Danny Howard: “I still have to pinch myself to believe this is all happening”
This time last year, Danny Howard was a Sports Science student at Edge Hill who occasionally Dj’d in his student union. Then his life was turned upside down after he won a Radio 1 Dj competition in August last year where he got the opportunity to play to 5000 people at the official R1 party at Ushuaia. He now hosts the much coveted Dance Anthems Dj show on the same station, has a residency and close friendship with Judge Jules and is playing around the world in cities such as Las Vegas. TIP catches up with the 24-year old to find out how his life has changed.
What was your experience in the throes of the Radio 1 competition last year? Was it a pleasurable one overall? How did it feel to be playing Ushuaia and then high-tailing swiftly over to Space?
I was never actually going to enter. I had heard about it - I always listened to R1 to all shows, but I never thought I was going to win it which is why I didn’t enter. A couple of friends, however, told me “Look just enter it!”. So I sent in my entry and got to London to compete in final six.
When I got to the studios, having been a listener there all my life, the whole feeling was just completely surreal. I wasn’t really nervous, it was all happening so quickly. I just took each day as it came. Friends called me everyday saying: “You’re going to win Danny”, but I never believed that I could until it was down to the final two. Listening back to ‘that’ moment when Chris Moyles said I had won was the moment that changed my life.
I was then straight in a car that whisked me off to Ibiza, but I had only packed half heartedly. I had to head to Oxford St to pick up some more clothes!
It’s true, playing in front of 5000 people was a bit daunting but people just said: “Smile, look like you’re enjoying it. Remember if you look the part you’re half way there!”
What's your history with Ibiza? How long were you coming as a punter (if at all?!), and how much have you played over here before last year?
I have been a couple of times but as soon as I’d been once, I was hooked. Ibiza is something different compared to anywhere else. “Educated” clubbers who really understand music and what Ibiza is, tend to head there. That’s what I love about the place.
What does the island mean to you? What particular memories do you have of the place? Any special locations, secret tips?
In Ibiza you feel comfortable. There’s a really good atmosphere around the place with so much on offer. So much music around the place with all tastes and I understand it. Djs definitely need to be a bit versatile by playing to different music tastes, but that’s just the evolving nature of music.
Apart from the music I love the undiscovered beaches - there’s no where else in the world like Ibiza.
Run us through exactly what you're up to in Ibiza this year. Where are you holding residencies, who are you playing for?
I’m doing a fortnightly residency at Eden this year on Judgement Sundays. Jules approached me and we met up and spoke for half an hour. He gave him some good advice and has been very supportive since last August. So I’m playing with him this year which should be awesome.
Many are touting 2012 as a year of change for Ibiza. What do you think about this - is there a shift in tastes and attitudes on the island. What music is getting the best reaction at present?
Ibiza has always been about change. Anyone that has been there will know it now embraces all different kinds of music. The guy behind Ibiza Rocks, obviously wanted to try something new and people took to it, despite a lot of the experts telling him it wouldn’t work. Look at it now! And look at Example - biggest music in dance music but he is a rapper. And we’ve also just had the 123 festival. It’s all about the show now - it’s no longer just a Dj behind the desks. It’s about being a showman. The big names have got these massive light and laser shows.
How are you approaching your sets in Ibiza? As a representative of radio 1 do you feel bound to the station even when you DJ out independently of the R1 banner? Does that affect your tune selection? Do you feel a need to keep your selections broad and accessible to appeal to a wide range of people? Does it make it harder to take risks and push the envelope?
Sets need to sound fresh. I’ve always hated hated just standing there while records play so I’m always scratching and looping. I’m looking to push the boundaries. But Pete Tong and Anne Mac are well ahead of the game - they’re discovering and playing new music all the time.
How does it feel to be taking over the hallowed Dance Anthems mantle for Radio 1? Is there any pressure or does it come naturally?
I have to keep pinching myself that this is all happening. I look at the R1 logo as I’m presenting my show and still can’t believe it. We get hundreds of texts everyday saying how much they love the show. Saturday nights on R1 have really come back having been a few years away. I’m really loving it!
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