How We Met: Jefferson Hack & Howie B

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The Independent Culture
Jefferson Hack was born in Uruguay in 1971, the son of an English gold prospector and a Swiss trapeze artist who had met at a circus in Argentina. Jefferson moved to England at the age of nine. In 1991, while at college, he made friends with the photographer Rankin. Together they set up the black-and-white fanzine `Dazed & Confused', which is now a highly successful glossy magazine

Howie B was born in Glasgow in 1963. His mother worked in a hospital and his father sold orange blossom. After studying psychology he worked as a tea boy in a music studio. He has worked with musicians as diverse as U2, Bjork and Pavarotti. His third album, `Horses', comes out in October under his stage name, Daddylonglegs. He has a five-year-old daughter, Chili, and lives in north London

JEFFERSON HACK: The first time we met we were doing a Dazed & Confused party and Howie was booked to DJ. My first impressions were of this guy just smiling while he DJ-ed and really enjoying playing music and dancing to the tunes, which was not what I expected from the sort of ambient, ethereal downbeat music of his I'd heard. I think I expected someone quite studious and intellectual. He's very immediate and communicative and when DJ-ing he just gets the groove instantly and plays the maddest stuff.

Then he went on tour with U2 and I knew they were playing Sarajevo. I was going there to do a story for the magazine so I phoned him up and said, "Why don't we hook up over there?" It was a big event. I went up to the DJ box and it was a really emotionally charged atmosphere - a few people were crying and it was time for a bit of a hug. I'd been given a photocopied flyer by some of the kids who I'd hooked up with over the week. It said "Guest honorary DJ: Howie B", which was obviously made up. But I'd told them I'd ask Howie, which got them really excited. And Howie was like, "Yeah, no problem", and he came down to the basement of this bombed-out building, which was full of about 400 people and warm beer.

Later on I went to do a story in Cuba and Howie came with me. We went to this club in a place called the Cafe de Cultura, where they have a party every weekend for about 500 people. Howie was really excited about the idea of playing Western music to people who haven't really heard what's been going on. And the crowd went mad, either loving it or hating it. There was a group of real hardcore boys at the front just shouting "Fuck off" at us. It was mindblowing.

Howie has the attention span of a goldfish. He's always excited by something new. He's like, "Look at that, listen to this, what's that all about?" he's always turning me on to stuff, whether it's great music or illustrations or writing. I think we're really opposite but complementary. He's the good-looking one who gets all the girls and I'm the one who hangs out in the background.

We don't spend every weekend together, but we do go through very intense periods, like on those trips. I got a bit drunk after an exhibition on a trip to Japan and I think I was dancing a bit provocatively with this guy's girlfriend. I threw a punch and completely missed and I got into a bit of a sticky situation which Howie had to rescue me from. We all got into a bit of a bowing situation. I know I can always rely on him.

HOWIE B: The first time we met was at a Dazed & Confused party four or five years ago, but it wasn't until we were both in Sarajevo in 1997 that we had an evening out together, sat and chatted about things and found out what we had in common. I was DJ-ing for U2 and Jefferson was covering their Sarajevo gig for his magazine. It was a really freaky, crazy situation. There was a massive amount of joy and goodwill. I didn't know where it was coming from but if you can imagine the exact opposite of a vacuum, that's what it was. I did my set and then I was in the dressing room backstage with U2, the General of the United Nations, who was skanking beers off me, some guy from Radio 1, and Jefferson. I looked at him sitting there freaking out and knew that he was experiencing the same surreal feelings as me. Then he came up to me and said, "So you're doing a gig tonight?" and showed me a flyer with "Howie B invites you to ..." written on it, which had been put together by some kids he'd got to know. Obviously this was the first I'd heard of it, but I thought I should check it out because of the front they had to put my name on their flyers. It was in a dark old bomb shelter. Unfortunately I didn't have any records with me because they were on the way to the next stadium, but I played what they had and it was a wild night.

Jefferson has an amazing ability to get you to do things. And he's so warm and open. We did something really special together in Sarajevo. I don't mean it was special because we were there - just that we were there to witness it all happening.

Having been on this adventure in Sarajevo, we decided to go to Cuba. We had a mad time there, ranging from me trying to fix people's computers to the two of us being told to fuck off by the hardest-ever Cubans while I was DJ-ing at an open-air club. Jefferson was at my side panicking and trying to find records for me to play and then all of a sudden I get a tap on the shoulder from this 45-year-old woman and it's the Minister of Culture who's thanking me for coming to Cuba to play music. It was a wild but magic experience and a complete bonding session for me and Jefferson. There was one point when we were in his hotel room drinking Cuba Libres at five in the morning and we were desperate to hear some music but there was no radio or anything in the hotel. So we sat there sharing a Walkman with one earphone each, listening to The Doors. It was a gorgeous moment.

Jefferson has his bad points. He likes showing his underwear to people. He's got a pair of pants with a picture of Jean-Claude Van Damme on them - I don't know where he could have got them from - and there have been some embarrassing moments when he's dropped his trousers. And he can be a bit of a fighter - I've had to get him out of a few fight situations. But he is the most reliable friend I have. I don't think we're particularly similar. Our background and history is completely different. Even our language is different - he communicates with words whereas I communicate with sounds. But our intentions are similar. I know the power that just one person has, so long as that person does things rather than just talking about doing them. And that's something that Jefferson and I both share. Wanting to make a difference. It's fine to make music or to write a magazine, but the more you do, the more you realise how much more you're capable of.