With his dark eyes, long hair and thick moustache and goatee, Virgil Howe is unmistakably the son of renowned guitarist Steve Howe (from Yes) and a child of the world of progressive rock. Immersed in his father’s world from a young age, it is only logical that he would start improvising some music notes on his Moog Synth at the age of 4. Today, after successively drumming for The Killer Meters, Little Barrie and Dirty Feel, Howe is based in London and is focusing on producing and releasing singles and mixtapes on Scenario Records – a major label in UK underground hip-hop music.
Browsing his Soundcloud, it is evident that his style has considerably changed in two years. His latest work is more mature and it seems that he is gradually defining himself in a unique musical style. His mixes are refreshingly new in a world where electro music essentially consists of adding a repetitive melody to vaguely sophisticated beats. The influence of different styles is very strong in his recent mixes, ranging from disco to electronic, through “bootyshakin” and “spacefunk”. He excels in taking songs that belong to a very specific genre of music and twisting them around to produce an entirely different sound. For example, Snoop Dogg’s, Drop It Like It’s Hot becomes Kiss It Like It’s Hot, as it is tastefully brightened up with lazy lounge beats and slow soul notes.
Virgil Howe has character and his music is reflective of that. His unusual focus on disco-funk and his massive use of unknown vocalists seem like bold moves in the ultra-competitive sphere of London music, but by giving personality to his songs certainly pays off. Ease Back Mama, Stolen Moments, Afroway: Howe is certainly successful in imposing rhythmic afro beats as his trademark and he says himself that he stands as “as spokesperson for the outer worlds”. Certainly his family background encouraged him to find a place in the world of music, but his increasing popularity can only be explained by the fact that his style is one step ahead.
“Eccentric songstress, Noosha Fox is my muse for this season” says Holly Fulton about her Spring/Summer collection 2014. And as the models walk down the catwalk to “Only You Can”, it is pretty obvious that she was successful in recreating the summer vibe from the 70s that she was looking for. If her show was to be described in a few words, it would probably be energy and fun, two words that also seem to match her personality. Her quick but smiling appearance at the end, in a gorgeous kimono dress, finally convinces – me, at least – that Holly Fulton has a bright fashion future ahead of her.
Born in Edinburgh, she studied at first at the Edinburgh College of Art before entering the Royal College of Art in London. Despite her young age, she is considered one of the most promising designers in Britain, and has already won the 2009 Swarovski Emerging Talent for Accessories, the Young Designer of the Year Award at the Scottish Fashion Awards and the Elle Style Award for new designer in 2010. Today, after creating six shows with the same enthusiasm, Fulton has successfully imposed her very unique style among the London fashion scene. Her incomparable designs have even led some to describe her as the “Scottish Roberto Cavalli”!
Watching her Spring/ Summer 2014 collection, you will be caught by reminiscing thoughts of 70s disco nights overloaded with color and dubious prints. But Fulton, unlike my twenty year-old Dad, avoids fashion faux-pas, and successfully combines the modernity and vibrancy of New York silhouettes with vintage styles. That choker necklace that our Mum hasn’t worn in public in thirty years? Looks great when stylized with great taste and a well cut bustier dress! She has managed to impose geometrical prints as her trademark and the tribal feel that she has given to her work for this season falls in with what she has done in the past. Her unusual use of accessories, from XXL jewellery to unexpected fan-bags, never fails to surprise and is certainly worth the look.
When you cite ‘Futurism’ as one of your influences you set up quite a strange weight of expectation. Thankfully Dorian Cox and the rest of Unmade craft a sound and deliver a slew of songs worthy of the citation. No doubt Marinetti would salute the grit and verve though the jury’s out on whether he was a fan of disco.
The Sheffield three-piece makes no claims of perfection; fuzzy drones and flat bass lines add to the raw sound which the vocals slice through. A brash, energetic disco-tinged vibe pulses through the bands current selection of tracks and evokes the sound of a more reticent ‘Yeah Yeah Yeahs’.
Though Karen O would salivate at the prospect of laying a vocal over a track like the sultry ‘Baby, Please Come Home’, singer Jeanie Crystal brings a savviness to the song with her subtle and stirring enunciations, setting her apart from any comparison.
Owing to the short, week-long recording session, these songs have a visceral quality which should make for a powerful live performance. Unmade Bed will be playing on the Sunday of Sheffield’s Tramlines festival at Queens Social Club. Don’t miss them!