By Micky Shaked
EDM artist Sound Remedy — Anthony Howell, in real life — keeps pushing himself as he climbs the EDM ranks.
Anthony Howell — known in the EDM sphere as Sound Remedy — turns knobs, slides faders and pushes buttons in his Los Angeles studio apartment for a living. Buzzed blonde bristles and oversized white headphones bob up and down as Howell records himself previewing the newest Sound Remedy original track, “Liberation,” for his mass of fans numbering in the tens of thousands. A typical studio session, which the 24-year-old often hosts on Ustream, exposes a strong dichotomy: “Honestly, I’m just sitting there with headphones. It’s not that exciting,” Howell says. “But from my perspective I absolutely love that. That’s when I feel most alive.” That is, when the days not spent in the studio belong to a crisscrossing journey that sees him playing his music in front of thousands of EDM lovers the country over. And the trek pauses at Mayfest this Friday, April 26.
Though Howell calls himself a sophomore in the professional music business — he moved to LA in early 2012 — his sounds have been filling up EDM blogs in a flurry. Sixteen tracks have hit No. 1 on Hypem.com and his remix of Noosa’s “Walk On By” made the site’s list of the 50 most-blogged and favorited tracks of 2012 — a list that features the likes of Deadmau5, David Guetta, and Calvin Harris. His SoundCloud boasts over 24,500 followers and 3.5 million plays.
The meaning behind the stage name offers insight into Howell’s passion for music. “Sound Remedy is just the idea that sound is capable of healing people and really having a profound impact on your life,” he says. “My whole goal in music is to provide people with an escape, even a therapeutic type of music.” Howell’s reasoning behind pursuing musical cures reads like poetic justice: “It got to the point where my love for it is so strong I would have done anything. I would die for music. I know that sounds really fucking extreme, but I really fucking love it.”
Howell’s musical roots go deep — to his high school days in Evanston, Illinois. When he wasn’t swimming or playing chess, poker, or lacrosse, Howell would wander around his house recording sounds and mixing them using Audacity. It was a part-time hobby that stayed within his circle of friends, but he was passionate about it. “He did have a sort of drive about him so it’s not surprising that he’s successful at music,” says longtime friend Todd Summers. Not until he had a finance degree in hand from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business and was staring down two job offers in risk management did Howell make the gamble. He spent every day for the better part of a year concocting the first “remedies” in his parents’ garage before heading west. That his parents were professional musicians helped. “I was surrounded by music my whole life. It gave me a lot of confidence to think that I have what it takes,” he says.
The Sound Remedy brand is booming. On April 14, Howell announced via his @SoundRemedy Twitter a five-city tour of Australia in May followed by a Canadian tour in June. But success doesn’t come without its bumps, from missed flights to cancelled shows. “I’ve failed so many fucking times,” Howell admits. His manager Ziggy Chareton, a marketing strategist for Island Def Jam Music, says Howell handles it with composure. “The fact that he went to business school before pursuing this life has been a blessing in disguise,” Chareton says. “It’s taught him the work ethic, it’s taught him the rules and the financial side to make sure you stay afloat as an artist. That, to me, is something that 90 percent of artists don’t have.”
But keeping Sound Remedy afloat won’t cut it for Howell or Chareton. If Ellie Goulding tweeting about the “Hanging On (Sound Remedy Remix)” marked one of the journey’s biggest moments, it didn’t change Chareton’s approach. He has absorbed it and moved on. “I’ve always seen Tony being the guy who fills the gap between Deadmau5 and Pretty Lights, kind of blending the two,” he says. “Whereas a Pretty Lights goes more for the jam band kind of crowds of the world, Deadmau5 is just an EDM head.” Joining the Global Dance Festival lineup in Golden, Colorado headed by Baauer, Savoy, and Beats Antique represents a step in that direction.
Up to this point, Sound Remedy has been more or less a remix man, transforming popular tracks by Band of Horses, Lana Del Rey, and Mumford and Sons into his own sound. But upon returning from his first international tours, Howell plans to dive headfirst into an EP of original material to further define what he calls his own Sound Remedy genre, differentiated from others by big harmonic and melodic progressions.
Though Howell’s first six months in LA found him “poor and sad at life,” he’s found his place on stage without shedding his true persona. “Once you get up on that stage and you get to play your songs and have the crowd react, there’s nothing else in the world that compares to that,” Howell says. “It’s just such a beautiful feeling, and I’m usually kind of drunk when I play so I’m dancing around and having fun with the crowd. I’m still regular old Tony, just a lot happier than I was before.”