When Josh Wink answered the phone to speak with New Times in advance of his Labor Day weekend DJ set at Treehouse, the rave-culture pioneer and influential producer promised he would call back shortly: He had to attend to a matter more urgent than discussing his life’s work and ongoing projects.
“I'm just putting my son to bed,” Wink shared. “You know... Daddy DJ duties.”
The image of a domesticated Josh Wink is jarring to those who best remember him as the DJ with blond dreads who tore up countless decks during the Winter Music Conferences of years past and who, by his own admission, “didn't sleep in days” before performing at the inaugural Ultra Music Festival in 1999.
But as unlikely as it seems, the Josh Wink of 1994 who produced “Higher State of Consciousness” and sent innumerable LED gloves reaching for the sky is not all that dissimilar from the Josh Wink touring alongside techno-pop artist Matthew Dear in 2018. It would seem that more than a quarter-century spent raving and rocking has done nothing to temper his enthusiasm for good tunes and the crowds that beg for them.
“We like traveling in the U.S.," Wink says of the coheadlining tour with Dear, where the two will swap opening and closing responsibilities. "We just want to have a good party with good people — young fans, old fans, new fans... We just want to have a fun time.”
The September 1 set will be the latest in a long series of Miami appearances from the Philadelphia-born-and-raised DJ/producer.
“It was a really cool and special time,” Wink says of early iterations of WMC. “Fontainebleau was the scene to do; that’s where you'd go and get your promos and schmooze. It was kind of a little naive in the fact that just everybody and anybody was just there and just being who they were without the egos, without the paparazzi, and without the cameras... It was really easygoing and laid-back.”
Wink says it was a treat to watch masters of their craft descend upon the city during Miami Music Week, adding there was “a special intrigue” to the way vinyl records once broke during the parties and club gigs that unfolded.
“People would come with boxes of records to hand out to DJs to play and to break,” Wink recounts. “But certain DJs — Louie Vega, Todd Terry, Masters at Work, Tony Humphries, or Danny Tenaglia — would always play a bunch of records that no one had any clue what they were or where you could get them. You may not even be able to get it for another two to three months. [WMC] wasn't full of Shazams and things like that. “
However, Florida means much more to Wink than just Winter Music Conference, Ultra, and Miami. In addition to displaying an encyclopedic knowledge of the histories behind Florida’s regional electronic and dance scenes — an education he no doubt earned during years spent crisscrossing the state performing at raves — Wink has been traveling to the Sunshine State to visit family since he was a young boy and continues to do so for that same reason.
“My grandmother lived at 179th Street, right below Aventura in North Miami Beach, and I used to come and visit her every winter since I was 7 years old,” Wink shares. “Florida has a little bit of a connection to me. My mother has been living for the past 20-plus years in Sarasota, and my father [lives in Boca Raton].”
Even though he says he could never live here and is more of a “Northeast-city kind of guy,” Wink says he loves visiting Miami with his family whenever possible. He's bummed that next month’s trip down will be for only a single night.
“Since my son was born, we go down for like a month every year in March, whether it be South Pointe or Miami,” Wink says. “My son loves coming down there.”
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And it would seem that Miami — along with the artists who pass through here — continues to love him back. Wink was pleased to hear that not only had Chicago techno legend Green Velvet dropped “Higher State of Consciousness” during a sold-out August 2018 visit to Club Space, but also that the crowd responded by throwing down in kind. Even though each individual story still surprises him, Wink is more than aware of the impact his music and DJ sets have left on artists and audiences.
"[Bulgarian techno producer KiNK] was like, ‘You, Aphex Twin, and Richie Hawtin were the three most influential people in making music for me,'" Wink says. “I have countless stories about people naming their kid 'Josh' because they met when they were raving. ['Higher State of Consciousness'] came on and they fell in love. Or people from Eastern Europe not speaking any English, hearing that song on the radio, going to England wanting to learn English and go record shopping.
So it's nice that it's inspired so many people and is still creating a lot of happiness and fun times... It's kind of like getting a tattoo that you really like and it's sticking with you your whole life.”