master of so many music trades, do you ever need to take a break from all the noise?
“Haha thanks! I was thinking about this other day how I never ever have a day off from music and I guess I couldn’t! I love it too much but of course at gigs I wear ear protection to stop me going deaf but until that happens (hopefully never!), I’ll just keep absorbing.”