When an album is not just thrown together: Josh Wink interview.

Words by: smac
Posted: 5/3/09 15:31

Josh WinkJosh Wink is not a disposable DJ. He's not churning out productions on a weekly basis and littering labels with remixes and collaborations. In the current climate of randomly hurling reems of releases  at the schedule wall in the hope that something will stick, a Wink release is a rare treasured occasion, and is marked that way in the endearingly old-fashioned route of press interviews, promo activities and a mini tour. People actually notice when Wink releases a record.

And well they should. More of a collection than an artist album, 'When A Banana Was Just A Banana' is compiled of tracks that Wink has been playing out in his sets, fiddling with in his studio and just never got around to releasing yet. It might sound like a bit of a cop out, but what it plays like is exactly what you'd expect from a Josh Wink set, made entirely by himself, and it even comes in a mixed format to be listened to that way.

The opener 'Airplane Electronique' is a intense slice of classic Wink, and the album continues the vibe with some serious 303 action through the next two tracks. For all the hype surrounding the diversity of this album, there is surprisingly little straying from the standard Wink sound, fortunately that's still an exceptionally high standard in the first place so the album suffers not. 'Jus Right' does slip into something more mellow and melodic, and 'Dolphin Smack' is nothing short of trippy; when the name refers to the the noise that said beast might make whilst under the influence of said narcotic what else would one expect? But overall it's familiar territory for anyone who has been to an Ovum party or listened to a Josh Wink set. What is surprising that so many of the tracks are so damn good, most of them could have been put out on their own, and no doubt will be appearing that way in the near future. The closer, 'Stay Out All Night' blends smoothly into the moody acid of Hypnoslave like an old friend appearing through a smoky dance floor, and neatly demonstrates how high quality isn't always compatible with a prolific quantity. Now if only the rest of the electronic world would take note of that....

We grabbed a few words with Josh Wink....

So 'When A Banana Was Just A Banana' refers to listening, or hearing music without classification and escaping from all the definitions of genre that we increasing put on electronic music, how easy is it for a DJ to step outside those boundaries nowadays?
"I would hope a DJ of all people are open minded about diverse music. I mean, we get subjected to so many kinds/ forms of music - who else would be open? The question really is, are DJ's willing to step outside the boundaries. Maybe as a simple listener they might, but when it comes to DJ-ing, I feel that DJs like to stick with what they know or what they're known for when DJing music. So, most stick to what is comfortable. But, it would be nice if this changes..."

"I play a lot of older tracks, and people usually come up and ask if it's new. I laugh, as good music transcends time..."

You've described the album as a 'compilation of tracks I've never released'. How does that differ from your previous artist albums?
"Other LP's have been tracks I thought would fit an LP. Where not all tracks are 'hits' just cool music that I could hear listening to on an LP, not necessarily for DJing, but for lounging, chilling and hearing away from a club like setting."

'Stay Out All Night' received great support last year and is probably one of the most distinctive tracks on the album. After having success with such definitive records as 'Higher State..', 'I am Ready' or 'Superfreak' do you feel a pressure to make every release a stand out one?
"For me I've never set out to make a song that is bigger or greater than the last. Just make music and have the DJ's support the tunes. It's always worked that way. My songs have always been underground in nature, and DJ's have made them popular. So for me, it's been great to keep my integrity and make music I feel happy with, not making music that I feel people want or expect me to make."

What are the highlights on the album for you? Do you have another release lined up for Miami this year?
"I'm torn between the tracks on the LP. They're all my favourites. One day I like "Jus right" the most, next day it's "Dolphin Smack". It always seems to change and it's the same with others it seems too! Which is great!"

There's so many new producers and new labels springing up all the time and such a lot of new music, as a label boss and DJ how do you make sure that your music gets noticed still amongst it all?
"I feel that Ovum has become a trusted name in the electronic music scene over the past 15 years, where DJs always check out our releases. We're very proud and happy of our roster and diverse musical selection when it comes to A&R. We want to release an artist when the song is good! Not because it's trendy. It's more difficult for sales, but people know Ovum has a unique range of musical signings and take the time to listen to our releases- Knowing that it may be deep house, tech house, techno or minimal."

You recently had an Essential Mix on Radio 1, which is a kind of DJ rite of passage generally, surely they've asked you to do one before now? How did it finally come about?
"Yes, I've been asked to do one before, and I've done two Live recordings at clubs over the years. Yet, this has been the 1st that I thought out and completed in my studio in Philly. We decided to do an Essential mix as promotion for the new LP. Great timing. And I was happy to be able to do the mix, and it turns out that it has become a favourite of the series by staff and listeners! Which is awesome!"

"I do believe that consumers of music are getting spoiled with expecting free music all the time. I don't go into a restaurant and expect free food."

You made some interesting comments a few years ago about illegal downloads and people being able to get DJ sets online and possibly not going so much because of that. As a DJ and a label owner how do you feel about the growing podcast situation? Are they a good thing? Or damaging to the music business itself?
"I think they can be a great tool. But, I still have only really done one Podcast. I still feel that CDs are a great thing. Something tangible, something that people can hold, collect appreciate in a material way. Not something that gets lost on a hard drive. I still like people to be able to support the artists and pay for music. I do believe that consumers of music are getting spoiled with expecting free music all the time. I don't go into a restaurant and expect free food. Or go into a electronic shop and expect them to give me free cameras or stereo equipment. So, why should music be any different?"

When A Banana Was Just A BananaMuch has been made of your longevity in the music business, yet shouldn't this be a prerequisite for DJs anyway? How long do you think it really takes to become a good DJ?
"I don't feel that everyone needs to pay their dues. However, I think as with anything in life. We become more knowledgeable about things in life the more we live life. So, I am a firm believer that with knowledge comes power and wisdom. It's a simple life saying that can be applied to most aspects of life and sure, why not DJing?"

Everyone I ever speak to about you mentions the fact that you are one of the nicest men in house music.  What's the trick to building that reputation?
"That's a very nice statement to hear. I don't know. I just love my career! I have such passion and happiness for what I do - Why not be nice!  I think respect is key in life. You respect others and usually this comes back in return. Like Karma.  At the end of the day, you have to live with yourself and your actions."

There's been a great resurgence in 90's house music in the last year as DJs discover it for the first time digitally....are there any tracks that you've been digging out and playing again?
"I'm happy that people are discovering the house movement of the 90's. It so influenced me as a DJ and as a producer and I feel it's important to know where we come from. I usually incorporate songs and tracks from the past years in my sets. So, I wouldn't say that there are certain tracks I'm playing again, I try to always play them. I play a lot of older tracks, and people usually come up and ask if it's new. I laugh, as good music transcends time."

Are there any of your own tracks that you'd like to see reworked, and by anyone in particular? Or that you wouldn't let be remixed in a certain way?
"We're working on that now. I love being able to have the control to do remixes of my music. I've signed into a couple bad deals where my music can be remixed or have videos done without my approval, and that sucks! None of the Higher States videos or remixes have ever been sent to me for my approval. I usually am out in a club or in a hotel watching music television when a new version is played and it's a horrible feeling."

The Ovum party in Miami has always been one of the highlights for the week, what's up your sleeve for this coming one?
"Our Ovum party is celebrating it's 13 years of WMC parties, and we're very happy to be doing it at Shine @ the Shelborne hotel (1801 Collins Ave) on Wednesday March 25th. A quality deep line up of: Me, Steve Bug, Davide Squillace and D'Julz.  No hype. Just a great solid group of artists that love to play music. ! We couldn't be happier!"


www.joshwink.com | www.myspace.com/joshwink | www.myspace.com/ovumrecordings | www.ovum-rec.com


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