Cakes, wine and 80s Prince t-shirts. Globe-trotting selector Danny Howells takes on the quick-fire Q&A.
There’s not many alternatives really are there?
If you weren’t making music what would you be doing?
I don’t make much music these days but if I wasn’t DJing then I’d still be working as a psychiatric nurse.
What inspires you?
Nice sunny day, fresh air, being outdoors. Feeling healthy inspires me, and it took me 40 years to realise that!
Best club experience?
Two weeks ago in Cordoba at a big outdoor event. I usually dislike large events but this one was just magical. Especially when the sun came up after a long, cold night, and you could see the location of the party properly. This ancient, decaying old factory collapsing around us. It was incredible.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
Working for a magazine that sold stairlifts for old people. It was utterly vile. I was there for about six weeks. Leaving there to work in a mental hospital was the best thing I ever did.
How do you know when a track’s finished?
You don’t. There’s a lot of discipline involved and you have to know that there becomes a stage when you are no longer improving the track, but instead you are taking the life and soul out of it. A few rough edges are good – don’t polish them away.
When did you realise you could give up your day job?
When I did the Nubreed CD for Global Underground. I knew I had to give up the day job in order to tour and promote the CD. I couldn’t afford to leave, though, so I went back soon after. That was quite embarrassing…
Which song do you wish you wrote?
Something like ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ or another classic like that. A beautiful song, guaranteed to be on the radio for the rest of time. Nice pension – result!
What’s the easiest way to make it in the music industry?
God knows. It’s not about the finding the easiest way in. It’s about doing and making something that you are proud of, something that’s hopefully unique. And if there’s any justice in the world, people will pick up on it eventually.
What’s the worst track you’ve ever released?
There is one which I should have never released. It’s awful. People ask me to play it sometimes and I don’t even have a copy any more. But it came out, I can’t change that, so I’ve got to forget about it!
The easiest way to make it in the music industry? It's not about the finding the easiest way in. It's about doing and making something that you are proud of.
Recommend us a film.
Gimme Shelter. Such a dark and sad snapshot of the late 60s. Essential, even if you’re not a Stones fan (it’s even better if you are a Stones fan, though – which everyone should be).
Recommend us a book.
I haven’t read much recently but I tend to read only music books: biographies and autobiographies. Brian Wilson’s autobiography had me in tears – such a sad and beautiful read. I loved Miles Davis’s too. That Neil Young book, Shakey, was also superb.
What are you addicted to?
Exploring London. I’m out every day enjoying London on foot. I barely drive these days.
What do you lust over?
I’ve been dieting recently as I got overweight a while back and didn’t like it. So now I lust over chocolate and cakes. When I see cakes in a shop I go a bit weak at the knees. But I want to be able to wear my vintage Prince t-shirts from the 80s, so I’ve got to deal with it!
What is your greatest regret?
I don’t have any. There’s no point really.
What one thing would most improve your life?
Well, I quit cigarettes and meat so I suppose quitting wine would be a good next step. But then I think we all need one vice in our lives.
When I see cakes in a shop I go a bit weak at the knees. But I want to be able to wear my vintage Prince t-shirts from the 80s, so I've got to deal with it.
What’s the worst gig you’ve ever played?
God, there’s been a few major clunkers. Maybe when I had to follow David Guetta at Creamfields a few years back. He’s a lovely guy but I have no clue why they put me on after him. Ridiculous.
Collaboration: rich creative experience or pain in the ass?
It’s a very rich experience, but only with the right person. Going into a collab because you think it makes commercial sense is probably going to be a disaster. Working with someone who inspires you and vice versa, when you learn things from each other and where you’re not scared of trying things and making mistakes, then that’s very healthy.
Art or money?
Art. With a little bit of money too.
Strangest place you ever wrote a track?
Heathrow car park after being evacuated due to a bomb scare or something. That was quite fun actually!
Probably Motown. Such a fascinating story behind the label, the studio, the artists, the house band, the writers, Berry Gordy (of course), and the backdrop of 50s/60s Detroit and how it all came together and changed music forever.
What’s the worst thing about making music?
When you forget how to make music!