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Sunday Lessons From Josh Wink: A Look Back on the Last Day of Piknic


On Sunday September 24th, house and techno pioneer Josh Wink graced Montreal with his presence for the season’s last Piknic, his set prefaced by a truly enjoyable conference hosted at sunny LANDR offices.

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Tune in at 2:15PM for our talk with Josh Wink!

Posted by LANDR on Sunday, September 24, 2017

Wink’s versatility and talent has transported him from mobile DJ to label owner at OVUM records, producer, and international electronic music artist.

A Voyage Through American Rave Music kicked off a hot afternoon in the city with genuine and passionate interactions about a diversity of themes: crowd-DJ interactions, the tribulations of a constantly on-the-move lifestyle, the potential disconnect between manual and digital DJ performances, the evolution of the rave industry, Philadelphia’s warehouse scene in the early 90s, the emotional importance of the lift movement occurring before the drop, and so on.

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From being a barback in nightclubs of his native Philadelphia – where he worked while underage in order to access the night life music scene – to essential actor of early rave culture to respected contemporary techno veteran, Wink is a key stakeholder of the music that we love. He spoke of the tension and buildup dynamics at the heart of his craft, his symbiotic relationship with the world and the crowds he meets, and how “oral pulses and sound waves”, along with BPM, form his essential communication with people around the world.

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Wink delivered anecdotes, opinions and experiences in an honest and humorous tone, without glossing over the less enticing aspects of music making and touring. His insight is genuine, open minded and fascinating. Owner of 14 000 records, he spoke of the nostalgic gratifications of record store subcultures and its particularities before music was so readily accessible.

Particularly interesting were his musings on the changes that have occurred within the industry, such as transitions from manual to digital sets. He observes them with a rational questioning, preserving his traditional values at points and embracing new practices at others. Wink isn’t a follower of trends, but he will adopt developments if they benefit his creations and dynamics with his fans, adopting a vision of technology as a means to an end. When questioned about the factors contributing to his success and longevity, he cited his integrity as the main reason – to which we would add his loyalty to the craft of music making and sharing, and a constant spontaneity informing his relation to the profession, his creations, and the people who are touched by it.

Wink went on to perform at Piknic Électronik , gifting us with a solid last set to prepare for next year. The artist, who has evolved within the rave scene for decades, absolutely delivered on the great responsibility that was closing the 2017 edition, visibly fuelled by a desire to connect with the audience.

What a set did he feed us ! Intense techno vibes adorned with a vibrant drum and bass entertained the beautiful crowd for a crazy and enjoyable 3 hours session. It became clear that Wink came to Piknic to do what he does best : creating an acid house, drum and bass and experimental techno soundscape, punctuated by industrial bass lines and trippy break beats. The tireless and at capacity crowd bounced and danced for hours to his explosive energetic musical cocktail.

Wink’s last release, Resist, features an acidic looping beat and repetition of the word ‘resist’ from start to end. The track marks his musical response to the present political situation in the USA, suggesting the possibility of social awareness while keeping the message simple and up to individual interpretations. It all comes back to inspiring others, through a “transcendental state of meditation you get induced in with repetitive rhythms”.

His set was true to his values: “I like to be an avenue / instrument for people to get lost” were words he pronounced earlier in the day. Wink constantly referred to himself as a sort of musical therapist, present to facilitate temporary abandonment to soundscapes. His fundamental aspirations rest on inspiring others, which in turn seems to be keeps him inspired and going. He views the possibility of escapement as something contingent on the trust between performer and audience, and that spontaneous organic moment where the listener fully clicks in tune with the sound.

Wink, who has cited that Montreal is his favorite city in North America, knew he had to make this one special, and boy did he succeed ! The click was present – we loved it !

All the techno lovers who gathered in numbers that Sunday made the event organizers proud of what has been a very successful season : despite having to change location for the event, this year’s edition has lived up to the usual colourful, dynamic and wonderful experience that is Piknic.

With local and international artists performing diverse music styles, ranging from progressive to minimal to experimental techno, to tribal vibes, or even deep and oriental house, the artist selection was curated with diversity, quality and an overall passion for live experiences. 

The artists performed their best in front of a dynamic, fervent and perpetually responsive crowd. Indeed, this season has given us memorable moments to feed our minds in anticipation for next year. See you then!


Article by Lola BaraldiIvan Pallu de Beaupuy

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