He has collaborated with just about everyone from Bjork to U2, he has a track on the soundtrack to Scorsese’s Wolf Of Wall Street film and he has created some of the most beautifully produced collections of electronica we’ve come across for a long time.
Scottish-born Howie B has been heavily involved in the UK trip-hop and electronic music scene for the past two decades, whilst simultaneously running his own record labels and working with the film industry both at home and abroad to produce a pretty impressive list of film scores.
His newest album Down With the Dawn was released on 7th April, 2014 on HB Records (owned by the man himself) and we thought that this was just the excuse we needed to get to know him a little better…
Was there a moment, a track or gig that motivated you to get into the music business?
Seeing Santana in 1976 at the Glasgow Apollo was the moment when I said I wanted to be in music.
Who or what inspires you musically?
My children, my love life, my friends .
Who did you listen to growing up and what was the first single/album you bought?
The first single I bought was a 45 of Hong Kong Garden by Siouxse and the Banshees. Then I was listening to Led Zeppelin, James Brown, Bob Marley, Santana, and Miles Davis…
When and where was your first ever gig and did it go well?
My first gig was at a place called the Paradise in Kilburn Lane, with Jony Rockstar. It was great; we introduced Chess, Funk, House, and Trip Hop to the locals of Kilburn.
When were you last down here in Cornwall/ the South West?
I was there last April for Missy’s 40th birthday party; it was great- so beautiful.
What are your feelings on the UK music scene – particularly in your chosen genre of electronic music? Are there any changes you would like to see?
The music scene is constantly evolving, which is a great thing , yes there are shows on TV that don’t really show this, but on the whole I’m very positive about what is happening in the UK .
To date, what has been your worst DJ’ing moment?
My worst moment was when I was on stage in Warsaw in 1997 and someone threw their packed lunch at me which was wrapped in tin foil. They were upset that the main act was late coming on stage and I had to fill for them. My mistake was to throw back the sandwiches, giving the audience license to attack. And they did. I had to be protected by two roadies carrying a table as a shield from the missiles of beer and food.
Do you have any pre-stage superstitions/ routines?
Go to the toilet
Are there any particular influences or inspirations behind your new album?
Love, life and loss are what this album expresses.
What can we expect from you in 2014 – are there other musical avenues you wish to explore?
I am working on a classical project right now, and also a Chinese film. I intend to do an art installation-music piece too. It’s all moving very quickly just now, getting things started, and more importantly finished, is my priority this year.
Which gigs this year are you most excited about?
My Asian tour which I’m on now. I love being here- the people, the food, it’s so different, which makes me happy.
If you weren’t involved in music, what would you be doing?
I’d be a farmer. I think I would be good at that.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists looking for success in the music industry?
Don’t compromise, and be prepared for the long haul. If it happens quickly it will end just as fast.
You’ve worked with some incredible people, what has been the favourite part of your career so far?
Just now I love every day. The joy of walking into my studio never goes, and if it ever does I’ll start doing something else.
Which artist(s) would you most like to collaborate with?
For me new artists excite me the most, so therefore I don’t really know.
Can you recommend an artist or album that has recently impressed you, but that you think we won’t have heard of?
An Italian band called Ofeliadorme. They are beautiful and are just going to get better.
Interview by Phil Hatfield.