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BBC Radio 1's Danny Howard joins DJ Mag for a new monthly column

When Radio 1's new kid on the block Danny Howard first started going out in his hometown of Blackpool, he used to go to a huge club called The Syndicate — at 4300-capacity, one of the largest clubs in the UK at the time (it closed in 2011). 

“I used to go religiously every week,” Danny tells DJ Mag. “It had the world’s biggest DJs play there from Armin van Buuren and Paul Oakenfold to Erick Morillo and Laidback Luke. My dream and long-term goal for my DJ career was to play just one set in that club. I was so lucky it came true, and I had a short one-year spell as resident in the main room. I thought I’d made it!”

Danny had started to learn to DJ as a 19-year-old at uni in nearby Ormskirk, and then in 2011, Radio 1 ran a Superstar DJ competition that his friends and family persuaded him to enter. “I just thought, 'There’s nothing to lose, so let’s just do it!'” he recalls.

He got his friend who was into video editing to help him put together his application with the promise that if Danny won the comp, his mate would be the person he took to Ibiza with him as part of the prize. “Obviously thinking I would never win!” laughs Danny. “Safe to say, he was probably the only person happier than me at the win!”

As part of the prize, he opened Radio 1's Ibiza Weekend at Ushuaia in front of 5000 people — quite a baptism for his first island gig. He didn't just walk into his own Radio 1 show straight after that, though.

“It was a good nine months between winning the competition and starting the radio show, after lots of demos and pilots,” Danny explains. “They definitely took a chance on me as I’d never done any kind of radio before, but I worked hard to make sure I was ready before going on air — and I’m still learning now.”

Danny was given the Dance Anthems show in the middle of 2012, and hasn't really looked back since. “The buzz you get from radio is indescribable, and I love doing it every single week,” he says. “I’m so lucky that I broadcast on BBC Radio 1, it’s such a huge platform with millions of listeners, it gives me a great opportunity to play new music and new artists that I believe are relevant or breaking through.

Also, as a network, Radio 1 are so passionate about dance and electronic music that it makes it the best radio station in this area in the world. To be a part of that is truly a dream!”

His favourite styles of music cover all the genres of house.

“Everything from big room and progressive to the deeper tech sound, and weird darker electronica stuff too,” he outlines. “I’m so open-minded and versatile when it comes to electronic music, which I believe is imperative with the role I play on the radio.

Although I have my own personal taste and opinion, there’s no room for musical snobbery and it’s important — as a broadcaster — to appreciate and respect all genres across the board.”

The Radio 1-approved double-disc 'Dance Anthems' comp that Danny released via Ministry last season is testimony to his across-the-board tastes, but he was humbled when it got to No.2 in the album charts. “That was an amazing feeling,” he says.

“I think the main point to take out of the success of the album is that it’s a reflection of just how huge dance music is on a mainstream level. For me, this is a good thing for the scene because people enter on a mainstream level and then dig deeper in the search to be educated more and discover new sounds and genres.”

Danny, who is signed to Spinnin Records, says he's excited about Radio 1's Big Weekend in Glasgow on 24th May (“Trust me when I say they know how to have 

a party in Scotland!”), and tantalisingly says that there are some huge names booked for the show that he's not allowed to reveal yet. What he can reveal, though, is his new Nothing Else Matters brand, via which he's putting on events up and down the country.

“The concept is about having a line-up filled with UK-only talent consisting of a mixed balance between new talent and the odd special guest,” he says, having debuted the concept last December with Disclosure, Grum and Hannah Wants on the bill — as well as Big Daddy Tong.

“The reason I want to do this is because, whilst the Dutch, Germans, Swedish and Americans are currently ruling the dance market worldwide, I see so much talent on offer right here in our very own country, so I want to be a part of promoting that by giving new producers and DJs a chance to do their thing at my showcase parties,” Danny continues.

“In the digital world that we now live in, music and artists are cropping up all the time, sounds are changing, the scene is evolving and moving at lightning pace, so every month I will be on hand to update you on the highlights of the British dance scene and general riff-raff direct from the dancefloor!”