'The Perfect Musical Gut Punch!'
Howie B is arguably one of the most important and prodigious producers in the development of UK electronica, consistently unleashing his staggeringly beautiful creations with a pervasive and profound humbleness that his admirers treasure.
Working with artists as far-reaching as Bjork, Tricky, U2, Brian Eno, Sinead O'Connor and Goldie, to name but a very few, Howie's vast career has made twists and turns down some of the most unexpected, interesting paths. Most recently - between musical collaborations; creating his second fashion brand, Howaii (after 5 years of being Creative Director for Hvana); and working with doART Gallery on music-art exhibitions - Howie B has been teaming up with one of Italy's best kept secrets, Casino Royale.
In the midst of a U2 tour in 1997, Howie B met the massively popular 5-piece Italian band that he'd heard so many good things about in their home country. A powerful and wondrously talented music ensemble, Casino Royale had been supporting U2 on an Italian tour for which Howie was on production duties.
Instantly drawn to their unique sound – somewhere between ska and funk, with elements of drum n bass - and their striking visual style, Howie left Italy feeling intrigued. Four years later in a studio session in Milan, two members of Casino Royale turned up as a surprise - and it seemed the chemistry between the three of them was perfectly balanced.
But it wasn't until two years ago that Howie was approached for production duties on their artist album, 'Reale,’ a release which celebrated 20 years of the band’s vast career.
‘Not In The Face’ is a stunning re-imagining of Casino Royale’s sound, bridging rock and ska with sweeping electronics and diving deep into the swallowing, enveloping bass of dub. Subtle and intriguing, Howie has created a broad, picturesque soundscape in which details become more evident and delightful with each listen. Steering wild lyrics and psychedelic guitars towards an electric spectrum, the album shines with quiet brilliance - truly a gift to headphones.
Chatting recently with Howie B we first wondered what his musical influences growing up had been and how many still factor in his music today? Howie B. "Major influences from James Brown, Santana, Gong, Gentle Giant, Thin Lizzy, Sham 69, Sly and Robbie, The Band all still figure in my musical make-up daily."
For the Average Joe who may not have heard of you and was thinking of buying your CD, how would you yourself describe your sound? "The sound on this album is electric dub."
Your album title 'Not In The Face' is an interesting choice, but perhaps it originates from a more personal standpoint for you? "It comes from street fighting when you make a gentle request to the bastard about to punch you and you ask him / her ' Not In The Face'."
Also, please reveal to us why you chose to re-imagine Casino Royale's 'Reale' album in the first place? "It had another life I felt and so I asked the band if they would not mind if I remixed it with another hat on."
Indeed, how easy (or hard) is it to constantly create a new, vibrant, wanted-by-the-public sound that both builds on and surpasses the musical wonderment's/accomplishments that preceded it within the industry? "It is a constant challenge to turn my self on and not to repeat myself. And if I turn myself on (me being a normal person) then I turn you on (you being a normal person) that's it."
Please tell us more about a couple of your fav tracks from this new CD and why? "I like all the tracks on this album that's why they are there they all have their purpose and own identity and are essential for the whole album to work as a body of work so therefore they are all my favourite."
Were there any points during its creation that created musical 'speed bumps' for you - and if so how did you overcome them? "Yes I hit a few walls during the mixing but I just kicked my way out shouting very loud!"
If asked to for a charity CD, what '80s (and possibly cheesy!) pop/rock song would you love to cover today ... and why?! "I would do that tune 'Kids in America' in dub tech style and I'd do it because of hair envy!"
Lastly, and throwing in a comedic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine love Penguins ... do you?! "I love their style and their sporting activities!"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
Howie and Casino Royale - "Royale Sound" Steaming Audio
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED by Howie B. CD, just answer this easy question: In 1991 Howie left Italy because he was hired by which company for a special "Spend 2 days with Howie B" studio session in Milan, Italy?!
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win an AUTGRAPHED CD. Just send us an e:mail here before December 1st with your answer and the subject title HOWIE B SIGNED CDS to:
Back To Archives