As the original Motown diva of dance music Martha Reeves once said, “Detroit is full of talent.” Barclay Crenshaw, aka Claude VonStroke, will you please stand up?
Introducing the man—a family man—behind progressive music label Dirtybird Records, who continues to influence, uplift, and innovate the underground dance scene, featuring funk, house, dirty-bass, and electronica artists. This bird has a knack for discovering new talent. As a dedicated A&R agent, he’s signed over 100 EPs so far. Simply put, VonStroke has an ear: Justin Martin, Kill Frenzy, Justin Jay, and J.Phlip are all hot tickets that have been hand-selected by Claude. He runs a tight ship with his hard-working team—a devoted crew of industry clairvoyants who also know how to party. The label’s national concert series, the Dirtybird BBQ, draws enthusiastic crowds in select cities across the country. This October, the Dirtybird Campout will make its first pit stop here in LA. There’s a big-kid theme going on here, and it’s working.
LA CANVAS: We know what 10 years of Dirtybird Records look like—hosting some of the biggest events with the most talented artists out there—all while keeping the spirit of the original Golden Gate parties alive. What does the success actually feel like?
Claude VonStroke: I feel a little bit wiser, older. I still make huge mistakes and I still have big wins, so nothing has changed on that front. I think a lot more people know us now so it’s not as much of a struggle to get a record heard. It feels good to me. Label work can be a real grind, but I enjoy the business part as much as the creative end.
LAC: Hip Hop is a big part of the Dirtybird label and it carries a huge influence on its sound, yet your artists are big names in the house + techno genre. What’s the deal?
CVS: It’s what I got started in. I am a huge fan and that’s the entire story. A few of the other guys are also huge fans. Mostly ’80s–’90s stuff really gets me. I’m doing some of it under my real name starting this year.
LAC: Artists like Justin Martin, Kill Frenzy, Justin Jay, and J.Phlip are making waves. What’s the A&R process like for you?
CVS: The process is so simple. I listen to all the demos. I pick out what I like and test it in the club. That’s it. Usually, I develop someone further if they look like a hard worker who fits into our fun family really well.
LAC: We’re excited for the Dirtybird Campout this fall. We hear there will be activity badges and camp games to accompany the killer music roster. How did you conceptualize it?
CVS: This is going to be a really fun event. We aren’t just throwing in a tug of war—you will really be able to feel like it’s your summer camp from when you were a kid… plus techno! There are merit badges, fishing, games, comedians, tons of awesome DJs, and more. It will be a really great experience for both the fans and us.
LAC: You partnered with The Do LaB, who put on Lightning in a Bottle every year. Score.
CVS: They’re so perfectly set up for this. LIB is one of my favorite festivals.
For the insane Dirtybird Campoout lineup and more deets on what crazy camp games are in store, click right here.
LAC: It’s a big year for you personally. Tell us a bit about your EP, Barrump, and what its been like to remix for Rihanna and The Chemical Brothers.
CVS: It’s crazy. I’ve been getting more music out than usual this year. I’m doing another huge artist’s remix at the moment as well. I also have a few other songs already done! Green Velvet and I will most likely be getting down to business on some music this fall for Get Real. For me, the music is the point, so I put as much time into the music part of it as possible. If you don’t have the music, you don’t have anything. It’s all just Facebook posts and fake marketing garbage without the tunes.
LAC: What artist(s) do you want to work with that you haven’t tapped yet?
CVS: Nobody in house music really. I’m already working with the greatest, Green Velvet. As far as hip hop and my Barclay Crenshaw music project, the list is more like the bible: long.
LAC: What are some tracks you’re currently into?
CVS: Justin Jay, “Hit It”; Billy Kenny, “I Eat Beats (Ardalan Remix)”; Will Clarke, “808 Frenzy”; Rod Fussy, “Warm Up Voice.”
LAC: Favorite time during a production would be…
CVS: The moment I realize the track is going to work out.