The groundbreaking Renaissance series The Mix Collection is back – and who better than the mercurial Danny Howells to take control of its return?

Danny Howells has a knack for surprising you – whether it's by wearing fashion-baiting polyester shirts, by releasing the very occasional single that begs that question: “Why doesn’t he do this more often?” or by playing seven-hour Dig Deeper sets that hop between genres with abandon. His new mix album is surprising too – surprising in the fact that it doesn’t really wander between sounds as much as some of his previous outings. In fact, his addition to Renaissance's Mix Collection canon is his most down-the-line house mix to date. It’s also one of his best.

Mixing up tracks by the likes of Apparat, Joris Voorn, Klute and OrtzRoka, it also contains a load of Danny’s own productions. He’s back in the studio with a vengeance (at last) and judging by the tracks on The Mix Collection, the results are as good as ever, providing the backbone to this deep, melodic mix. As good as they are though, you can’t help wondering if Mr Howells is finally settling for one genre. Has he put his eclectic days behind him? EQ finds out more…

What was your approach to compiling this mix?
I had no clue as to what direction to take musically. It was a case of literally going through all my music and pulling out my favourite tunes – regardless of genre – from the last two or three years. I don’t really worry too much about being super-upfront on a CD because it's something that will hopefully stay in people's collections for a while, so I think timelessness is more important than being upfront. Once I'd dug out all my favourites I realised a lot of them were in the melodic, deep house vein, so that kind of gave me the direction to go in.

How would you describe the sound of the mix?
It's house, ranging from very deep to more peak time, but the bulk is very laidback, melodic and warm. I didn't really feel a need to be super-trendy or minimal – I think there's enough of that out there – so I just used music I feel very passionate about and will hopefully still enjoy in years to come.

How did you go about selecting tracks for the mix?
The first thing I did was go into the studio, because I wanted to get some of my own productions on there. I made about 10 tracks, and from playing them out and listening to them over time I realised which ones would work best in a listening environment – they were the deeper, funkier ones. After that, as I said before, it was a case of going through my collection, finding tunes that had not really been picked up on and things that were only released on vinyl. Almost all the tracks were sourced from vinyl because despite the occasional pop, that sounds a lot better than mp3s.

So do you prefer mixing vinyl or CDs?
Both. I know in the eyes of people like Hawtin that makes me a luddite because I'm not pulling each tune to pieces, but I really believe that if a record's great it doesn't need dissecting. It's also a bit of an insult to someone's work if you're going to play their track and only use one bar of it. And I love hearing how other producers arrange their music – it gives me inspiration for when I come to arrange my own.

Does the mix reflect your music as a DJ?
Yes. I think it's also kind of a statement as to where I want to end up in the long run. I don't want to be thrashing out heavy sets when I'm 60. My long-term goal as a DJ is to break away from the big events where I'm really only able to focus on more intense music – I love deeper music as well as more experimental stuff, and that's where I'd like to reside in the future.

Was musical diversity an important concept to explore with this mix?
My diversity is a bit of a hindrance in the early stages of making a CD, as the mix could almost end up as anything – I could happily do a dubstep mix or a drum and bass mix. So at the start, I'm almost overwhelmed by choices. But in the end, the Renaissance mix isn’t diverse in the way my Choice or 24/7 albums are. It's still covering quite a broad range of house, but it's very much in the spectrum of what you could hear me play out, especially in the first few hours of a night.

This is your first mix CD for three years. How do you think it compares musically to your previous mixes?
I think it complements them well. There are actually only two of my old CDs that I ever listen to – Choice and 24/7 – but I think this one will make that list too.

What do you feel about the house scene at the moment in terms of the quality of musical output?
It's great. Obviously there's a lot of crap out there, but in among that is some of the best, most innovative and fresh-sounding music we've had in years.

What’s been your worst experience behind the decks?

Whenever you get these ridiculous Sharons who come over acting all friendly then shout: “You got anything faster?” Piss off!

Danny Howells’ The Mix Collection is out now on Renaissance. Visit

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"This mix is kind of a statement as to where I want to end up in the long run. I don't want to be thrashing out heavy sets when I'm 60"