Having had some of our favourite musicians pass through the proverbial doors of About To Blow over the years, it’s not often we’ve had the opportunity to invite a creative along who really personifies the term in its most wholesome form. Back in his hometown of Philadelphia, it’s residents may recognise him as the founder and creative director of BWC Garments, but following a landmark episode on Soulection radio, Joshua Lang’s profile as a rising DJ with a penchant for soulful house and disco became impossible to overlook.
Having become a mainstay in Philly, frequenting unique and unconventional spaces with events in vintage stores as well as iconic venues including The Kimmel Centre for Performing Arts, Joshua’s music and events platform BWC Sounds has established itself as an innovative and immersive sub-brand that showcases house and disco in truly authentic form. What’s more, as artistic director of the ‘Room Service’ brand, working alongside founder and good friend The Whooligan, sees both regularly spin across New York, as well as far-flung locations including Bali, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok as part of their humanitarian and volunteering efforts as part of the brand’s mission statement to help and give back to deprived communities worldwide.
Having got to know Joshua through a trip to London, his taste in design, desire to help those in need, and love of house music in its truest form became abundantly clear. With a love for all things groovy and feelgood, the Philly native embodies the aforementioned in a 60+ minute mix that effortlessly weaves through a passionate and euphoric journey, slotting classic warm vocals in amongst lesser-known deep basslines for a soundtrack that works as well for daytime listening as it does for a pre-party warm up.
Peep the sounds below, and get to know the man whilst you listen as we sat down to find out a bit more about his journey to date, touching on everything from his upbringing, inspirations, his creative process and what’s to come via our chat below.
Hey Joshua, thanks for taking the time to chat! As a man with his hand in several creative fields, how you would best describe yourself to the readers?
Hmm, great question lol. Well lets see.. As a designer, dj, photographer, and a humanitarian I don’t really like putting a title on myself because I feel like that can put me in a box when im more than just a ‘label’ ya know? I would say that im a renaissance man that’s on a mission to live my truest self in whatever medium that is to express myself.
Out of your work as a designer, photographer and DJ, would you say any one of those takes priority over the other, or is more important to you, or is it a case of all aspects playing a part to create the complete picture?
At times I find myself giving more attention to the other but I think the beautiful thing about this journey is being able to let each one inspires the other. This is such a good question beacause im currently trying to find a balance between all three but ive learned to surrender and just let life take its course. Sure they’re are times where im giving more attention to one craft than the other two but i think that’s supposed to happen. I may be uninspired with designing and will find myself djing a lot more to keep my creative flow going which might spark an idea for a piece or a shoot. Eventually i want to grow the ‘Joshua Lang’ brand and host my own exhibit that includes all my mediums.
We first came across your work as a DJ through your Soulection guest mix, which remains one of the few episodes dedicated purely to House music. Just how big a moment was that for you? The exposure that comes from such an established platform must be great.
MAN lol. I would say i raised Joe’s eyebrows when I opened up for him during his solo North America tour. That was my 2nd time playing in front of a crowd and it had to be about 600-700 people there. After that he kinda kept his eye on me throughout the months and hit me up to be a guest on the show when Soulection had their North American tour stop in Philly. This was one of the biggest moments for me in my short DJ career haha. I’ve been listening to Joe since his college days so being able to lay down the only house & disco mix on that platform in Philly is legendary to me. I received a wild response from around the world which led to making great connections with people I probably would’ve never met. Forever grateful for that moment and that made me realize that I can really do this.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, a city with a rich musical history, can you tell us a bit about the city and the type of influence its had on you creatively up to this point?
Born and raised in New Jersey actually! I was born in Atlantic City / grew up there for a bit then my parents moved me and my brother to a town called Cherry Hill for school. My whole family is from Philadelphia though so i’ve been in the city my whole life. I personally moved to Philly about 10 years ago and I always tell people it’s where i was born again. That’s where I found myself and my understanding of life and what I wanted to do. Philadelphia is a very cut throat city, very raw, very straight to the point, a city of fighters. You kind of learn how to have tough skin when you’re here. The way this city is growing economically and creatively right now is so wild to watch and amazing to be apart of. There’s a major shift happening and I’m truly inspired by the creative community that’s developing here. We’re all helping each other out and making sure that we put philly on the map in the upcoming years. I’m also very lucky and grateful to be able to create friendships with the older generation that helped pave the way for us. Being able to talk to them to really understand what was going down through the 70s-90s is a blessing! Understanding that Philly was THE hub for musicians back in the day inspires me to get it back to that way. Artists from David Bowie to Prince to Michael Jackson all recorded music here. It’s incredible to think about!
Away from music you’re also the founder and creative director of BWC Garments – can you tell us a bit about what drew you into the world of fashion and about how BWC started?
Me dropping out of college sophomore year from a football scholarship started it all. I moved back home to Jersey clueless and completely lost. I ended up working two jobs from 5am-10pm because I obviously needed money but I had nothing else to do. During this time I was trying to find out what I truly liked because my world was football for 18 years. I randomly downloaded photoshop one day and started learning how to design logos etc. Eventually i got to a point where I wanted to share what I was making so i made 4 mockup t shirts and posted it on facebook. Received an unexpected reaction and fell in love with that feeling. After that I wanted to learn more and more about fashion and making more than just t shirts so i would take the bus up to NY to go to the fabric shops just to ask tons of questions. I did that for a few months then eventually moved to Philly where the idea of having my own brand all started. Released my first cut & sew piece in 2015 and haven’t looked back since
One element that’s clear from BWC’s aesthetic is your penchant for keeping designs clean and sophisticated, do you try and keep a consistency between collections? Where do your ideas stem from for these?
Yes, sophisticated comfortability is my vision for BWC. Making clothes that people can put on in the morning and carry it throughout the evening and still be able to wear it to a business meeting or a fancy dinner. I design every collection with that in mind so there’s consistency in my designs. I want people to be able to look at the clothes without seeing the logo and recognizing its a BWC piece from the cuts and materials. I draw my inspiration from my inner world. BWC is very personal and emotional i guess you would say. I create from the inside out and whatever im going through during that time i make sure you feel that through that story and the clothing. Our videographer/photographer, Austin, does an amazing job at creating videos that capture the exact feeling im trying to communicate. It gives me the chills even thinking about it!
With roots firmly in Philly and New York City, we know you’ve been working with a factory in Asia for your last collection, what was the experience like going over there and meeting those who put your ideas into creation?
I ended up meeting a guy when i was with Soulection in Tokyo. The guy ended up owning his own factory in China so we kept in touch throughout the year. I was always curious about the way manufacturing worked over there because I would always hear good and bad things so i just wanted to see for myself. Flying there by myself was terrifying because I wasn’t going to the major cities like Beijing & Shanghai, i was going to the mainland of China where people haven’t seen a black person in real life ever! Such an eye opening experience that pushed me to grow within. I was lucky enough to build a good relationship with the factory prior so they really took care of me while I was there. We worked 12-14 hours a day for 5 days straight to complete samples for next collection.
Conversely, on the music side, you’ve been putting on events in Philly under the BWC Sounds umbrella of the brand, can you tell us a bit about those?
We throw these really cool intimate events that are always in different locations. It could be a cafe, a restaurant, a boutique, a state of the art venue, basically anywhere you wouldn’t expect to party. We keep it 100% house, disco, & funk. We pay close attention to how the environment feels as well and turn each location to our own personal vibe. Our audience is very diverse because of the clothing part of the brand. People from your suit and tie crowd, to the underground crowd, to the older generation, to artist & creatives. We’re like the hub of the city where everyone comes together. It’s pretty tight to see!
Your mixes and the BWC sound has a feel good, groovy and soulful house framework. What artists inspire your sound, and who are you currently feeling?
Definitely a feel good and groovy vibe but i’m into harder hitting tracks as well when playing in a nightclub. I usually take the crowd on a musical journey. To name a few artist: Kerri Chandler, Louie Vega, Cody Currie, Hotmood, Borrowed Identity, Fred Everything, Joss Moog, Chris Stussy, Demuir, Detriot Swindle, Joey Negro, The Martinez Brothers, Mike Dunn, Eli Escobar – the list goes on!
Can you tell us a bit about what’s it like as a DJ in Philly? Where are your favourite venues to play in and party at?
I love this city to death but to keep it all the way honest it’s tough playing here when it comes to playing house. The house scene here is small & limited and can get redundant. Not too many people ‘get it’ here and there are a lot more top 40 spots / trap & hip hop parties. I play in NY more than I play here which is a blessing.
Can you fill us in on what’s to come and what the rest of your year has in store?
I’m currently working on 3 big projects for 2020 so that’s where all my energy is going right now. I wanted to take this year to get to know myself again & find new inspiration. My main focus is to fix my inside world before i continue living out my dreams because all of that stuff on the outside doesn’t mean a damn thing until im 100% good mentally, physically and spiritually.
Lastly, tell us a bit about the creation of the mix and what your intentions were for it?
Every live set and mix i do is a way of self expression and what i’m feeling during that period of my life. I wanted to take it a bit deeper than usual but still keep it funky and groovy.