Born into a Jewish family amidst the Catholic/Protestant sectarianism of Glasgow, Bernstein attended socialist Jewish youth clubs in the city while finding a musical education in John Peel's radio shows, recording tracks from the show on a two-track tape recorder and making rudimentary mixes from them.
Later, he spent a year in Israel working on a kibbutz as part of Jewish cultural youth movement Habonim before living for a period in the United States.
Once back in the UK, he moved to a squat in Limehouse, London with a desire to work in the music industry, and after establishing himself as a DJ, eventually found a job working as a teaboy at Lillie Yard studios – owned by legendary film composer Hans Zimmer. He worked his way up there between 1984 and 1986, from teaboy to tape operator to assistant engineer to engineer. "I could see myself DJ-ing forever, but I wanted to learn a skill, I wanted to take it seriously," he said of his decision to move into the world of music production. "And so I went into apprenticeship in a studio. When I began working there I was so intimidated. I did not know what the hell I was meant to do or what any of the technical stuff meant. Because of this I had a completely different attitude to equipment, but I did learn all the technical details and procedures. Lillie Yard was a film studio, so working there was a bit crazy: one minute I'd be recording a jingle for McDonalds, the next a jingle for Danone, and then I'd be recording a 20-piece choir or a small orchestra. I'd often record and mix 40 minutes of music in one day."
His most notable work at Lillie Yard was recording Soul II Soul's seminal Club Classics Vol. One, after he befriended the group during regular visits to their legendary parties at London's Africa Centre. Following the success of this collaboration, he left Lillie Yard to go freelance.
He has worked with Björk on several projects, engineering her third studio album Post and co-writing "I Miss You", and co-produced, engineered and mixed U2's electronically focused ninth studio album Pop in 1997 alongside producer Flood after having worked on their 1995 album Passengers: Original Soundtracks 1 alongside Brian Eno. "At the beginning they were trying to find a role for me" he said of the beginning of the project. "My original title was 'DJ and Vibes'. It was a bit of a difficult title to be given, because some of the tunes didn't need that kind of input – it's not as though there's scratching and loops all over the record. And vibes... that's a really difficult word to describe, and to put your finger on. So it was a bit ad hoc at first. As we got further and further into the project, the role I was playing came out – I was co-producer, engineer, and mixer. I gave the band a direct line into club culture and freestyle DJing."
Other notable credits include producing Tricky's 'Ponderosa', performing 'noises' on Marlene Kuntz's Ricoveri Virtuali E Sexy Solitudini, producing two albums (Reale and collaborative album Not in the Face) for Italian funk rock group Casino Royale., producing and co-writing Take Your Partner by the Hand with Robbie Robertson for his own album Turn the Dark Off, producing Sly and Robbie's album Drum & Bass Strip to the Bone, producing a solo project for U2's The Edge and producing for Hal Wilner.
He has been releasing music under his own name since the early 1990s, as well as under other various monikers and as part of groups including ambient/electronica Skylab. His productions appeared on seminal electronic labels including Mo'Wax and Eye Q, while he signed to major label Polydor for a deal that spanned four full-length albums and several singles.
As a DJ, he mostly notably compiled and mixed FabricLive.05 for London nightclub Fabric's nascent label in 2002.
A new album, Down with the Dawn, was announced in late 2013 and released on 9 April 2014.
He produced a remix of the cover version of Theme from Mission: Impossible for the 1996 feature-film remake, called Mission: Impossible Theme (Mission Accomplished) performed by U2 members Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, Jr., which peaked at No. 7 in both the UK and US charts and sold over 500,000 copies.
He has produced, co-produced, composed and written a number of scores and soundtracks for full-length feature and short films alike, including The End of Violence with Ry Cooder, Dollhouse, How To Sell A Banksy, Double Xposure, Lost in Thailand, Made in China and Rabbit. He frequently collaborated with director Run Wrake, who would animate short films and music videos set to accompany Howie B's music. He also soundtracked a pornographic film directed by Jacob Pander.
His TV work includes creating music for BBC One's Imagine documentary on The Royal Ballet's principal guest artist Carlos Acosta, for a Dazed & Confused short film project Stop for a Minute and for a Dazed series on Channel 4.
His work for advertising campaigns includes creating music for Maserati, Hyundai, Range Rover, Hugo Boss and BUPA.
He also collaborated with Argentine theatre group De La Guarda on an album produced by one of their members, Gaby Kerpel, who he also mentored.
His label, Pussyfoot Records, ran from 1994 to 2002 and released over 20 albums and compilations and around 50 singles.
He set up HB Records in 2013 to release new album Down with the Dawn.Music for Babies (1996)
Turn the Dark Off (1997) – UK No. 58
Sly and Robbie drum & bass Strip to the Bone by Howie B (1999)
Another Late Night: Howie B (DJ mix album, 2001)
FabricLive.05 (DJ mix album, 2002)
Last Bingo in Paris (2004)
Mayonnaise (2004) with Crispin Hunt and Will O'Donovan
Music for Astronauts and Cosmonauts (2007)
Howie B vs Casino Royale: Not in the Face - Reale Dub Version (2008)
Good Morning Scalene (2010)
Down with the Dawn (2014)
"Angels Go Bald: Too" (1997) – UK No. 36
"Switch" (1997) – UK No. 62
"Take Your Partner By the Hand" (1998) – UK No. 74 †
† Howie B featuring Robbie Robertson from Contact from the Underworld of RedboyAngélique Kidjo – "Agolo (How's Tricks mix)"
Garbage – "Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)" (Howie B remix)
Unkle – "The Time Has Come" (Howie B vs U.N.K.L.E. remix)
Björk – "Hyperballad" (Robin Hood Riding Through The Glen mix)
Annie Lennox – "Waiting in Vain" (Howie B Sub Aqua remix)
Simply Red – "You Make Me Believe" (Howie B remix)
New Order – "Age of Consent" (Howie B remix)
Model 500 – "The Flow" (Howie B mix)
U2 – "Discothèque" (Howie B Hairy B mix)
Placebo – "Pure Morning" (Howie B remix)
Steve Reich – "Eight Lines" (Howie B remix)
Leftfield – "Dusted" (Howie B vocal remix)
Jeff Beck – "What Mama Said" (remix)
Serge Gainsbourg – "Ballade De Melody Nelson" (Howie B remix)
Ofeliadorme – "Paranoid Park" (Howie B remix)
Metric – "The Police and the Private" (Howie B Remix)
East 17 – All I Want
Tricky – Aftermath
Tricky – Ponderosa
Björk – Post
Tricky – Maxinquaye
Everything but the Girl – Flipside
Adam Clayton & Larry Mullen, Jr. – Theme from Mission: Impossible
U2 – Pop
Björk – Homogenic
The Gift – Film
Overunit Machine – Ungod EP
Casino Royale – Reale
Robbie Robertson – Contact from the Underworld of Redboy (1998)
Ofeliadorme - Secret Fires
Emmaus Mouvement – Emmaus Mouvement 50th anniversary record (1999)