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, hired by Red Bull for a special "Spend 2 days with Howie B" 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.
Recorded in the summer of 2006 in Milan, Howie B returned to London to mix the album the following autumn and discovered that his creative vision was dividing into two separate pictures. "Reale" was released in Italy in December '06 but, despite its celebrated critical acclaim, Howie couldn't rub off a slight feeling of dissatisfaction...
"I knew, the whole time I recorded it, the album had gone one way. But with the parts in the album and just a little bit of extra work, I thought could make a completely different album - something really beautiful. What we'd created was really good, and it did very well for them in Italy, but it was very Italian, the lyrics especially. It was a mixture of rapping and singing. Sound-wise it's a mix of hip hop, house, dub, folk and it's quite electronic. But I had this Italian head on when I was doing it because I knew it was for the Italian market and I also knew what they wanted. So we did the album in that style and all of us were very happy about it. I was really happy with it but I told them I thought it would be great if we could take all the parts and just change them a little bit, not too much, and focus with a different hat on. They didn't know what I meant, so I asked them to give me 10 days in the studio, and said I'd deliver a completely different album, without losing the feel of it. You'd be able to hear where it's come from. So March of last year I did the second album, "Not In The Face."" Howie B