Josh Wink performs at the first-ever Time Warp US Festival (Photo by Jeff Thibodeau Photography)
Josh Wink doesn’t feel the need to have a photographer on stage with him to capture that standard DJ shot, with his hands in the air. He doesn’t care how hard you fist pump at his show (or “pogo” as he tends to say in European interviews because the phrase has sexual connotations overseas – you do the math). And call him old-fashioned, but he refuses to flood his Instagram with selfies. “I just don’t see how a picture of me sitting at an airport is interesting,” the house DJ and producer says. “I’m probably over thinking it.”
When Wink isn’t contemplating the self-important implications that come along with using social media, he’s playing sold-out clubs in Ibiza, signing artists to his electronic music label, Ovum Recordings, and spending time at home in Philadelphia with his 3-year-old son. Becoming a parent hasn’t taken the electronic legend off the road, but it has made going out on dates with his long-time girlfriend a bit more difficult. “We just went to our second movie since our son was born, and I guess that’s just part of our life as being 40-year-old parents,” Wink says. However, a recent trip to the cinema became a much more introspective experience than the musician had anticipated.
Wink saw Birdman before Thanksgiving, a movie about a Blockbuster actor who goes to New York to find himself, and create art with integrity. “There’s a moment in the movie when a character says, ‘You’re not an artist; You’re a celebrity’ and that smacked me across the face,” Wink says. “So much of my world, and the people I’m surrounded by, worry about being celebrities first and artists second.” Wink could not be more opposite in his approach to music; Wink is a true artist.
For nearly three decades, Wink has pushed the EDM envelope, encouraging people to reconsider their perception of techno and house music. Starting as an apprentice at Captain Jack’s Mobile DJ Company at age 13, and exploding in the underground rave scene in his later teenage years, Wink has seen the landscape change and embrace new styles, but he has always remained a true pioneer in his subgenres. Wink is the originator of “mistake theory”, a system he created by building stylized beats out of rhythms that the average artist may have coined as producer errors. This formula for creating music has not only earned Wink a place in the hearts of techno and house lovers across the world, but it has also given Wink an elusive quality that upholds the intellect of his music. When he performs live, he’s less concerned about making the room go wild and more interested in sharing the base artistry in his tracks. “I try to entertain with the concertgoer in mind, but I also like to get lost in my own artistic interpretation of how I’m feeling,” Wink says. “I think it takes more courage and artistic integrity to do that, rather than just play out the big room records.”
(Photo by Jeff Thibodeau Photography)
While some of his tracks from the early 90s found widespread popularity, and the overall success of Left Above the Clouds which featured the acid breaks single Higher State of Consciousness put Wink on the map as a big name producer, today this DJ’s focus is on the quality of the music he creates over the quantity of commercial hits. He laughed when I told him about an episode of SPACED, a popular British sitcom from the 90s, during which his name is referenced directly by a character known for being a perpetually intoxicated raver. “That happened a long time ago when that style of music was just starting to become massively huge,” Wink says. “A couple of my songs crossed over to a new clientele and different people who hadn’t known about it; it opened a lot of doors for me, and it closed a lot of doors for me, but it did help me realize that I got into music for a certain reason.”
He and co-founder King Britt share that sensibility today with new artists they sign to their Ovum Recordings label, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. “There are people who are both established and who have never recorded a record before who send us demos because they want to be a part of the Ovum family,” Wink says. “I tell our artists that I think their music is amazing, and while it may not be the biggest seller, or get the most hype, I think it will do a lot for them because people know that our label releases music that is full of integrity and stands the test of time.” Artists like Dutch Producer Darko Esser, New York Producer/Singer/Songwriter/DJ M A N I K and Rulers of the Deep, an award-winning Baltic electronic duo, are just a few of the artists who have released records under the namesake over the years.
2014 has been full of celebrations for the label and Wink, who had appearances at major inaugural events like the first ever US installments of Mysteryland and Time Warp. He also saw great success in Europe this summer with his booming techno track, Talking to You. Despite the excitement, Wink says he’s ready to spend more time at home next year. “I’m making a choice to not travel as much and stay put and be creative in the studio,” Wink says. And while it’s still up in the air as to whether he’ll focus on releasing singles or putting his time into a new LP, one thing is for certain: Josh Wink won’t be posting any selfies during the recording process.