Danny Ward


I started studying drums seriously at the age of 14 after dabbling with trumpet and piano whilst developing a perverse obsession with jazz and latin music (which led me to start also studying congas and afro-cuban percussion). Before I'd left school I was out gigging; doing a few jazz gigs and playing in Phoenix Nights-style cabaret clubs. At the time I was also hanging out at a lot of clubs and parties, mainly checking out hip hop and soul nights as well as a few house nights and raves.

Through jazz connections I started to get some touring gigs, mainly with Manchester indie bands and subsequently I got a gig with Chapter and the Verse - a jazzy hip-hop/soul act who were signed to Virgin. I had also started to play percussion in a few clubs with djs whilst continuing to do as much jazz playing and studying as possible. I started to get work through various dance/pop producers such as Love to Infinity, Urban Cookie Collective (my initial connection with Diane Charlemagne) and Awesome 3/Dance United. Whilst still principally a jazz musician,I started to play more club nights with my friend and percussion teacher Chris Cruicks. We started to play regularly at Back to Basics in Leeds as well as at various other nights all over the country. In Manchester, where I am still based, I was doing some playing at the Hacienda and occasionally at One Tree Island, The Planet and Eardrum with, amongst others, Mr Scruff (at the time still working at Kwik Save); I was also busy doing funk and reggae gigs (hence my connection with Dubdadda).

It was around this time that I decided to try to make a statement about what was going on in club music as a studied jazz drummer. So, I started to record live breaks for release with another friend, Danny Evans - undisputed genius engineer/producer who, amongst others now works with Scruff, Fingathing, Only Child, Elbow, and Homelife. We released some loops on vinyl and cd which caught the attention of Fila Brasilia and led to a session during which Steve Cobby convinced me that I should be writing and producing my own tracks. It also led to my involvement with Rae & Christian after they used my beats on Veba's track Fool on their first album. Ralph Lawson and Carl Finlow (Random Factor) also used those beats on their Urban Farmers project. Danny Evans and I went on to painstakingly produce a sample cd of played and programmed loops, Slam on the Breaks on AMG, the proceeds from which I used to buy my first music computer and started putting together tunes.

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I started to tour with Rae & Christian - an awesome live show that included me playing drums with Veba, Q 'n' C, The Pharcyde, Kriminul, TCC, Roots Manuva, Fingathing, Supernatural and others. This led to my recording with Only Child and recording and touring with Aim, where I got to back Niko, Kate Rogers and Kwasi. It also led to my collaborating Dual Control on whose album, Left of Right, I co-wrote and produced Spring Again. I had released the Drummernauts ep on 2020 D Vision and Tea/Curtains on Grand Central during this time.

I decided that, whilst I was enjoying touring and was starting to get some great jazz gigs with artists including Jim Mullen, Gilad Atzmon, Dave o' Higgins, Byron Wallen and others, I was uncomfortable with being a 'career' musician and, although continuing to tour with the Rain Band (Universal Records) and gig most nights of the week at home, I started to work more seriously on writing and producing. Whilst finishing Reachin' Out I set up the 2020Soundsystem with Ralph Lawson and Silver City with whom I am touring, writing producing and re-mixing, alongside being Dubble D.

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