No Breath For The Wicked.
Danny Howells plays Two Tribes at the Doug Jennings Park, Main Beach on March 12
Mid-way through packing for his tour of Australia with Two Tribes, deeply progressive DJ Danny Howells took some time out to talk future funk.
Your productions as Science Department, like the BT remix or the single Breathe, have got that really deep element, that kinda cerebral feel, that's not even necessarily aimed straight at the dancefloor...
"Yeah, sometimes when I've been doing tracks, then going out and doing my gigs, I find I can't play my own stuff, 'cos a lot of what I've done has been geared toward longer sets...even the Breathe single, I think I've played the Lexicon Avenue mix a bit more (than the original Howells mix), actually. So yeah, I'd agree with that. It's not a conscious thing, I just go in and let nature take its course, to a certain extent.”
“I think we've just done our most floor-filling track yet, Knowing, which is discoey so it's more of a clubby, peaktime thing. The last year, the studio's been kinda pushed aside a bit, I've just been doing mix albums and travelling all the time, but we've got another track coming out on (Deep Dish's label) Yoshitoshi quite soon - it's called Kinkyfunk - they've promoed it so that'll be out soon. We just finished a new single as well, which I'm reeeeally pleased with - it's called Dust 'Til Dawn - it's really discoey with really old school house vibes to it, but when that comes out all depends on which record company it goes to, blah blah blah."
Sounds like you're making some damn funky stuff. I interviewed Paul Van Dyk recently, and he was saying most of the deep progressive stuff out there - that Digweed, Tenaglia style - has lost it's funk...
"Well, someone like him, I don't mind slagging-off publicly. He's somebody who's deluded himself. In terms of the stuff he plays, I think some people have the opinion of themselves that they're underground still, when they left the underground behind years and years ago, so something like that is water off a duck's back, really."
What do you make of your status as the current 'it boy' of the progressive nu-breed, and the fact you seemed to become 'flavour of the month' almost overnight?
"I don't think it's been that rapid, it took a very long time to get to this level. It's ten years now since I started playing - it was very slow, and it's still never been so rapid that it's difficult to catch your breath. It's been a nice rate, I've appreciated the fact it's taken a long time, 'cos it's been easier to deal with the extra pressure on your time, the sleepless nights, the whole thing... If (your success) is gradual, it helps you deal with all that. I never felt or dreamt I'd be at this level I'm at now - I'm still very grateful for every day I'm doing it, really, because I never dreamt I could make a living out of something I love passionately. To be doing that is quite insane, I find."
Rewarding, though, I'm sure... As you said, you've done loads of DJ mix albums - do you find that's a good way of exposing your sound internationally, and from then, travelling to the countries where they've picked up on your vibe?
"They help out so much, all over the place really. I've done quite a lot, I think, so this year I'm just gonna do one instead of the usual two or whatever. But it's great - you go to places like Australia, or I went to Istanbul last week, places like Russia, where I've not been before, but people know you, and it's mainly because of that. You find that once you do a mix album it's on the internet probably two months before it comes out, but in a sense that's still promoting you, people who are downloading it are still getting an idea what you do, so in that sense it's brilliant. I try to make it like a souvenir, I always make a point of putting on a lot of tracks I'm playing out regularly, so they sort of become a snapshot of a particular point. You look back on a CD and remember gigs you were doing at the time, they represent a part of your life. Hopefully when I'm sixty years old I'll play them to my grandchildren, and they'll be into it."
Or it could be like, 'get that dodgy old prog off now, grandpa!'
"(Laughs) Yeah 'can't you put something decent on? You old prog head!' Progressive grandpa?!"
If you can still hear, that is...
"Yeah, well the way it's going, I probably won't!"