Artist, Label Boss
When you’re as iconic a figure as Josh Wink, it’s not so easy to sum up a career in a few words—but there are a couple of terms that might serve to get a handle on the seminal electronic-music producer’s lifework. One of the most apt, certainly, would be longevity. A brief scan of Wink’s mammoth résumé reveals the following: Early-’80s as an underage mobile DJ; a major role in fostering his native Philadelphia’s burgeoning warehouse scene during the house-music explosion later that decade; (name-making,) international underground and chart-topping club hits like “Don’t Laugh,” “Higher State of Consciousness” and “I’m Ready”; a label, Ovum Recordings, that’s undisputedly one of the most essential dance-music imprints; and his current position, after all these years, as one of the scene’s most vibrant, rick taking, creative DJs and producers (witness the critical success of his 2009 long-player When A Banana Was Just A Banana).
Another word one could use to encapsulate Wink’s oeuvre is versatility. From the twisting ground-breaking, acidic breakbeat of the afore-mentioned “Higher States” to the organ-groove deepness of 2008’s “Stay Out All Night,” and from the pulsating ambience of 1996’s “Horizontal Dancing” to the cult techno of “Meditation Will Manifest” (which got a re-release in 2016 on R&S 22 years after its debut), 2000’s sensational “How’s Your Evening So Far” and his most recent anthemic big room releases “Talking To You”, “Denial”, “Shoelaces” (on Boys Noize Records) and the musical political statement of 2017’s “Resist” — “For me, ‘Resist’ was a way to bring awareness to people about their rights, their voice, their beliefs, their thoughts. They matter.”
Receiving inspiration from all musical styles, Wink also experiments with Drum ‘n’ Bass, hip-hop (Wink was a regular at West Philly DJ battles as a teenager), and varied genre rhythms. His remix discography over 25 years includes seminal artists such as Radiohead, Moby, Sting, Depeche Mode, Radioslave and Dave Clarke, to name a few.
Wink also runs his own label, Ovum Recordings, which recently celebrated its 22nd year of existence. One of the most essential dance-music imprints, Ovum has released such varied music including some of the first releases of Loco Dice (‘Menina Brasileira’), KINK (‘Rachel EP’) and Davide Squillace (“Muteki”) EP as well as releases from DJ Dozia, David Alvarado, Steve Bug, Loco Dice, Levon Vincent, Chymera, Shlomi Aber, Sylk130, D’Julz, Harry Romero, Technasia, Tom Middleton, Ian Pooley & Spencer Parker and many more. As with Wink’s own material, releases on Ovum are timeless music pieces; not defined by trends.
Which brings us to our final term: integrity. It’s a trait that Wink possesses by the crateful, one that’s carried him through the vagaries of dance music’s endless cycles. Some who hit big when Wink did are content to live off past successes; others chase trends in an effort to stay relevant. But Wink has always been happy—determined, really, to do his own thing and follow his own path—if the music sells and the gigs keep coming, that’s great, but that’s not why he’s still in the game. “I got into this because it was something that I lived and ate and breathed,” Wink says. “There was so much passion for the music, there was nothing else for me. Whatever notoriety and success had come from this, it’s kind of a mistake, a by product, and I never planned for that. I never knew I could make a living from doing what I loved when I was a teenager; my parents thought it was a fad, actually.” And what do his parents think now over 25 years later? “Oh,” he says with a chuckle,” they love it.”