|Josh Wink bounces back
There's no school like the old school and in techno circles, old school means Josh Wink. In fact, Josh Wink is so old school that he confesses to cooking ("Is cooking not cool?") and subscribing to National Geographic.
Beneath Wink's fuzzy perm lurks a seasoned stalwart of the techno scene who made his first record in 1989. It’s been eleven years now since Wink first blew up international dancefloors with the hi-NRG acid classic 'Higher State of Consciousness', ‘I’m Ready’ and the pure simplicity (some call it a stroke of genius) of 'Don't Laugh'. Wink has seen it all. He was a front row witness to the birth of DJ and dance culture, he rode out the rave years, he sold his label to Sony at the height of the boom years and then he bought it back. He’s pretty much just like granddad (but with more hair).
But take a closer look at the tracklist for Wink's latest Ministry of Sound Sessions compilation (packaged as ‘Profound Sounds Vol. 3’ in the US) and you’ll see he isn’t your usual stick-in-the-mud veteran. Alongside the nods to Detroit, the two CDs seems fascinated by the newest Johnny come latelys of the underground such as Mathew Jonson, Donnacha Costello, Loco Dice, Anja Schneider & Sebo K.
Josh Wink is from Philadelphia, and still lives there, which perhaps gives him a rootedness away from the glitz and the glam that allows him to focus on the music. His anchor is his label Ovum, which has released everything from soulful techno to tech house to drum'n'bass over it’s twelve year history. It’s hard to ignore the new guys when they keep slipping CDs under your doormat. So what’s Ovum all about then, Josh?
“Integrity to good music! We feel that we don’t have to follow the music that is trendy or fad-like at the moment.”
As a DJ, unlike some of the Detroit contingent who still feel compelled to whip out 'Strings of Life' or 'Amazon' at the drop of a hat, Wink is not about revisiting 1995 or trading on his legacy; he’s more intent on building bridges between the past and the present. Take for example the new set of remixes of his classic 'Higher State of Consciousness'. Shock, horror. Isn’t that like his sacred cow?
“I’m fortunate to have a handful of tracks that people associate with their past or during the development of house/techno that stood out, HSOC being one of them. I’m happy and proud of this track, along with the ones since my early ears of making music in 1989, and onward.” Can’t argue with that. But then Josh gets really excited, “We’re going to be releasing new versions in the fall. Alter Ego, Mathew Jonson, Smith & Selway and Photek. Great mixes!”
Mathew Jonson. Not exactly a name your likely to find in Derrick May’s box now is it? So how does an old school jock like Wink wind up with a young pretender like Jonson remixing his biggest hit?
“We gigged together in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and he told me a story about when he was younger and loved the track. Well, he got a bit drunk and in the car ride back to the hotel from the party, he said, I want to remix the track. I was like sure you do. And we shook on it.”
"People associate me with different things. People who know my history know that I do a mixture of electronic music compositions, minimal, house, acid and breakbeats."
These days Wink not only has the new guys wanting to remix his stuff, but he's also in bed with Richie Hawtin's uber-cool minimal mob. Take a close look at the liner notes for last year's 'MinimizeToMaximize' and you'll find Josh Winkleman, though in this case hid behind the alias Dinky Dog.
“I did a track on the first 'MinimizeToMaximize' compilation under the name Dinky Dog. So, no one would know it was me, as I’ve done before…”
So what’s that all about then? You suspect that he wanted his music to be judged on its own merits, not on its Josh Wink-ness. But for his latest new cut on ‘min2MAX’, Wink has fully emerged from his minimal closet. 'Have To Get Back' sits proudly alongside cuts from Minus artists like Gaiser, Troy Pierce, Marc Houle etc, old school be damned. To the outsider, the commonalities between Josh Wink and Minus might not seem to obvious, but like Adam Beyer, Wink has shown that making the leap to the now is not so much of a stretch.
“People associate me with different things. People who know my history know that I do a mixture of electronic music compositions, minimal, house, acid, breakbeats etc. It’s nice to be on the compilation as most of the producers featured are more of the ‘new school’.”
For all his new school affiliations, there is at least one area in which Josh Wink still remains decidedly old school. Ask Wink about any of that new-fangled DJ technology like Final Scratch and the luddite takes over. Wink speaks like a wise one who has seen and done it all.
“I was one of the first, with Richie Hawtin and John Acquaviva to use the FS system. I used it for three years, and now I haven’t used it in three years. I love the idea and the technology. But, I didn’t like the setting up at each gig. It became a pain in the ass. I like tools, like all these computer based DJing set ups. But, I feel at times a DJ using a computer gets too lost in the computer and forgets about the crowd.”
From the vinyl to CDs, from CDs to Final Scratch, and Final Scratch back to vinyl. Watch out new school, the old school is back.
Josh Wink plays Together at Turnmills on Saturday, July 29, 2006