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Interview: Danny Howells

Danny Howells has been in the circuit since the early 90’s dazzling us with some of the most epic sets in dance music history. The level of quality and passion that characterizes his music is truly stuff of legends. We’ve seen him play countless times and there are very few artists that handle the dance-floor like he does. As usual, Danny has an intensive schedule and we were quite lucky to get a chance to talk with him. Here’s how it went…

Electronic Groove: Hi Danny, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions. You’ve been djing and producing for a long time. What are your thoughts on the evolution of dance music?

Danny Howells: It moves all the time, I can’t keep track. I never pay much attention to it. My focus is always on “what good tracks can I find this week” and doing my best to pick the ones that are going to work the best on that weekend. I’m in such a tiny bubble as far as the whole electronic scene goes; it’s such a nice place to be.

EG: You’ve played in festivals, big clubs, small clubs, tikki boats, and private parties. Where do you prefer playing and why?

DH: Festivals are amazing if they’re quirky, different and non-EDM. Glastonbury is my favourite event in the whole world because I can go and see some random psychedelic rock band, then see the Stones, then see some acid-folk band, then spend the night meeting new people, it’s beyond eclectic. I LOVED playing at Lighting in a Bottle, it was just so cool and relaxed. But on the whole it’s all about small clubs for me. Intimacy is key; I want to be a few feet from the crowd. The Tikki events were amazing, I miss them…

EG: After a few gigs during MMW, what’s your impression of the scene in our city? Do you miss the “Made in Bed” days?

DH: I always love Miami, and the last few years have seen some unreal gigs at the Pickle and at Do Not Sit. It’s a lot different to my Space days but these are clubs that feel like family and I know I would fail so miserably if I ever went back to Space or somewhere like that. My music changed and, if I’m honest, it wasn’t even right for those kind of venues even then! But my Miami experience this year was so much fun. I won’t lie and say everything was packed but each of the three gigs was so enjoyable and the final one at Do No Sit was amazing.

EG: We’ve seen many parties that have so many artists with very short playing times. What’s your take on this?

DH: It’s a new crowd; it’s probably all they know. Plus people compete and try and cram as many “artists” as they can on a flyer. It’s silly really. But if you put a party on with 15 guys playing 45 minutes each or me playing a 9-hour set, I think my party might be pretty quiet!

EG: You’ve done several B2B in your career. What’s the process behind delivering a great B2B set?

DH: You have to love the person you’re playing with, either musically or as a person. If you connect, I think you can do a great B2B. I just did two amazing B2B sets with Hernan Cattaneo, I HOPE I can do more with Cassy this year as I adore her as a person as well as musically.

EG: We’ve seen you take over social media to create awareness about animal mistreatments as well as other social issues. Tell us where does this come from?

DH: I take a fair bit of time off and I prefer to devote it to causes more worthy than myself. I’ve been involved in animal charities, either online fundraising or even being out in the street waving buckets around to collect money, for a while now. Animals don’t have a voice, we do. They are abused, tortured, mistreated, murdered every single day just so humans can grab a quick burger or a nugget. I know we don’t need animal protein to survive and I’m very aware of the lies and “myths” that have been created by the meat and dairy industry, so I feel a need to try and share (not force!) ideas and so on whenever I can. It can be so rewarding. But it can be so frustrating sometimes just dealing with the ignorance of certain people who come out with the ridiculous old “clichés” and “jokes” like “mmm bacon” when you make a post that refers to cruelty to pigs. Oh, we didn’t hear that before, how hilarious!

EG: You’ve been auctioning some cool memorabilia to raise money for the CALF Sanctuary. How’s this been so far and what’s the overall reaction for your following?

DH: Nothing but absolutely amazing. I received way more for my ghastly GU Miami outfit than I thought I would, and I also auctioned off a “private party” that raised really good money, which is also going to be a blast. The current auction for the Sasha/Digweed Renaissance poster is going insane, I’m so happy.

EG: We are guessing you are on a vegetarian diet. Should we become vegans?

DH: Well, I was 96% vegan until Christmas, which was when I decided I couldn’t eat dairy again and have been 100% vegan since. We all have our own choices (except for the animals being killed) but really, after lots of research and discussion, I just don’t feel I can justify eating any of that again. I don’t want to be responsible for a lamb getting its throat cut or a foal being torn from it’s Mum. My diet is so much more varied and healthy now than it ever was. If you want to eat whatever you want, do it but don’t you dare go slagging others that are trying to do the right thing. I do advise seriously looking into it and seeing what you are contributing to. Cowspiracy is a movie that I recommend to many, and it’s frightening to see the relationship between meat consumption and the unbelievable damage to the environment. There’s a whole load of great films that are worth watching, Forks Over Knives, Food Inc, etc. Anyways, besides all that, I think my body would repel anything like meat now. Even fake meat is starting to scare me haha!

EG: Music has been used as a tool to unify and create awareness on various social to political issues. Any plans on taking your awareness on tour?

DH: I’d love to! Get a tour on with someone who feels the same, like Chris Liebing, and a few others. Do a talk somewhere and then do a club gig. Would be brilliant. Ask him!

EG: You are coming from “Doin’ It to Death” and “Don’t Sit Down” tours. Are you keeping this flow into summer or is there any studio time in the horizon?

DH: The “Don’t Sit Down” tour was amazing, and the name was a very subtle nod to Bowie, who I shall miss forever. There will be 2/3 more American tours this year. My studio time will return when my studio muse returns. Right now I just put all that energy into finding obscure new tunes… ones that I hope other DJs will be Shazaming, and putting the best sets together that I can.

EG: We were going back to our podcast catalog and it’s amazing that you’ve done 4 episodes already. Any chance of coming for a 5th… maybe our After series?

DH: Definitely. Although you know how slowly I can be 😉

EG: Thanks Danny, as always some lovely and insightful talk.

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