ITM’s Honour Roll #12: Josh Wink

For the 12th installment of ITM’s Honour Roll series, we were inspired by the exploits of Josh Wink, after witnessing the U.S. veteran host his very successful Ovum Recordings arena at Belgium’s Tomorrowland in late July. He was hosting the stage for the fourth successive year, supported by the likes of Steve Bug, Shlomi Aber and the jackin’ house dream team of DJ Sneak, Derrick Carter and Mark Farina.

It was just the one highlight in an extremely successful summer season for Wink, which he’ll be winding up with another Ovum party at ADE in Amsterdam next week; not to mention what’s been one of the most enduring and consistently excellent careers in dance music. A fixture in the underground house and techno scenes since he rose through the ranks of America’s rave scene in the early ‘90s, responsible for the all-time acid classics like Higher State of Consciousness and Don’t Laugh, he’s also the figurehead behind the equally enduring Ovum Records stable, which he’s been running since 1994.

His secret? Being Josh Wink. “I just always seem to do what I do,” he tells inthemix. “I don’t really know how to do anything else. I’ve just kind of followed this mixture of house and techno, just because this is what I know, and it just never seems to have gone out of fashion. When you stay true to your integrity, you’ll stay happy and content with things.”

The only thing slowing down Wink’s presence on the global touring circuit in 2012 has been his health issues, related to back problems. Shortly after Tomorrowland he had to withdraw from several gig commitments, including a prime slot at Richie Hawtin’s smashingly popular new ENTER night in Ibiza. “Everything else is going pretty well apart from my back,” he told inthemix in August, shortly after his stint at Tomorrowland. “The label is going well, gigs have been incredible, so I feel blessed in that aspect.”

After offering his gentlemanly insights to inthemix as part of our Why The Underground Should Drop The Grudge feature, we sat down to find out what else he’s been up to.

Ovum Records has been travelling particularly well lately, with some really solid releases. Are you happy with how the label is going?

Yeah, over the 18 years of having a label, things go up and down. Recently we have been keeping right on target, and releasing the things we like to release. Whether it’s techno, deep house or somewhere in between, we’ve been happy. The most recent release has been from our Italian friend Nico Lahs, it’s like pure old-school New York deep house. We don’t always necessarily follow through with sales, but we sure release good music and people really respect that so I’m happy.

You’ve had a presence in underground music since I listening to dance music as a teenager, and you’ve always been consistent, but your profile seems particularly strong at the moment. Would you say that’s true?

I like what you’re saying. It gives me joy to hear stories like that, of how people are in the industry now and they sort of grew up with the music of myself and my colleagues. The sense that I’m still doing what I’m doing, so many years later, is a testament to the fact that I’m doing the right thing. To me really it is about integrity, it’s about being able to live with yourself and knowing you’re doing a good job. I mean your music might not be the big fad, or ‘in’ at the moment, but just being content with what we’re doing and trying to stay relevant is important. We wouldn’t be around if we weren’t relevant.

I think that’s the challenge for the veterans; to remain relevant and on the cutting edge as the years go by. They’re often burdened with higher expectations.

I try to keep myself as naïve as possible. I try to not see all the press and I get yelled at for not using enough social media. There’s only certain things I can change and control, and that’s what I want to devote my time to, rather than what I can’t. There’s always an aspect of getting older and staying relevant, and staying in the industry, because there are always younger people rising through the ranks. I think about these things from time to time, but I’m a firm believer in quality over quantity, and quality over time constraints. If we just release quality music that we genuinely feel is quality, then the right people will come to us. Then we are always happy with our fans, because we know that’s why they’ve found out about us; rather than people knowing of us because we are trendy, but not really knowing us.

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