Josh Wink: Higher State of Consciousness in India 2019

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What is the A&R process in Ovum Recordings?

Josh Wink: We get bombarded with a lot of music. I try to listen to demos. I think it matters to try and find the time. But it is an equal process split between myself and a friend of mine, Matt Brookman who has been running the record label with me since, not the beginning, but I think he joined five years in. I think he has been with ovum for twenty years… and he brings things to me that I like and I bring things, the stuff that I bring to him is from like people who have given me USB keys at the clubs or link sent to me online.

He brings a reality to me, because a lot of people that give me music, give me music that kinda sounds like me which is cool. So I send Matt the track and I said.. yeah I got this really cool track and he’s like… “if I have to be completely honest with you, I agree its a cool track, but it sounds like someone trying to be you”. 

And I never thought of it like that, I just thought it was a cool track, so he’s like “I don’t know if we should sign it because people want you, not people trying to sound like you” and I said Wow! I never thought of it that way. So in our relationship that works well between us. He brings me down to reality and I bring him down to reality. Sometimes its a mistake and sometimes it is conscious what we put out. 

Why is it so hard to discover good music?

Josh Wink: There is always something new, there is always someone coming about, there is always something changing. The most unchaining thing in our life is change. It’s just in our DNA.

Dorthy 104 Electric Love
This poster is from London studio Dorothy maps the history of electronic music.

It’s a very fickle industry that we are in and there are a lot of artists that came out five years ago, two years ago, seven years ago and were very big and popular that aren’t around anymore; or they’re doing completely different sounding things.

I’m friends with Tiesto, he came up to me years ago and said… “I use to work at the record store when your music was popular and that I like your music; also because of my history and kind of listening and working at a record store with the whole techno and house”. So I am not too familiar with his (Tiesto’s) music, but I took it as a nice compliment, especially because of the size and demeanour of who Tiesto is. But his music, I mean I know him as trance artist. He was a trance artist. I don’t know too much about what he is playing now but I know he has changed. So you ask yourself… why would he change? 

My answer asks a little bit of your question as well. probably… I don’t know, he’s not here and I can’t speak on behalf of him, there was a reason why he changed, whether it was marketing or whether it’s not him being that was his integrity, he got inspired by certain music.

My friend Ali Shirazinia  (Dubfire) who runs SCI+TEC records, I mean he was half of Deep Dish and I grew up being friends and knowing him and Sharam, two Persian guys making cool house music and then Ali goes techno and minimal. Why?
He got inspired… he had a great team behind him… and he made it work. 

Dubfire ILM

You know so it is up to the individual and their integrity of why they change sounds …em… and push, maybe they are pushing themselves.  Maybe they got to a creative end in their careers, where they were just like I don’t like where I’m going, I want to do something else. Like I said before when something feels comfortable, you may want to throw a wrench in there and do something uncomfortable to see how it feels and see if you truly may like it.

What is your take on the Mental & Physical health aspect of an artist?

Josh Wink: I wish I was just a festival artist playing big-time festivals where I would play just three to five and then I have the rest of the day to do what I wanted but I… tonight is early, tonight finishes at 12 for me. And then there is the basement (warp core basement). And you have to ask yourself, the question is: Do I want to go to the basement?

You know Dev (Dev Bhatia- Unmute) asked me, how’s the jet-lag, how are you feeling? You know I just arrived yesterday, you know like it took me 15 and a half hours to get here and a nine and a half-hour time zone difference. I said something driving here which was “I love my job, I don’t like my work”; if you get that, then you got it.

Josh Wink Dev Bhatia interview

When I perform I am in bliss…. I’m a pig in shit, that’s all I want to do. 2 hours, 1 hour, 5 hours, 17 hours, that just what I love doing. But getting there and leaving, that what I get paid for, that is my work. The physical, the mental that’s where it becomes taxing. The no sleep, the jet lag, the artificial atmosphere of aeroplane travel. But constant travelling touring artists, it is big.

I didn’t see the documentary on Avicii. Supposedly its really good but supposedly he tours over 340 days a year or something like that, and had 400 gigs or something. It’s just mind-blowing. I mean yes, he was young and the body is more resilient then, to deal with things like that. But then I have been doing this 20 some years now and it becomes difficult to balance and that’s the key to life for me. It’s always been the balance. 

Am I worth it to take care of myself? Are we worth it to take care of ourselves? That’s a question I get asked. You know some artists they don’t know and they don’t care, they just want to be up on stage performing and they want to be drunk and they want to be high and they want to escape; and that works well for them. And the way they deal with no sleep is by doing more coke or something like that. For me, it is important to have a balance of everything, even though I beat myself up with this crazy schedule.

I mean a friend of mine told me… “dude you are going to India. Man, that’s fucking insane, fuck man, I wish I was going to India”. I was like immediately… I’m happy to be here, but I’m going to be away three days, three cities, in 5 days of travelling. And when I looked at him, I’m like… “shit that’s a lot of work”. And then someone said, why didn’t you stay in Mumbai for an extra day, and it’s a good question… 

So balance is being able to realise if your good enough, worth enough to yourself to be able to take care of yourself. And a lot of this industry is very difficult on the body and the mind. So I try to do things in my life to balance. So we have to ask ourselves, time management and what’s important for ourselves. But it is important in this industry to take care of yourself if you want to take care of your self. 

I like alcohol, I don’t get drunk. Certainly, that’s a big difference. I like music, that’s what gets me high, I don’t do drugs, I love food, but I’m a vegan. That’s what makes me happy. Certain things that we do in our lives make us who we are and make us work well. And sometimes we are able to see, and sometimes we are not. And self-reflection has a lot to do with it. I like my mind, so I meditate. That’s what makes me meditate, it’s that frame of mind. 

I’m also very imperfect, like everybody else. But its a very good question, allot of people talk about it because in the main industry we see the partying, the escape and there is also the other side of escape, which is a reality. It’s a big conscious decision for me to be aware, as conscious as I can on mental and physical health. We have one body, one mind and its how you live your life in your shell that defines who you are. So this works for me. 

Do you end up scrapping allot of tracks?

Josh Wink: I don’t say scrapping, I say leave them how they are and then creatively find them in the future and be like Wow! this is cool. And then I change the kick around or I change something and it becomes something uniquely different.

How many days do you spend on a track before you finalise it?

Josh Wink: Now the beautiful thing about making electronic music, there is no rule. I can make a track, I can do a remix in a day if it works and it flows and it’s just going right. But then sometimes it doesn’t work and I scrap it, or I go back to it in a month or so….

I did a remix for Steve Bug and Cle, which was a track I did in 2017. They did a track for Rejected which is Joris Voorn’s record company. The track was called Come Together. Joris Voorn did two remixes for Ovum Recordings, and I owed him a remix.

That’s the beauty of being an independent record label musician, Artists and Record labels; that you can call favours among friends, we do that sometimes. So Joris did a remix for me and I owed him one and so this track was coming out on his label from Steve Bug who is also an artist on Ovum, so it all just worked out. He mailed me the parts and 3 days later I gave him a finished product and they’re like: “holy shit! you did that so quick”. I said that “it just worked”. So sometimes creativity comes easily, peacefully, without thought, it just flows; And then sometimes it’s like banging your head against the wall. So I never know how long something is going to take.

How do you deal with creative differences during collaborations?

Josh Wink: You don’t collaborate.

Or if you do, you realise it is a democracy. I watched a little documentary on two guys that premiered the music for Stranger Things on Netflix. And they said it so eloquently, “we work together, we work separately, we work on something and then we give it to the other person and the other person works on it and..” you know… they have a symbiotic relationship and things worked out really well and… it’s symbiotic. When you need each other, and you feed off each other to get the best product that you can and that is pretty good when it happens and it works. 

FYI: In 2017, the Theme song of Stranger Things won an Emmy for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music.

So I’m used to doing things on my own. I’m not saying I don’t want to do that. It’s just, balancing the time in my life to work with someone. It’s hard enough for me to get in the studio myself, rather than it is to work with someone else. But I am doing a sub-project right now, under a different name which is downtempo electronic soul. I am working with another… I do the tracks and then bring the stems to a friend of mine who is an engineer. He is really good at what he does, he tightens it up and makes it sound good and adds his input and then we work with different vocalists. And then it seems to work out.

But trying to get into the studio at length is another story. I was at home last week and I had four days available, and he is an engineer for hire, so that’s how he makes his money. He works at the apple store in Philadelphia. But on the side he’s a true musicians engineer, he does pop music and he’s really good at it… but eh… I said “what’s your schedule like?” and he said… “a… maybe Tuesday”. So Tuesday comes around, I text him in the morning and I tell him how about today and I don’t hear back from him until 10 at night. ….. but that’s working with someone else.  

Thank you, Josh Wink, for taking the time out to speak with us, We’d like to thank UnMute Agency & Warpcore team for making this interview possible within Josh Wink’s tight touring schedule in Delhi. Cheers!

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