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.
“I enjoyed listening to the music that made me want to run upstairs and lay some ideas down.” Joss Ryan explains to me how a wide variety of musical influences at a young age have helped him grow into a self-taught musician. But for the East London DJ and Producer, there was always more on the musical horizon, and his explorations through sound have given him a more refined set of influences. Jazz, Grime, and Soul have played integral roles in shaping Ryan, and it shows in his latest E.P. entitled ‘Blaze Blu’ (Relseased on DVA music).
It’s difficult to categorise the music into a genre, and for good reason. Ryan’s studies of Audio Engineering at the London School of Sound, combined with his five years of production experience have allowed him to conjure a natural ability to intertwine contrasting genres and triumph where others fail in making it sound balanced and effective. In ‘Modesty’ thick Jazz brass introduces a progressive instrumental that evolves into a melodic synth-fest, complete with shuffling piano a soaring string crescendo. Undertones of modern oriental vibe are also apparent, perhaps a throwback to Ryan’s passion for orchestral music in video games such as the Final Fantasy series.
Ryan makes no secret of his desire to develop a sound he “can call his own”, he is constantly reinventing himself to stay fresh. Noting the limitations of playing at clubs, Ryan treads through the dense wilderness of the world of music to discover instruments that he carries with him through all of his productions, gradually scultping a DNA pattern that formulates his sound. ‘Blaze Blu’s’ title track, with it’s anticipatory bellow and pulsating brass, boldly embodies Joss Ryan’s intention to not just push the boundaries, but to attempt to draw new boundaries of his own. “I think to play at a festival like outlook or dimensions is the dream right now, and to develop a ‘live show’ to perform.” Having played at Cable and clubs in the Dalston/Shoreditch area, fans of experimental electronica would be wise to listen out for this highly ambitious artist.
At a time when we’re faced with a relative deluge of electronic music – the internet awash with new beats every day – I think we shouldn’t underestimate those moments when we hear a new producer and his music draws us in. When what you’re hearing is more than a pleasant backdrop to that essay you’re struggling to write, or (more likely!) that facebook stalking you’re indulging in. When it demands attention.
Enter, Bloomer White – aka Gary Kelly – who’s dealing in a fine line of beats, breaks, and choice cuts, measured tastefully against some ambient textures and delicate keys to create absorbing electronic music that still sounds fresh after the first few listens.
Originally hailing from Lurgan, Kelly is now based in London to study Music Computing at Goldsmiths and to further hone his craft. He self-released debut EP ‘Stolen Goods’ as a free-download through Bandcamp last year. For me, standout tracks would have to include the galactic-sounding beat-propelled ‘Space Cab Engineer’, and the retro vibes of ‘Tape Deckin’, which he balances nicely with softer and more understated moments such as soundscape ‘Adaption’, and his imaginative remix of Anneka’s ‘Shut Her Down’.
More recently, Bloomer has been uploading some new material to his Soundcloud, including a couple of 30-minute mixes that are worth a few moments of your time, and certainly wouldn’t sound bad playing-out if you were planning to have a party any time in the new future!
This pioneering young producer is one to watch.
Bloomer White will be playing a set at the Gola Charity auction in aid of ‘Art Against Knives’ on 29th November. I’ll definitely be listening.