Josh Wink Releases New EP
The Philadelphia-based producer will also curate a stage at Tomorrowland festival this July
Three years ago, during the annual Amsterdam Dance Event, Jalebee Cartel’s Arjun Vagale and Ash Roy, and I made sure we were at Club Air, even though there were at least six otherÂ parties happening across town. The reason being renowned American DJ and producer, Josh Wink was playing at 4 am. Wink’s acidic “Higher State of Consciousness”, arguably one of his best-known singles, released back in 1995, had a fearless quality, as did the textured, tripped-out simplicity of “Don’t Laugh”, which followed soon after. Each can be found in Roy and Vagale’s vinyl collections. Even almost two decades later, his new EP, Balls, is testament to the fact that Wink continues to rule playlists of both DJs and electronicaÂ lovers across the world.
Released after a four-year hiatus, the new record, Balls, has three versions of the same piece. The title track is a 10-minute odyssey that has an essential Wink quality: it has tension, and high-pitched, taut, acid scrawls undulating organically towards a massive, impudent breakdown. Balls takes cojones to play, and it certainly must have taken cojones to create because it really doesn’t sound like anything that’s emanating from speakers, anywhere.
But then, Wink’s music has never fit neatly into a genre. The producer chats with us from his hometown, Philadelphia, over Skype, “I was always the weird guy in between genres. I was friends with the New York house people like Masters At Work, Roger Sanchez or Todd Terry and they would play my music. But at the same time, I was also in with Jeff Mills, Richie Hawtin and Sven Vath, and they would play the same songs,” he laughs. “In the house world, I was the techno guy and in the techno world, I was kind of like the house guy.”
His last album, When A Banana Was Just A Banana, released in 2009, settled in masterfully somewhere between house, techno and acid. Post 2009, barring some remixes, there’s been some quiet on the production front. His label, Ovum Recordings, has been releasing music steadily, but for him, the last couple of years have been about making space for music by balancing out life with unrelenting travel. Josh describes it as, “a mixture of just getting lost being a travelling DJ and the process of becoming a father.” Life on the road in the electronica sphere can be endless, and “When you’re a DJ, as long as your name is a desirable commodity, you’ll be able to go whenever you want. It’s a very easy trap. A lot of people get lost in this routine of just being a touring DJ.”Â
With geographical constraints, the travel time gets even more exhaustive. “I still live in Philadelphia. For a gig on the weekend, I have to leave America on Thursday and get back on Sunday. It’s very difficult to come home and have only three days to balance out my life.” So, Wink decided to make a conscious effort to be in his studio during the winter to produce his latest EP.
The finished product surprised him. “I expected to do something more soulful and deeper. Maybe the angst of not being in the studio for so long and the frustration of it made this come out.” he says. Wink tested Balls out in late December last year at the opening of Space in Brazil, along with Carl Cox, Mark Knight, Nic Fanciulli and Robert Dietz, to name a few colleagues also playing at the main party. Adds Wink, “It doesn’t really sound too much like what’s going on right now musically, but it’s Â music I believe in.”
This year will also mark the release of several other techno and house albums on Ovum Recordings and Ovum parties through 2013. Tomorrowland, held in July in Boom, Belgium, (Ovum has had stages there for a couple of years) will also see Wink curate a Profound Sounds stage at the festival, named after his popular radio show which is simulcast over Europe and America. The mixes are all available on his website, so each show goes global. He reveals, “We’re keeping it cool and young and hip, but also credible. We’ll have Marcel Dettmann (German techno producer and DJ) and these new guys from Italy called Tale Of Us (techno duo), who we wanted to play live, but they will be playing a DJ set. There will be two Ovum artists, Alix Alvarez (deep house) and MANIK (deep house), and then myself and Davide Squillace (techno). For me, a big motto is quality over quantity, so this is a good quality line-up that’s not too hype.” With Wink, the hype always follows.Â
Listen to Wink here