2011 was a remarkable year for Danny Howard, the emerging DJ talent from the North West of England.
Firstly Danny won the BBC Radio 1 superstar DJ award and jetted off to Ibiza to open the show for the station's epic weekend in the undisputed party capital of the world.
Then he supported Fatboy Slim on his UK tour in his home-town Blackpool's Empress Ballroom, before finishing the year presenting a 12-hour rewind special on Radio 1 of highlights from the Ibiza gig during the summer.
Quite the success story for a DJ that has only been going for five years.
MM fired some questions at the self styled 'Sexy House' star about the rapid rise to fame he has enjoyed and what 2012 holds for him...
How did it feel to become Radio 1's 'Superstar DJ'?
How would you feel if you won the lottery?! It was like that! It is the ultimate prize for any DJ… to play for Radio 1 in Ibiza…It doesn’t get much bigger than that and I still smile about that week every time I think about it.
How big a role has Radio 1 played in your career thus far?
I’ve always listened to Radio 1 ever since I can remember. Judge Jules & Pete Tong used to head up a Saturday night (before moving to Fridays) and I used to tune in religiously. It was the only place to hear the latest dance tracks of the moment! And now Radio 1 has given me a platform to show what I can do and has given me exposure that some work decades for!
However, you have to remember that audiences have short memories so when people assume that I’ve ‘made it’ and that I have everything on a plate now (which I don’t), I am actually working harder than ever on my productions & my DJing to make sure I make the most of winning that amazing competition.
How did your 12 hour Ibiza rewind special on Radio 1 after Christmas go?
I was over the moon with it! The fact I even got asked to do it was an honour and a dream come true and the reaction I got from everyone from the bosses at Radio 1 to my closest friends was positive, so I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
Do you have high hopes for your single 'Twenty-Nine' that comes out in March?
I do! It’s my first full solo release so naturally, I want it to be received well by all big DJs and more importantly, clubbers & listeners. The fact that it’s been signed to one of the biggest dance music labels in the world (Spinnin Records) is a great start though and it’s still something I pinch myself about! I’m really excited about it.
Where can your fans catch your latest music?
In terms of my own show, I currently have my podcast played out on various radio stations across the world, which is pretty cool but you can also listen to it on my Mixcloud page. I love the whole Radio industry and since I’ve had an up close insight into it through Radio 1, it’s definitely something I will be pursuing in the future.
What do you think are the most important characteristics of a successful DJ?
A successful DJ has to be open minded and flexible. Your dance floor is different every time you play so you have to be prepared to change and be diverse with the tracks you select. I meet so many DJs who will only play one style and one way and they are so snobby when it comes to music, it’s like they’re brainwashed into thinking that their way is the only way… Unfortunately unless you’re a world-renowned producer/DJ, it’s almost impossible to become successful with that attitude.
What do you think is the secret of your own personal success?
As above really, my music is House! But I like to be versatile and bring in elements of other genres into my sets. Not only does it make it interesting, but it also captures a wider audience into appreciating what it is I do. Oh and smile and be nice J Nobody likes a moody, arrogant prick!
When did you decide that you wanted to be a dance music DJ?
I’ve always loved dance music! Ever since I was like 7 and my older brother used to play hard house and bounce cassette tapes at full blast from his room! Not one for the harder style of torture that he liked, I found house music! My best friend also had the same passion for the genre and we used to watch videos of Tiesto (even though he played trance) playing live to thousands of people in arenas every night after school… it was then I decided I wanted to be a DJ!
Which DJs have inspired your work?
I feel like I repeat myself when I get asked this question but it’s always the same answer because this guy is such a legend and inspiration to anyone! Erick Morillo is my hero! From seeing him play in my hometown of Blackpool (yes… he actually came there) to tearing a new one into Pacha, Ibiza… his energy behind the decks and the way he plays his music is amazing!
What advice would you give to other young DJs and producers coming through the industry?
I would give advice that someone once gave me and something I still do everyday! Be Tenacious! Make sure you do everything to 100% of your ability, don’t put out something, (whether it be a DJ mix or Production) that your only 99% happy with. Sometimes opportunities come round once in a blue moon (if that) so you have to be ready to take them with both hands!
What do you prefer; creating your own tracks or remixing others?
Definitely creating my own! This is where you can show what your about, your influences and your style. There’s no boundaries, you can just create anything you want!
You recently moved to Manchester, what is it that drew you to the city?
The honest answer to that was due to my girlfriend’s work being here! But, I am glad I made the move as it’s always vibrant, always something going on and the club scene is awesome….That and I’m more central now to travel up and down the UK for gigs! I was living in Blackpool and I’m still back there at least 2 or 3 times a week either playing a gig, seeing friends & family or playing 5 a side football!
How would you describe Manchester's club scene?
One of the healthiest in the UK! All dance music is covered at some of the cities awesome venues including Sankeys & Warehouse Project. The biggest artists in the world play here and everyone is all for new music and new/breakthrough acts! I could list so many amazing parties to hit up but you’d be here for hours but I will mention Bitch! at Venus Nightclub which I’m playing at the end of Feb with a good friend of mine, Kryder! I played on the line up for this night back in October with Arno Cost & Tim Mason and it was one of the highlights of 2011 for me… a great crowd and a great club so I’m really excited to get back on the decks there.
What are your aims for the next five years? Do you have a plan or do you just go with the flow?
I think anyone who just ‘goes with the flow’ won’t get anywhere near where they could in their career. It’s important to have a plan and targets but I don’t want to jinx myself and reveal all! Let’s just say I will continue to work as hard as I can with my production and playing awesome gigs J
What are your favourite tracks out at the moment?
At the moment my favourite track is Nicky Romero – Generation 303. Nicky Romero will be huge this summer! Also, Skrillex – Break’n a Sweat (Zedd Remix) is so massive right now…
Finally Danny, if you weren't a DJ what would you be doing now?
Well my degree is in Sport & Exercise Science so I’d probably be in a gym/running track or a laboratory testing out the latest developments in improving athletic performance! If that didn’t work out… probably on the wrong side of the bar!
MM would like to offer a warm welcome to Manchester to Danny, who will be performing at Venus nightclub on Saturday night for the 'Bitch' event.