Claude VonStroke along with his record label, Dirtybird, had arguably their biggest year ever in 2015, garnering endless new fans even though they’ve been making waves in the tech and house scene for over ten years. The label, led by Claude VonStroke, aka Barclay Crenshaw, created their own bass-driven and funky tech and house subgenre – booty tech – inspiring producers and labels from all across the world to follow in their path. By way of their Dirtybird BBQs originating in San Francisco and spreading to the rest of the country, Dirtybird has gained the attention of fans of not only house, but all across the spectrum.
Claude VonStroke, along with the rest of the Dirtybird roster climaxed this year at their own West Coast festival, the Dirtybird Campout, showing that labels have the power to throw the kind of events they really dream about, unabashed by major event companies. We caught up with him before the final stop of his Get Real tour in New York – a new project with Green Velvet, aka Cajmere – to talk about his 2015, plans for 2016, and music trends.
This is your last stop on the New Years run of the “Get Real” Tour - what’s been your favorite so far?
I thought Detroit and Denver were the best – oh and Exchange was good too! They’ve all been pretty good
Well hopefully tonight’s even better
When was the last time you played in New York before this?
I came to New York a lot of times in 2015, but I think the last time was probably with Disclosure
Did you ever picture yourself playing Madison Square Garden?
What’s the number one thing you want to accomplish in 2016?
I just want to make more music than I’ve been making and just continue growing our events side of things.
Any place you want to expand to that you never thought you could before?
Yeah, but I can’t say anything because I don’t want to get everybody’s hopes up and then not do it!
What moment were you most proud of in 2015?
The Campout, definitely. That we were able to pull it off.
Do you want to bring that other places or don’t want to say?
I can’t talk about it but it might happen!
I hope, but don’t want to jinx you
Thank you *laughs*
Dirtybird productions seemed to veer in a more bass-oriented direction this year, was that on purpose or what was just being sent in?
Uhm, it really just goes on what was coming in. But I mean like, it really varies. Even the last release with Bruno Furlan was really house-y, the New Years release has a lot of different stuff. The “Get Real” release coming in January is going to be super funky.
Yeah, just seemed like Bass House had a huge year in 2015.
Yeah the interesting thing is that a few years ago we started integrating that UK Drum ’N Bass into House. I actually tried to stay away from that this year.
I guess it just bled everywhere else.
Yeah, it just.. uh…. I feel like it’s kind of over. Just my personal taste.
How do you choose which moniker you produce certain tracks under, from Claude VonStroke, to Get Real, even to your own name, Barclay Crenshaw which you just put some tracks out under.
Get Real is me and Green Velvet, then Claude VonStroke is any House stuff that I do, then stuff under my real name is anything that’s not House.
Do you have any plans to focus on one more than the other?
No, I think there’s going to be a lot of Claude VonStroke, and then the others are just going to be whatever we have… time for? I think there’ll be two Get Real records, not just one. But the first one’s done, it’s out in like three weeks. It’s a fun one.
How did you coordinate you and Green Velvet producing together?
I went to Caj’s house in Chicago for three days and stayed there, then once we got the files started we were able to just talk on the phone and finish some up in California. We were able to get everything going in Chicago, then just over the phone.
Do you ever feel pressured to finish a song - I know a lot of people feel like a track is never done.
That’s definitely the hardest thing, because you can just work on it forever.
One of the keys to success is just realizing when you’re making .00001% difference, you need to just give it up.
Eventually you’ll end up changing the entire bassline and ruining the whole thing. The other thing is that if you notice that you keep changing it non stop it’s probably not good. You should just move on.
What’s the worst show you’ve ever played?
*laughs* I feel bad for the guy who did this because he’s apologized so many times since. I played this New Years Party in Australia one year, and even the promoter of the party didn’t know how to get to the room I was playing in, it was like through an elevator, three left turns, and like a weird room with carpeting and there was no one there. It was just like a huge building. They were trying to do multiple rooms. Also like my wife and all her friends were there and she was trying to be like “oh my husband is a DJ”, and then they showed up and it was super embarrassing.
What’s a track you wish you signed?
Uhhhh, there’s a couple tracks that I had that I didn’t sign because I was too slow, one was like, uh we did the first Julio Bashmore record then I just didn’t look at my email in time for his big one.
But you had it!
Yeah, it was just sitting there and I just saw it too late. There was another one, I think it was Eats Everything “Entrance Song”, I had that sitting in my inbox forever. I mean I listen to every demo just sometimes it takes a few weeks and sometimes people just need something signed immediately.
What’s the best advice for a producer? Just send it?
Yeah, I listen to them all, it’s just if you need it to get listened to in like three days of sending it… *laughs*
It’s not gonna happen.
It might happen, it’s just unlikely.
Who’s an artist that deserves more attention?
You know, the guys that are opening tonight – Walker & Royce, they’re doing amazing stuff. They’re from New York and they have done a few remixes this year – more remixes than originals and they’re killing it. They’re doing amazing in my opinion.
If you had to choose - only produce or only DJ for the rest of your life, what would you pick?
Oh… I would probably produce. But not because I don’t like DJing, just because I’d want to be with my family, and also I’m not like twenty.
Yeah, I can imagine it’s a lot of sleepless nights.
I’m on the older end of the spectrum.
What’s been a crazy no-sleep bender you’ve hit on tour.
Actually this New Years run! I didn’t really realize how many shows we did. We did a lot. It’s funny how a “New Year’s Eve” run can be like eight shows. I feel like people just say New Years eve is forever. Three days before, two days after!
If DIrtybird never happened what would you be doing?
Well before this I was editing commercials and stuff. I don’t know, I guess I’d be doing some kind of media job probably, some kind of filmmaking.
What kind of stuff were you doing?
Terrible stuff *laughs*. Well I worked in LA on some big, bad movies. Like huge Paramount crappy movies then I was an Assistant Editor at a place that was doing like Men’s Warehouse commercials, then I was running a DVD shop, I was like going the opposite direction of how I wanted to be going.
Well it seems like you ended up in the right place
Yeah, I think I was better at music than filmmaking. Not to say I was bad at filmmaking, I just wasn’t willing to continue the struggle in it. I feel like it’s harder.
Yeah, I’m an editor so I understand that.
Yeah, it’s money, and you have to be a great collaborator with tons of people to be great at it.
Well talking about collaborating, how did you end up starting this really big project, “Get Real” with Green Velvet?
Well we were judges on this thing that we did a couple of summers ago in Ibiza called “Corona Sunsets”. It was just kind of a competition in Europe for up-and-coming producers. So we kind of became friends from that, then after we DJed together in Miami, just because we both showed up to our gig at the same time and I don’t know who was supposed to play first so we just decided to do it together. Then we knew that was fun and that’s kind of how it just evolved – really naturally. I mean even on the PR side of it, it’s been super natural. We’re not trying to do huge marketing campaigns or anything, people are just into it.
I feel like both your fan bases, although they’re different, they have similar interests and a respect for music.
Yeah, I think it’s working. The parties have all been sold out, so that’s good! It’s been going great. Our “Get Real” release on Dirtybird comes out January 22nd on Beatport, then like two weeks after for the world!