Josh Wink gives an interview on club vs. home life ahead of hometown Halloween gig.
It’s a brisk fall afternoon when I meet up with Josh Wink at Northern Liberties record store Profond Music N Art. Josh has just arrived back from finishing an acclaimed summer residency in Ibiza and is helping organize his son’s birthday party before heading out to Amsterdam the next night.
“My son is four, so I’m still new to being a parent, and there’s all these things I try to balance: being a father and a partner to my wife, being ‘just Josh’ to the people I know from the neighborhood and community gardens, and then being Josh Wink the artist. Finding time to do other things is difficult, but there’s something nice and humble about being here in Philly. I like riding my bike places, I don’t have a car.”
This year marks the twentieth anniversary of Josh’s game-changing anthem “Higher State of Consciousness”, the first instrumental record to ever enter the UK’s top 15 national chart twice in one year. The track burst him onto the international scene and became heavily engrained with the first wave of pre-EDM stadium-packing electronic music that took the US and Europe by storm in the ‘90s.
Josh co-hosted a show on WKDU in the 90s called Rave FM, so you know we had to get him to do a station ID for us!
Playing the right track at the right time is one of the most important aspects of DJing. I asked some of my favorite DJs that spun on New Year’s what they played at MIDNIGHT to see what songs ushered in 2015 !!!
Matthew Law FKA DJ PHSH is a man that really shouldn’t need an introduction.
He’s rocked pretty much every spot in Philly, and has been moving asses in clubs before he was even allowed to drink. He was the tour DJ for Dave Chappelle’s Oddball Comedy Tour, the Northeast champion of the 2013 Red Bull 3Style Contest, and has spun numerous highly acclaimed gigs including LA’s the Do-Over and Low End Theory.
It seems like forever ago that I sat down with Matt, and since then, he’s recorded the official Roots Picnic Mixtape and opened up the annual PSK event for J. Rocc, Rich Medina, Cosmo Baker, Cash Money, and Questlove – amongst his normal crazy schedule.
Peep his dope set from PSK, and read our chat to get hype for his 3rd annual PHSH TANK Block Party this weekend.
ML: I’m Matthew Law – you might know me from before as DJ PHSH. I’m a DJ, producer, vision guy – I have a lot of ideas.
CB: What were your first musical memories?
ML: My parents had a theatre company together, up until I was 14. I grew up with that, and also played violin for six years.
Growing up in West Philly in the 90s, the hip hop and alternative rock stuff was really poppin, so I remember that. My Dad liked the modern rock too, so we’d go on drives and listen to Y100 or WMMR and joke around. I still remember being like 7, and listening to Pearl Jam and making fun of Eddie Vedder with all the aaayyyyy-eee-yayy-yuhhh’s.
CB: Y100, RIP! I remember them making fun of Creed also.
ML: Oh Y100 would rag on Creed so hard.
It’s a weird segway – but I remember there being such a weird feeling of race separation once I started hearing Beastie Boys and Eminem on Y100, but not any other rap. I was like, “Oh so I guess if they’re white guys it’s OK for them to be on Y100?” I thought that was really strange, and even at 12, I boycotted them for like two months. My first concert was at Veterans Stadium with Dave Matthews Band, The Roots, and Santana. I was 10, and I came for Dave Matthews Band. I had no idea who The Roots were.
I don’t have any older siblings, so when it came to hip hop, the reason I probably attached to it so much, besides a few key people, was that I really had to discover it on my own, and make it my own.
CB: So how’d you get into DJing, and what was your first set up like?
ML: I saw Scratch, the documentary, and I was like, that’s what I wanna do, I wanna try it out. I didn’t really have anybody to show me anything up until I met Illvibe Collective. It was just watching Scratch over and over again.
It’s funny because on the special edition of it, Z-Trip gave a 20 minute tutorial on how to be a DJ for the most part. Last year, I was DJing at Output with Rich Medina, Questlove, and Z-Trip, and I was like, “Yo, you were my first DJ teacher!”
My first set up was the Stanton STR 880 DJ in a box. The first pair of turntables I saw in person was from this kid I went to Hebrew school with, he got those for his Bar Mitzvah. His Bar Mitzvah was after mine, and when I saw his, I was like, “Man, I shouldn’t have gotten a guitar!”
CB: How did you start to build up a name for yourself in Philly and beyond?
ML: I started DJing the Gathering, the longest running hip hop event in Philadelphia. When I was 18, I had my first consistent gig in a club at Medusa Lounge on Tuesdays. I didn’t try to drink, and I think I got a way with a lot of stuff because I knew I was there to work. I wasn’t there to party – I was there to make the party happen.
Then in 2009, everything blew up with my first party, Superdope. Nose Go, Yis Goodwin, had a magazine called McJawn with Gwen Vo, and Leah Kauffman had just started the blog Phrequency. Sammy Slice had his party Mo Money Mo Problems, and while we were somewhat in competition, as far as the kids that were our age, we all were working together in some way.
I started Superdope when I was 20, still not drinking, and on my 21st birthday, there was a thunderstorm. I thought nobody was gonna come out, and we had over 350 people that night.
CB: How was Low End Theory when you spun out there?
ML: Low End Theory was great. It was the first time in a while that I understood that a large crowd of people might not be there to dance, cuz it’s beat heads. So they’re just looking at you like, yeah, you might hear a ‘wooh’.
CB: Let’s talk about the Matthew Law name change.
ML: My full name is Matthew Lawrence Fishman-Dickerson. I came up with DJ PHSH in 10th grade chemistry – I just needed a name. I’m producing now, and I don’t want people to get the wrong idea about what I’m capable of, so that’s why I’m going with Matthew Law.
Plus, a lot of my mentors go by their names, Statik is now Mr. Sonny James, King Britt’s real name is King Britt, Rich Medina’s real name is Rich Medina, and I thought I’d get on the bus.
CB: Tell us what to expect from your new EP.
ML: I’m currently working on it. It’s a storytelling record. Originally it was like oh I’m breaking up from DJ PHSH, but it ended up being like oh I’m breaking up with a girl and then going into a new relationship, new girl. Each track is it’s own thing – it’s a score to my own short film in my mind. I just got a bass player on it, there’s some funky samples and modern funk electronics, and a slow jam with a really ill guitar solo from Joe Jordan.
CB: Favorite closing track:
ML: Between two records.
I’m always the first one there and last one to leave, somebody better be going home with something.
It was sampled for SWV’s – The Rain.
*editor’s note – I linked to the live version of this song because it’s the shit*
CB: What’s something interesting about you outside of music?
ML: I grew up watching a lot of anime. Not like oh Pokemon’s on, Dragonball Z’s on – no, I watched Akira in a dark room by myself when I was 11. I saw Ninja Scroll when I was 9. I think it’s really funny when people try to rag on anime and act like that shit’s for nerds – it was the foundation for your entire childhood! All those cartoons you used to watch were outsourced to Asia, stop bullshitting. Do not front. I take the strongest approach possible when it comes to defending watching good anime.
Guys, I’ve never done a chart before, so consider this my chart cherry! These are 10 tracks that have frequently found their way into my recent mixes and general listening. Some of these tracks are built squarely for the club, some are more for headphones, some are new, and some have been out there a while, but all are good. No particular order.
A flat out just good song – I wish it were longer! Brodinski said it was his favorite song of 2013. The song opens up with a looping, “I don’t know what I was thinking about most of the time…” while a heavenly beat builds. Can you guess what they were thinking about?
I picked up this track from a pink 12” of remixes at Princeton Record Exchange and was hype to see that the seldom releasing Crackboy was one of the remixers on it. The elusive French producer tweaks Lidell’s amazing voice around one hook, and builds a monstrous swinging beat for a slamming good time. What’s even cooler is that I can’t find this track anywhere digitally (this video has like 500 views) – viva vinyl.
I had no clue who Head High is (later figured out that it’s one of the many aliases of German producer Shed), but I trust Modeselektor & their 50Weapons imprint, so no surprise that this is a damn good remix. The vocals haunt throughout the chugging drum-heavy track: “This is not what you wanted, nor what you had in mind…”
I love the new Four Tet album, and this is definitely a standout track from it for me. The beat is super raw and bumps, but then it gets all soft and melodic before going back in. Four Tet’s always been the king of samples and interesting music; this one makes me dance more than chin scratch.
I’ve definitely fallen victim to the recent resurgence in legendary Chicago house label Dance Mania (a retrospective compilation on the label just came out), and that victimization led me to this amazing track. Take everything that’s great about ghetto house: fast paced beating drums and bass, dirty vocals, raw energy, and then add in a super melodic beat flip, and BOOM – you have this track. DJ Deeon definitely shows his depth as a producer on this remix, I play it both faster and slower in mixes – really whenever I can.
Duck Sauce’s funky, fresh, and simple songs tend to come out as the weather gets warm, and give me all kinds of reasons to smile. This track was released for free as part of the duo’s “Duck Droppings” EP, preceding their first album “Quack”, out on April 15th. All of the tracks are great, and lean wonderfully on samples (look them up), but this track is so damn catchy, and I find myself playing it on loop all the time.
Once you listen to this track, the cover for this very solid EP (Mr. Flex: a banana with a mustache, sunglasses, and biceps) makes total sense. Long time label affiliate Sammy Bananas melds dance-y futuristic and vintage sounds for a party starting results. This track hits with just the right amount of horns, blips, and sleaze.
A great recent example of using speeches/dialogue/spoken word over a house beat. The beat is funky and simple, and then a male storyteller is added over top, hilariously recounting a crazy trip at a warehouse party with “kids that are way more turnt up than me.” Play It Down, the label Jessie Rose runs, has had a string of great releases, and his new album “The Whole Twelve Inches” (which this track is a part of) and all of its remixes, definitely should continue the label’s strong momentum well into 2014.
I was in a hotel room in India listening to Claude VonStroke’s Essential Mix, and he started his mix off with this track. I had only heard the original up until that point (which is a bomb), and I could have picked almost any of the tracks from the young Ultramajic label for this list, but this remix from label boss Jimmy Edgar is particularly doing it for me and has a poignant memory attached to it. Edgar has been on fire lately, turning everything he touches into drummed out techno bliss; I definitely look forward to more from him and his label this year.
I love the original of this song, but was looking for just the right remix of it to use in mixes. A little SoundCloud digging later, I came across this free download, whose genre is listed as “Porn Groove”. The original of this is super hypnotic and weird, and this bootleg cleverly blends the instrumental of UK Grime artist Wiley’s “Ice Rink”, making it more of a DJ tool, and still keeping the weird of the original.
Drexel Alumni Jack Deezl and Aaron Ruxbin approach the craft of DJing from two extremely different angles, but both coalesce at the intersection of passion and obstinacy. Refusing to succumb to the pressures of conformity both within the stigma and equipment typically associated with being a popular disc jockey, these men find themselves on the polar opposite spectrum of what defines DJing: one playing only vinyl records, the other [mostly] originals. One pure analog preservation, the other digitally manipulated live. The unifying factor being an emphasis on challenging the listeners expectations, advancing an amalgamation of sounds new and old, and digging for the deepest cuts; whether unearthed from years ago or synthesized earlier today. You won’t hear any top 40 in these sets, but you will hear something brand new, every time, guaranteed. Two special live in-studio sets from across the sonic spectrum. Put on your thinking caps and lay out your disco pants, Jack Deezl and Aaron Ruxbin are going VAHN DEEEEPEEERRRR!
Jack Deezl and Aaron Ruxbin will be performing with RJD2 at Union Transfer on February 21. Tune in to The Halfway House on February 20th to catch their Live @ WKDU session.