Every song is an emotion for trip hop pioneer Howie B

Howie B / Howard Bernstein

Howie B / Howard Bernstein - Credit: Archant

The producer and DJ talks to Alex Bellotti ahead of his show at Shoreditch’s Rich Mix Centre.

He may be best known as a pioneering trip hop producer who’s worked with superstars such as Bjork, U2, Brian Eno and Tricky, but for his upcoming show at Shoreditch’s Rich Mix centre, Howard Bernstein – aka. Howie B – is returning to his DJ roots.

Next Thursday, the pioneering Glaswegian will play a completely improvised “dub techno” set at the head of a lineup that also includes Addictive TV and Kizzy Crawford.

Even after 25 years in the business, the 51 year old admits the show will be a difficult feat to pull off.

“It is very ambitious actually,” he says. “I’m taking with me a set of loops and basslines, and I’m preparing things beforehand, but how I string them together on the evening is another matter.”

Having released his latest solo album, Down with the Dawn, last year, Bernstein admits that he usually prioritises producing over DJing.

While he has remixed records for everyone from Steve Reich to Annie Lennox however, his actual production work has been limited to a more select crowd. So how does he choose who to work with?

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“I look first of all for sociability and something different. I’m not looking for a particular style of music – I just look for someone I get on with in the studio because working in a studio is actually quite an intense thing. Getting in there and spending two weeks, three months, even a year with a person – you’ve got to get on.”

When it comes to producing his own work, Bernstein pours any emotions he is feeling into a song. Whether it is on record or a live improvisation, this is perhaps what most clearly defines his genre-spanning career.

“Each song is a diary – it’s an emotion or a collection of emotions that were happening to me the particular day or week that I made that song.

“Sometimes it helps me, especially if I’m not feeling in a good emotional place. If I express that musically, it comes out of me and it becomes something beautiful all of a sudden. That is quite interesting for me.”

Howie B plays Rich Mix on Thursday February 26. Visit richmix.org.uk