Take one listen and you'll realize immediately why it's so fitting that Danny Howells first "Totally Funked" party was held in celebration of Prince's birthday. While the DJ/producer may often be lumped in with the progressive house scene, his love of pop music is undeniable.
But back to those progressive house beginnings for a moment: Things first started for Howells in 1992 after a friend gave one of his mix tapes to John Digweed, who then approached him to become a weekly resident at Bedrock in his home town of Hastings. It was this residency that led Global Underground to tap him as part of the Nubreed and award him a mix slot in 2000 that pushed his career into overdrive, as he racked up residencies in Nottingham, New York and London on top of his punishing DJ schedule around the world.
A number of other compilations for GU, Azuli and Renaissance followed, as well as studio collaborations with Dick Trevor as Science Department. But he's hardly lost his touch: His most recent mix for Renaissance has deeply melodic inclusions from Sven Weisemann and Lawrence nestling alongside techier cuts from Joris Voorn and Santiago Salazar. For his RA podcast, though, as we alluded to above, he chose to go a little bit poppier. We caught up with Danny by e-mail to chat about the mix, his Dig Deeper label and trying to stay sober on New Year's Eve.What have you been working on recently?
This mix! Also, I've been preparing for the first release on my Dig Deeper label, which is launching in January. Touring has been hectic, with Oz, New Zealand, USA, Canada and Mexico over the last two months, along with six great gigs in South America and a whole host of parties around Europe. It's been busy, but all of it has been really enjoyable. I've also been doing domestic stuff like defrosting my freezer, but I don't think this is the right place to go into that!Will your Dig Deeper label just focus on your own original material, or will you be getting other artists in to contribute original tracks?
For now, it will be only my own stuff. I think if I had a regular influx of great, available stuff from other people then I'd go for that too, but I think it would be a bit odd if only one out of ten releases were by somebody else. However if something comes my way that I just can't resist, I'll do it, and make sure I do a mix on it too.Is there anyone that you really wanted to get to do a remix, but couldn't for some reason?
Weatherall! There's one track I've done which is mid-tempo with slightly rock-ish beats, that I would have loved him to work on. It was influenced a bit by [Simple Minds'] "Theme for Great Cities," and he was my first choice for remix. However, I think he'd be just a bit too expensive! His Villalobos mix is an amazing track that I still listen to regularly, and I'm a huge fan of the Two Lone Swordsmen albums. The guy's basically my hero!How and where was this mix recorded?
Mainly whilst flying across South America on my recent tour, as well as countless hotel rooms and airports. Obviously I carry mainly dance music with me when I travel, so I was having to use "iPod Access" to grab tunes from my iPod. There's also a little extract in there of a mix I started but never finished in 2003, back in sunny old Hastings. The mix was done on Logic Pro, using iZotope Radius for all the time stretching.Can you tell us a little about the mix?
It's just a selection of songs I like! Nothing too serious really, and bit of a party mix I suppose. When I found out about this mix, I nearly had to turn it down as I didn't know where to start, and had so very little time off to do it. Then I remembered that mix from 2003 I started, which has the transition from DJ Shadow into Justin Warfield, and I remember I always wanted to use that. So that gave me a starting point I could work from. The Beasties edit was something I originally had in mind for my Choice album but then never used, so there are few little bits in there from the last few years that gave me a bit of a kick start.You're playing at Ministry Of Sound on NYE. Do you have any special tricks up your sleeve for the occasion?
Yes, I'll be staying sober and coherent! I really can't put it away like I used to, which is definitely a good thing.
01. The Isley Brothers - Who's That Lady
02. Beastie Boys - Year And A Day
03. Led Zeppelin - Immigrant Song
04. DJ Shadow - Right Thing (Z-Trip Mix/DH Edit)
05. Justin Warfield - Live from the Opium Den (David Holmes Mix)
06. Cabaret Voltaire - Just Fascination (R. H. Kirk Mix)
07. Cabaret Voltaire - Just Fascination (12 Mix)
08. The The - Giant
09. Beck - Cellphone's Dead
10. Marvin Gaye - What's Going On (DH Mix 2)
11. Gwen Guthrie - Ain't Nothin' Goin' On But the Rent
12. Stephanie Mills - The Medicine Song
13. Herbie Hancock - Rockit
14. Malcolm McLaren - Buffalo Gals (DH Extended Mix)
15. Twin Hype - Do It to the Crowd