Josh Wink talks quality control, college radio and what makes Movement magical
I was honored to chat for a few minutes with legendary Philadephia-based techno don Josh Wink ahead of his performance at Movement on Sunday. This weekend is the beginning of what will be a busy summer for Wink, filled with gigs at some of the best festivals across the world. A new father, Josh doesn’t tour as heavily as he used to, like when he was a pioneering figure in the American rave scene in the 90s, releasing chart-topping anthems such as “Higher State of Consciousness” on Strictly Rhythm before going on to start his own taste-making label, Ovum Recordings. During our chat and in a serendipitous twist, Josh revealed to me that he used to have a show on WKDU, the radio station I currently DJ at, and rattled the station phone number off from the top of his head.
CB: I had no clue you had a show on WKDU!
JW: Yes, I had a show with David Orr back in the early 90s called Rave FM. When I was dialing your phone number, the station’s phone number came back to me like an old song. Is it still 895-5917?
CB: Yes it is! Probably not that much has changed at the station since you were there [laughs]. So you’re starting the festival circuit off now?
JW: Yes I am. I have a different mindset with traveling now that I’m a Dad – I don’t hit it as hard as I used to, but I guess it all kind of starts out this weekend. Friday I’m doing Mysteryland, then I turned down a gig in Florida on Saturday just so I could go home and re-group before heading out to Detroit to play Movement on Sunday. Monday, I’ll be back in Philly doing a little block party with all my neighbors. It’s open format and I’ll set up the CD players, but I usually don’t get on and play very much. I’m not going the Diplo route.
CB: What’s been your experience playing Movement?
JW: It’s nice, it’s one of the only festivals left that still has quality control. I don’t want to be high and mighty and act like my word is against other people’s subjective art beliefs, but it’s not really big EDM acts on this lineup. The lineups are anti-corporate music – the big names in the electronic underground scene are presented here and these guys have been friends of mine for a long time. Most people that go to Movement tend to have a little bit more understanding, grasp, and desire to go deeper into electronic music beyond like a David Guetta or something. I don’t play every year because they don’t usually allow it, but I try to go every other year. I think this is my 5th time playing and maybe my 4th time on the main stage.
CB: Do you have any idea where you’re going to take your set?
JW: I don’t know! For me, that’s the beauty of DJIng. It’s spontaneous and kind of limitless because of the amount of music I have on my hard drive. They’ve put me on the main stage earlier than I would normally play, so it will give me an opportunity to do something a little more creative and artistic. At the same time, people expect me to do a certain thing, so I’ll try to entertain, educate, and provide an atmosphere for people during the day without feeling like I need to play bangers.
CB: Detroit has so much history – can you talk about that from your perspective?
JW: I have a greater history with Detroit than most people know. Even though I was born in Philly, my Mom is from Minnesota and my Dad is from upstate Michigan, so I used to go to Detroit every Thanksgiving to be with relatives. I’ve become friends with and known people in Detroit since the inception of this kind of sound, meeting people like Richie Hawtin, Carl Craig, and everybody in the early 90s. It’s been a really fun time getting to see how it’s all blossomed.
CB: What are some of the tracks or artists that really define the Detroit sound for you?
JW: A couple of years ago at Movement I played the song “Clear” by Juan Atkins / Cybotron, which was a defining record for a lot of different scenes – from electronic music to hip-hop to electro. It was made so long ago in the mid-80s and it was just so influential for people like Afrika Bambaataa and even the Miami bass scene. “Big Fun” by Inner City is another great one from one of the originators, Kevin Saunderson. Tracks by Robert Hood, Carl Craig, and Derrick May also come to mind. A lot of really incredible talent comes out of Detroit, both known and not known. I implore people to go out and do some research digging into the history of techno in America.
CB: This is obviously not your first festival rodeo. What are your pro tips for Movement attendees and festival-goers?
JW: I can speak on behalf of someone who needs sleep or I can speak on behalf of someone that just wants to go and enjoy themselves. I’m always a firm believer in treating yourself as best as you can. So stay hydrated make sure you get some good food and sleep, but at the same time go out and have fun. There are great night parties also, really raw things happen after the festival closes at 12. And be safe because the city is kind of hard!
There you have it – advice and a little history lesson from one of the true techno legends out there, Josh Wink. Be sure to catch his set Sunday at 6pm on the Movement stage, along with the other amazing acts playing in “The D” this weekend!