Andrew Wowk is a DJ, producer, radio host, and writer who has been active in the Sydney electronic music scene for over fifteen years. First introduced to dance music culture through work experience at community radio station Rhythm FM at age 16, Andrew exudes a passion for and knowledge of music that comes with being a part of the scene for such a long time.
As a DJ, Andrew has earned a reputation for refined technical skills and eclectic taste. Whether he’s playing across the spectrum of techno and house, 160-170bpm music such as drum & bass, jungle, footwork, breakbeat, electro, UK bass, or ambient and electronica, he finds ways to combine numerous influences into a cohesive whole. Often focused more on telling a story or creating a particular feeling with his sets, he regularly moves fluidly across stylistic boundaries, preferring to find other similarities between tracks rather than just their genre or BPM.
His intelligent approach to DJing has led to him playing at some of Sydney’s and Australia’s most well-respected clubs and events, both as a headliner and as a support act for international artists. He has also received international recognition, being invited to play guest sets at DEPTH and Train Car House Party in Seattle, as well as perform on 313.FM in Detroit, WNYU in New York, and provide podcasts for Animal Instinct in Berlin, Fnoob Radio, and Error Sessions in the UK.
Outside of club DJing, Andrew also produces original music which has been released on labels such as Baroque Recordings, Monarch Records, and Sounds Broken, hosts “Time To Track” on Bondi Beach Radio, and regularly writes for both print and online media.
You DJ live both in night clubs and on radio shows; tell me what the main difference is between these kind of performances and what is the main driving factor when choosing tracks during these sets?
In terms of my fundamental approach to DJing, it’s really quite similar for both – play a variety of music in a coherent way. That never changes, no matter the setting. However at a gig I do have to be cognisant of the vibe of the venue and the party itself; what time I’m playing; whether I’m the headliner or a support act; how the crowd are responding to certain tracks; and so on.
This generally means there’s a slightly “narrower” range to that variety, as certain things are going to work (or not) depending on the aforementioned factors. On the radio it’s just me in total control and it’s my time-slot to express myself without any need to really consider what shows came before or after me, or trying to build and keep a dance floor going. In that way radio allows me to be a little more self-indulgent and play a much broader range of music, including tracks that wouldn’t work in a club setting.
Even though I do have a large listener base tuned in to what I’m doing, they are specifically listening to my show, and often doing it from home, while commuting, traveling or working. Usually when I play gigs in clubs I play a fairly even split of new and old music – one of my favourite things to do is dig out older tracks I’ve forgotten about, or B-sides of records I never played – whereas on the radio my focus tends to be exclusively on new and forthcoming music.
Your creativity cuts across several disciplines – which one is your favourite and why?
This is a question I get asked quite frequently, and honestly answering it never really gets any easier. The major reason I like to play different genres of music is because I enjoy the challenge of working out how to make them fit together. Once I stopped thinking about tracks in terms of genre or BPM and more in terms of vibe, aesthetic, production value, whether they had a particular type of drum, bassline, or synth sound etc., I just found that opened up a whole new approach to DJing.
Going from a house to a breaks track that both share a similar aesthetic or emotion for example, can sound way smoother than even going between two tracks that are both technically house. I guess if I had to pick a favourite, I would say that techno has the most influence on me – much of what I like, regardless of its genre, seems to follow the techno ethos of trying to sound unique and interpret old ideas in new ways.
You are a pretty vocal personality on social media, known for not bullshitting around. Do you think that it’s a liberating or potentially reckless approach to an online persona?
It’s both, really. I don’t doubt for a second that there are events out there that I haven’t been booked for because I don’t have the time or motivation to sugar coat everything I say and don’t have a problem just being completely honest about something. But honestly, I don’t want to play for someone whose ego is so fragile that they won’t book someone who might disagree with them about something or offer them fair criticism. There are plenty of amazing people out there who work with artists based purely on whether they are appropriate for their event and have the necessary skills, not whether you suck up to them on the daily. I’ve had heated discussions with some of those people in the past, but when it came down to it – if I was right for their gig they booked me, and if I wasn’t they didn’t. That’s how it should be.
I will say that I certainly have a uniquely acerbic, satirical style of delivery, which likely comes from my work as a journalist and my hobby as an improv theatre and comedy performer. It has definitely gotten me in trouble in the past, and I can totally understand why there are people who don’t like or appreciate it, or feel that a perfectly reasonable point is masked by the delivery of said point. Again, that’s their personal choice and they have every right to feel that way. If they want to allow that to colour their opinion of me as a performer, I won’t stop them. But like I said there are plenty of people out there who choose who they work with based on ability and relevance, and many of those people often get involved in the banter, which is fun. I think sometimes we need to laugh at ourselves and our scene, it’s healthy.
As a final note, it’s worth pointing out that some (not all) of the people who have these entirely positive personas on social media often talk shit in private anyway. You see them sharing events saying things like “wow best lineup ever!” in the hope they’ll get booked (or because they were booked), but this comes a few weeks after they’ve privately bitched about the very person putting on that event, one of the headliners, etc. It’s really disingenuous and honestly that upsets me far more than someone who makes a smart arse remark about something. But each to their own, if someone is happy to put on a particular public face knowing that it’s not entirely genuine, that’s their prerogative. That sounds like too much effort to me and I’d rather at least be able to say that I stick to my guns.
1. JK Flesh – Wasplike
2. Andreas Kauffelt – Bassquake
3. Setaoc Mass – Evidence
4. PVS – Subjective Evidence
5. Julia Govor & Jeroen Search – You Are The Machine
6. AIROD – Cosmic Waves
7. Thomas Krome – Shockabaku Volume 2 (B1)
KONTRAST COLLECTIVE is a group of creative spirits who loves to combine raw sounds, dark, thumping beats and intense, edgy musical experiences with extraordinary visual elements in an experimental and innovative way. Apart from organising events we love to shine light on Australia’s best upcoming and veteran DJ’s. The fifteenth round of the KONTRAST Mini-Mix Series will run from February 6th to 27th, with an exclusive podcast from each artist along with a short interview to get to know them better.
Mini-Mix Series #15: