Throw ya hands ladies and gentlemen because we got the opportunity to sit down with no one less than legend Danny Byrd! We talked about reaching the top (and staying there) and the golden ticket to success.
You were one of the first artists signed to Hospital Records, that now has become so big: Events across the whole world, how does it feel to have been there from the beginning onwards?
It kind of makes sense, because if you were there from the beginning, you saw all the steps that it took to be that. Hospitality in the park, September 23rd, had about 12.000 visitors, and I was there when Hospital did their first club night in a small nightclub in London with about 300 people and it wasn’t even full/packed. I remember when Tony (London Elektricity) told me: “We are going to start doing club nights” and I thought “that isn’t going to work”. Because you know, you had the people threw the parties and you had the record labels and record labels didn’t really throw parties. So, it makes sense if you follow all the steps but at the same time, looking at HITP it is just insane seeing how far it has come.
Do you notice that crowds in other countries have different tastes? In some countries people really dislike reloads, for example.
I don’t like too many reloads myself, but if it’s a track that’s really going down well, it creates an atmosphere. And, there is nothing worse than a whole 90 minutes of music nonstop, just constantly mixing. I like to stop things and break them down because it gives people the chance to breathe. It makes gaps in the set that make it more of a show, you know? It depends on the DJ though. DJ Hazard, he’s what you call a rolling DJ, he’ll just play loads of tunes and that’s what you want to hear, you don’t want him to stop tunes.
Do you think you are an inspiration to people?
It’s weird you know! Because I had people that inspired me when I was younger, like Roni Size and people like that and I know Roni Size personally now and it feels weird, because I want to tell him “Oh you inspired me to this” but he finds it weird as well. I am obviously very thankful but I also find it a bit odd it’s like “Me? Really?” I understand it as well looking at myself, but it’s an honour.
So, you just told us Roni Size inspired you, but who else?
Lots of people really, I am from a town called Bath, near Bristol and Roni Size and the full cycle guys, DJ Krust and there was Dynamite MC, they were like a unit and they were very inspiring because they won a prestigious award in the 90s called the Mercury Music Prize, which no-one in Drum and Bass had ever won, it put drum and bass on the main stream and I remember going to college, studying music and seeing them in the street with a camera and thinking: “WOW!”. And it gives you hope, because before that everyone in the music industry was from London, not Bristol. It showed you that if you worked hard, you could actually do it.
What are some goals you still want to achieve?
Overall you just want to make a track that works in a club, that seems easy but it’s not because it’s constantly evolving. To make new music and for it to work in your set, that is still the ultimate goal really. You never know where your career is going to go, all the things in my career have been a lot of lucky really. You can have goals but you won’t meet them the way you want to meet them. I just want to keep on making music, I still get a big buzz out of making music in my house, my small studio and it going out to the world. I love that. I don’t like the idea of having a big studio, I like the idea of being small and anyone being able to do it.
It’s like making something at home in your small studio, and playing it out loud and seeing people go crazy… it must be amazing
But on the other hand, the other side, when you work hard on your music and it doesn’t work well. That happens as well. Like when a track works in a club, there’s nothing better and it’s a really satisfying feeling. But when it doesn’t work it like “ooooh noooo…”. People don’t see that side of things. But that’s what keeps you motivated. On a small scale that is the goal, to keep making music that people do like in clubs. Because it’s not easy. It has to be a certain amount of different elements for it to work. It can’t just be a good song, it has to have good production… Lots of different things.
You’re signed to a pretty big label, do you ever feel the pressure of having to make tracks in order to stay on that label?
I know what it takes to be on that label. I know I need to work hard and release a lot of music. You can make ten tracks but maybe only two them might be keepers. Working at Hospital is a full time job, you can’t just sit around, you have to make a lot of music. If I make ten tracks, hopefully they will like one or two. And then you work forward. For working on Hospital and labels like that you need to have a different level of work ethic. You have to stay relevant because there are a lot of “hungry” people that want to do what you do. But they inspire me as well. It’s good to mix with the new producers and to see their hunger.
Talking about working on new stuff, your last album came out in 2013, are there any new tracks coming up?
Yes! I’ve almost finished a new album, it’s kind of done really. We’re just kind of working through some business stuff like sample clearances and we want to release March 2018! Also I got a new track on Hospitals’ upcoming Sick Music compilation, that’s coming out in January. I am really excited to put music out there again, looking forward to it.
We’re really excited too! And about producing, what are some of your favourite non drum and bass artists/producers?
I like a lot of the American hip hop guys, like Boy Wonder, 40, the whole Atlanta scene like Metro Boomin’ and people like that. Any producer could impress me. I just really like a lot of that American stuff because it’s so well produced, so expensive… I want to bring that to drum and bass: The way they record the vocals. Because obviously hip hop is so much bigger than drum and bass and it’s so worldwide. There is the budget to record vocals properly.
Because sometimes with drum and bass, it’s just recorded in a little studio or even a bedroom.
Which is part of the vibe as well, they can be massive tracks. But in America, everything is bigger and better you know? Hahaha.
And of course, what are some of your favourite drum and bass producers?
I like people like High Contrast, just a lot of the older and established names, they still make good tracks, like London Elektricity. They have a name for a reason. I also love the new Fred V & Grafix album. I love people like Ownglow, I love new producers. There’s a lot of new talent, the best will rise to the top, it’s whether they’ll still be around in ten years. I just like the established guys because you can rely on them. Whenever for example I get an email with: “New Sub Focus track” I just know it’s going to be good.
Although some people may say some of these artists are a bit commercialized now?
Well for example I often play that Sub Focus track, the remix with 1991 (Don’t You Feel It), and that always works in the club. So, I think he won’t lose his club edge. But I think as long as they keep the balance between the club tunes and the other stuff, it’s all alright.
What is the most important thing you have learned after all these years?
Just to work hard really, drum and bass is a full-time job. You must get up in the morning and get on with it. If you have a big track, you must make sure you have another big track coming up. I have seen producers that made a big track but just didn’t follow it up. There’s nothing better than following it up. That’s the thing I learned and that also comes back to working with Hospital: Those bigger labels, you just got to be on it.
Besides working hard, what’s some advice you’d give to new producers?
There is so much information, but I’d say, you don’t have to know all the business sides to it, because it’s complicated, but stuff like publishing is very important. Publishing is where most of your money will come from so understand that in a publishing deal you shouldn’t be getting 50/50, you should be getting 70/30 or maybe even 80/20 in your percent. Just make sure that you know what the percentages are. When you start out as a new producer you’re so excited that someone wants to work with you that you’ll just do everything. But at the same time don’t go overboard and become difficult because as a new producer you have to earn your stripes. I got ripped off at the beginning. Everyone that is new will get ripped off. Unless you just come up out of nowhere with a big track, you can’t be too demanding. Learn the publishing side of the business.
Are there people you’d still like to work with?
I’d like to work with High Contrast, I have known him for a long time and he doesn’t live too far, we should do it. I need to ask him, that’d be cool. But I would like to work with anyone, for example, if I and you were to work on a track together, you’d have some ideas that would change the track, make it different from as if I were to do it on my own. It’s nice to get feedback. I would just love to work with anybody. The more you put a block on things, the more you limit yourself.
Thanks Danny, we think we can speak for a lot of people when we say that we can’t wait for your new releases!
Follow Danny Byrd on SoundCloud here: https://soundcloud.com/dannybyrdmusic