Iain Howie's debut EP proves he's more than just a Bob Moses sibling

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      Childhoods are full of back-seat car fights, bloody noses, and sibling squabbles. Local producer Iain Howie, however, had a different experience. Citing his big brother as one of his leading inspirations, Howie credits his fraternal bond as the force that drove him to pick up a laptop, drop out of business school, and pursue a career in electronic music.

      But of course, when your brother is Tom Howie of internationally acclaimed duo Bob Moses, you’ve got a pretty good role model.

      “Even when we were much younger, I always admired the direction Tom was going in,” Iain Howie tells the Straight over coffee at Elysian Café. “His music’s definitely very forward-thinking, and so much smarter than most of the stuff on the radio.

      “A lot of the songs Tom wrote in the early days were the same kind of music I was making in the studio. I was creating house tracks but also doing songwriting around them. One day Tom suddenly got really good at that style, and he opened up my eyes to what great music could sound like.

      “I’ve been really lucky that I’ve been able to see both the production and performance side of the industry through Bob Moses,” Howie continues. “My brother took me out on tour recently, and we went all around the U.S.A. There were mansion parties in L.A. and late nights in hotel rooms. Yes, the vehicle was the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever been a passenger in—when the guy accelerated, you could feel it in your bed—but it was an incredible experience to see what life is like on the road.”

      Howie might be the first to cite his brother’s influence, but don’t expect the young producer’s EP to sound like a cheap Bob Moses knock-off. After refining his personal style for more than half a decade, Howie’s debut record reveals a highly-polished and very individual brand of minimal deep house.

      “When I initially got this EP signed, it was at the point where I was just getting my production to sound good,” Howie says. “The sound across the four songs is quite varied. The first track is a vocal song, and the others are instrumental. That wasn’t necessarily a deliberate choice, but it’s worked out really well that the record’s got a range of different styles. It helps set me apart.”

      Vancouver turned out to be the perfect place for Howie to finalize his EP. With the city’s underground musicians offering expertise across a range of genres, a number of producers were on hand to mentor Howie’s first release. Recognising the young artist’s obvious potential, a tight-knit community of performers offered a wealth of tips to the burgeoning songwriter.

      “One of the first things I had to learn is that making music is a mental challenge,” Howie says. “You always think it sounds good, because you wrote it. And at the same time, you think it sounds really bad.

      “I’ve been aiming to get my tracks to a professional standard—but because I’m so close to them, I find it really difficult to tell what my songs are actually like. I sent the record both to people that I really trusted, and to people I thought would tell me it sucked. I’ve been really lucky with the advice I’ve got back.”

      That loyalty is something that Howie is keen to repay. Indebted to local label Rhombus for developing his style beyond an early penchant for singer-songwriting, and greatly appreciative for the opportunities that have cemented him as a key player in the city’s DJ culture, Howie is adamant that he’s not going to flee to greener pastures when success inevitably comes knocking.

      “I want to remain a part of the house music scene here in the city,” Howie says. “It’s small but it’s great, and it’s getting bigger. Recently Vancouver has had artists that have done really well, but they’ve left the city for Chicago or Germany. I think in the future we’ll need to work on making sure people think it’s worthwhile to continue building a community here. There’s a lot of talent, and I’m hoping we can all grow together.

      “What’s the only circumstance in which I’d leave?” Howie asks himself. “I’d only go if I were to head out on tour.”

      Is he going to invite his brother?

      “I’d love to,” Howie says with a laugh. “But I think he might be busy.”

      Iain Howie’s EP “Awake” is released on Rhombus on Monday (July 11).

      Follow Kate Wilson on Twitter @KateWilsonSays.