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Interview with Claude VonStroke

Interview with Claude VonStroke

by Marcos Colón
09.20.2010
One of the most recognizable labels in electronic music to come out of the U.S. in recent years has been the San Francisco based dirtybird Records. If you go and visit their Beatport page, you'll not only be wowed by the production of each and every track, but you'll also be perplexed by what your ears are taking in. Is it house? Is it electro? Is it techno? Do you here some funk and hip-hop in there as well? The overall feel-good vibe has lead to the great success of their main DJ/producer, Claude VonStroke (aka Barclay Crenshaw).

We recently chatted with Barclay while he was on a short break in his San Francisco home, prior to taking off on a short U.S. tour. He's definitely one of the nicest characters in electronic music, and if there's one thing we got from this interview, it's that you'll never know what to expect from his releases throughout the year. They're really not timed at all.


CoolJunkie: So how’s the year been treating you so far?

Claude VonStroke:
Great.

CoolJunkie: What’s been keeping you the busiest lately?

Claude VonStroke:
Lately it’s been touring. That’s been the busiest.

CoolJunkie: What markets have you been hitting up?

Claude VonStroke:
Well I was a resident at Space Ibiza. I worked twice within the last four weeks which was a lot for me to go all the way to Ibiza from San Francisco. I’ve been to France a couple times, England of course a bunch. I’m about to go to do a little U.S. stint of Miami, Chicago and New York.

CoolJunkie: How do you schedule your year if you’re traveling so much? When do you find your time to produce? Do you like doing that when you’re out on the road or when you’re back in San Fran?

Claude VonStroke:
I wish I could produce when I’m on the road but I’m not good at it. I just don’t, I can’t do it in headphones. So I just do it when I’m here. I’m a really slow producer. I mean, I have stuff coming all the time but it’s not like I have 15 things a year. I maybe have five things a year. I’m just slow.

CoolJunkie: Now as far as the Golden Gate Park Dirty Bird Parties go, can you describe those for some of the people that can’t make it out but always read up on them?

Claude VonStroke:
This is the 8th season so it’s like three years older than the label even and it’s a free party that we put on and we pay for it from our club night proceeds and we cook carne asada and put up a big sound system in Golden Gate Park and just play our music for whoever wants to show up and at this point we don’t even announce it. (laughs) We still get like a thousand people to show up. It’s like we can’t even announce it. If we announced it, it would be out of control I think. It’s really fun. There’s kids, dogs, people with hoola-hoops, like everything you can imagine from San Francisco. People just walking by come in, our dedicated fans are there, just everybody. It’s a good, fun, day party that doesn’t really have any pretentious vibe going on, you know? It’s really fun.

CoolJunkie: That’s in the summer time?

Claude VonStroke:
Yeah it’s only in the summer. We usually schedule six and then it usually ends up being about four if it rains or something you never know what’s gonna happen or if permits get pulled, ya know it’s always kinda crazy.

CoolJunkie: Now, you travel all over the world and you play some of the biggest clubs for some of the best markets for electronic music now what areyour thoughts on the current state of electronic music in the U.S.?

Claude VonStroke:
It’s actually blowing up right now like more than I expected. I mean it has something to do with maybe the cheesier names being super popular, but it’s actually trickling down. Trickle-down economics...80s (laughs). It’s actually workin’ out for everyone. Deadmau5 is helpin’ everyone (laughs).

CoolJunkie: That was my next question. What do you think of a  guy like David Guetta who’s impacting commercial radio? Do you think it’s a good thing or a bad thing?

Claude VonStroke:
Totally good. I don’t like the music, but it’s like in the early 80s when I started listening to hip-hop. As soon as Run DMC and Aerosmith made that track, this is kind of an example, maybe it wasn’t like a hip-hop purist's idea of great music but you could just see the doors cracking open forthe genre you know what I mean? And then once there’s really successful people at the top of the market, it makes it easier for everyone, even the cool guys or the guys that think they’re cool (laughs).

CoolJunkie: Now what’s the latest news with your Mothership label?

Claude VonStroke:
We have this sick Cats and Dogs second album coming out in October. It’s kind of an all-genre album. It’s got R&B, disco, techno,house. I wouldn’t say hip-hop but it’s like that Roy Orbinson influenced stuff kind of on there. It’s got a lot of styles, it’s really cool.

CoolJunkie: When it comes to the dirtybird guys, you guys seem like a pretty close-knitgroup. What do you think sets you guys apart from all of those other labels in the electronic community?

Claude VonStroke:
I was just talking about this with someone. We’re one of the few labels that’s kind of like a bridge between ravers and super-underground stuff. I also feel like we have our own sound that's kind of a San Francisco based style which is hard to explain but the key is that it’s usually fun. Even the melancholy stuff is like feel-good melancholy (laughs).

CoolJunkie: Now what are some of your favorite markets to play outside of the US?

Claude VonStroke:
I really like France for some reason. Everyone says that France is terrible to play in but I always have a great time. I like France, Ilike the UK, I like Germany sometimes. I mean there’s no bad territory, I don’t play so much in some territories but I like ‘em all. I like Ireland.

CoolJunkie: So what else can we look forward to from you for the remainder the year?

Claude VonStroke:
I don’t know (laughs). I just had that Chili Gonzalez remix come out but, here’s a perfect example of what a Dirtybird move is like. I put a dark techno remix on Planet E and a fun, hip-hop remix on Blazin’ Ice in the same month and that’s kind like where I like to sit, just undefined inthe middle. But I don’t actually have anything coming out on the schedule because I’m going to be making some hip-hop beats for a few months. Just taking a break, and then I’ll go back. Maybe…no just kidding (laughs). No I’ll probably do a remix on Dirty Bird somewhere in there and maybe I’ll have a single... who knows.

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