Howie B is the Glasgow hotshot helping put U2 in touch with their danceﬂoor impulses. Rory Weller proﬁles the multi-talented DJ and producer.
ever has Newton Mearns given birth to a more prodigious son than the producer, remixer, engineer, writer and DJ Howie Bernstein, aka Howie B. The 33-year-old is the man of the moment on the music scene, fresh from acting as ‘vibes man’ for U2 on their album Pop, released next month.
Brought in by the band’s producer Flood to work on samples and keyboards, Bernstein spent twelve months working with them in their Dublin studio, inputting the sort of ideas that have seen him hailed as the Scottish beatmaster. Howie B’s influence is felt in some shape or form on every track, and he is credited as co- producing four of them. This, most deﬁnitely, is the big time.
As a teenager growing up in Glasgow‘s Southside Howie B religiously taped John Peel’s Radio One shows and mixed tapes on the family’s hi-fi. For his thirteenth birthday he was given a set of drums and his rhythm addiction began — he would spend hours in his bedroom exploring the world within the beat.
Moving to London he got a job in the Lillie Yard studio, Fulham. Surrounded by bands recording LPs and people making soundtracks, jingles and adverts, he learned the art of light speed production, watching people put together three or four tracks in one day.
His prowess in the studio and a growing reputation as a DJ led him to be involved in some of the greatest tracks of the late 803. He had a hand in Soul II Soul’s album Club Classics Volume One and worked with Nellee Hooper on Massive Attack’s Blue Lines. At this time he formed Nomad Soul, with Diane Charlemagne who later became the vocalist on Goldie’s ground breaking jungle track ‘lnner City Life’. Bjork, Tricky, Annie Lennox, Simply Red and New Order have also received the Howie treatment.
His U2 romance began when he produced Bono’s track ‘Hallelujah’ on the Leonard Cohen tribute album Tower OfSong and grew when he was brought in by the band to work on the Brian Eno-produced Passengers album, which featured, among others, Luciano Pavarotti.
Currently Bernstein is concentrating on writing and producing his own music which continues his line of fundamentally underground dance material, recording under a variety of nom de disques including Daddylonglegs, Olde Scottish and Skylab. His solo album Music For Babies released last year.
1a The List 7-20 Feb 1997
illustrates the dimensions of an eclectic musical
style involving ambient, cosmic jazz and even Latino beats. What’s more, the man also runs his own record label, ‘Pussyfoot’ for rap, ambient and dare we say it, trip hop sounds.
One of the reasons he is constantly in demand — and his material sounds so fresh — is his chosen work ethic of painting himself musically into a corner. A process of organised mistakes can get
him into a situation that he tries to find his way out of, and the solution can often be a radical new sound.
Howie B’s as yet untitled second solo album is due out in April, so we are bound to hear some great escapes from the finest vibes man around. U2 's album Pop is released on 3 March.