Way back in 1999, the economy was booming, Internet stocks were worth something, and Josh Wink was signed to Ruffhouse/Columbia Records. After the 303-tweaked acid-house redux of his “Higher State of Consciousness,” Wink was a next-big-thing, an American heir to the Prodigy legacy of the mid-'90s.
But then, in what became his swan song for Columbia, Wink released Profound Sounds, Vol. 1. Instead of the big dance hits, Wink created edits of obscure tracks and mixed between them and the vinyl originals, creating a hard-to-pin-down tech-house mix that reverberated with the hazy 4 a.m. logic of a late-night party. “I don't think people were expecting that,” Wink says. “That was the whole thing comparing me to Moby or Prodigy — I chose not to go there. I was known more in the U.S. as a DJ than as an artist anyway, so I chose the hard way: to be a DJ with an artist's integrity.”
Cut to 2003: The economy's on wartime life-support, Internet fortunes have gone the way of Razor scooters and men's capri pants, and even Moby can't follow Moby into modern-rock crossover anymore. But Wink, back home on his own Ovum label, is still thriving in the underground. His latest mix CD, Profound Sounds, Vol. 2, is testament, although it took a little while before Wink was happy with it. “[Vol. 1], to me, was the epitome of a mix compilation because it told a story and showed how I performed as a DJ,” he says with a sigh. “But I got something now. I topped that off.”
As with Vol. 1, Wink created Vol. 2 with two CD players and three turntables. But this time, Wink explored Stanton's Final Scratch. “I did versions of the songs in Logic Audio — crossfades, dropouts — like old tape editing,” he says. “And I did all the postproduction work: loops, dropping the bass out, adding reverb to the tracks, extending them, making them shorter. Then, I merged the audio regions into WAV files and mixed them using Final Scratch. I also used [Red Sound] Cycloops — so I could sample stuff live and remix it — and my old first-model Roland DJ1000 mixer, which has interesting EQ and effects.”
Beginning with Swayzak's sublime “Form Is Emptiness,” Wink moves into the percussive tech house of David Alvarado's “Auburn,” followed by the Detroit-esque techno of Johannes Heil's “Future Primitive” and finishing with his own disco-house mix of Dave Clarke's “The Compass.” But in adding his own production elements, Vol. 2 was no easy feat for Wink: “Doing my own versions of songs actually took me longer to get the flow of it. It wasn't like a mix CD where you get the big tracks and mix them in, mix them out.”
For Wink, the pitfall of mix CDs is that it's easy to create them without much creativity. “There are DJs who play records, and there are DJs who play music,” he says. Wink chooses to be the latter: “I don't want to take away from what the artist has already accomplished with a song; I respect that. But I am into doing my own versions. I just add my own vision.”