When people find out I work for DJ Times magazine, they often ask me: “Who’s your favorite DJ?”
My response is often: “How much time ya got?” because there’s so many good ones out there and so many new ones coming at you all the time – but eventually, I run down a few genuine favorites:
On the turntablist side, there’s QBert and the Invisbl Skratch Piklz from San Francisco, The X-Ecutioners from New York and Z-Trip from Phoenix – there are a zillion more, but those are the first ones that come to mind…. For electronic music? There’s Danny Tenaglia from New York, Mr. C from London, Laurent Garnier from Paris, Francois K from New York and also… Josh Wink from Philadelphia, the subject of our latest DJ Times Podcast.
They’re all different approaches, different music, different DJs, but all have mastered the craft and influences scores of other jocks – the ones paying attention anyway.
But getting back to Wink, he was always at the forefront of America’s electronic scene – a pioneer, really, back in the days when this music was relatively new and its culture hadn’t become the mainstream reality it is now.
Lucky for everyone, as a DJ/producer, he took his talents well beyond Philadelphia. Not only has he always been a terrific DJ who learned his craft from the bottom up, but he also created vital and lasting music that took him around the world many times. He’s played the sketchiest, generator-powered raves out in the woods, he’s played the nicest clubs in island paradises, he’s played major modern festivals.
But it was in Europe where Wink found his first big audience. In the mid/late-’90s and early ’00s, Wink racked up a string of influential productions. While they were crucial underground club tracks here in the States, several of them became actual pop-radio hits in Europe at a time when very little of that music was heard on American airwaves.
Of course, “Higher State of Consciousness” from 1995 always seems to be the track that everyone knows – it’s really one of his evergreen dancefloor tracks, like “Strings of Life” or “Plastic Dreams,” something that almost any underground DJ can drop and the place will just go nuts. It’s acid breakbeats at its finest – a tweaked-out 303 bassline veering all over the map – it’s an actual hook and it doesn’t let go. Brilliant stuff.
But there are others: “Don’t Laugh”… “I’m Ready”… “How’s Your Evening So Far”… “Superfreak”… and don’t sleep on his 2003 EP, “20 to 20,” which is loaded with seven acid-techno bombs that’ll wreck any late-night dancefloor.
There’s also a slew of remixes, including one of my all-time favorites: His gorgeous, bewildering mix of Radiohead’s “Everything In Its Right Place.”
My own connection to Josh Wink goes way back to the first several years of DJ Times. As the magazine celebrates 30 years, it’s a little wild to look back at the days he was making records for Strictly Rhythm, to the mid-’90s launch of his Ovum Recordings label, to the Womb parties he did with King Britt at Philadelphia’s long-lost Fluid nightclub. Over the years, we’ve caught him at various venues around the world: Beyond the big clubs and festivals in Philly, New York and Miami, we’ve seen him spin at Beta in Denver, at The Complex in London, at Space in Ibiza. He never disappoints. And for years, his Ovum party in Miami was one of the events where all the DJs paid their respect – whether it was a devoutly underground artist like Dubfire or a chart-topper like David Guetta. At some point in the evening, you’d see them checking out Wink’s set.
These days, life is good for the 49-year-old Josh Wink, as he picks and chooses his professional opportunities. He still keeps a busy touring schedule, balancing the intimate clubs and big festival events, like Miami’s Ultra fest, where he’s played the Carl Cox Mega Structure – a massive, airplane-hangar-sized venue.
Speaking of festivals… this weekend, he returns to Detroit’s Movement festival, one of America’s great electronic music events, which runs May 25-28 in downtown’s Hart Plaza. This Saturday, Wink will play the mainstage in a 6 p.m. slot. But also on Sunday, May 26th at El Club, Wink will helm the “25 Years of Ovum” party that will include sets from label mates Ambivalent and Manik. Expect some great, late-night action.
We were fortunate to be welcomed into Josh’s home this past summer, the night after he played a late-night event at Philly’s Warehouse on Watts venue. For the podcast, the interview has been edited, of course, for timeliness, but we still left in some of the more relevant info, mainly due to Josh’s thoughtful answers – you’ll see what I mean.
But back to Josh… he’s truly one of electronic music’s great talents, a humble, down-to-earth artist, someone you must experience in a club setting to fully appreciate his edgy, yet broad electronic sound, one that includes acid, techno, house and breaks – you know, all the good stuff.
So here we are with one of America’s great DJ/producers Josh Wink.