Claude VonStroke, otherwise known as Barclay Crenshaw, is the head of the San Francisco-based record label, Dirty Bird. A product of the internet generation, Crenshaw saw his first tufts of fame through an instructional DVD on how to be a DJ — growing up, young Barclay was determined to make it as a hip-hop DJ; as this dream began to take on a new name, house music, he decided to make a video that would have answered all the questions he had as a young’n. In the process of filming DJs from around the world, he also learned a lot about running his own music label.
Dirty Bird’s signature blend of hip-hop inspired, jacking tech-house beats vibrate the speakers of clubs all around the world. The label gained it’s notoriety through Crenshaw’s ‘Deep Throat’ back in 2005, and traces it’s roots to an original push of promotion through the European dance music scene. It wasn’t long before the recognition trickled its way back into the states as people sought after these bass heavy, Cali-grown beats. With an impressive roster of artists that are making waves in their own right, it’s no wonder this group of tech-house savants can’t manage to put out a bad record. Release after release, they have proved their name, and the future shows no boundaries for these dirty birds!
We had a chance to catch up with Barclay right before his gig at the infamous Control down in LA. Check out the interview after the jump!
CYV: Since summer is around the corner, and you’ve already welcomed the change with one of your infamous Dirtybird BBQs, I’d like to start things off and ask some questions about those. How’d they get started? Tell us a little bit about them.
Claude VonStroke: Christian Martin put a full sound system on his credit card and we found a field in Golden Gate park and just set up. You really have to give him credit he would not let this dream die. Being a business man i would have probably squashed this idea at some point but i’m glad Christian really pushed it through and we are still doing it because it is really special. It used to cost us $25 to get a “lunch” permit. Now it’s upwards of 4 grand to put on the event but we still do it free for the people. They have changed over the years rom family only to more public events. Its a lot harder to keep them on the down low with facebook and twitter.
CYV: Who’s responsible for all the tasty food? (And how does one manage to give it all away for free!?)
CvS: We’ve had the same chef for all 9 years. Chris “Grillson” Wilson. We love Grillson he comes out without fail. We give him a budget and he gets 100 pounds of carne or whatever we are cooking that day. The assistant chef is Justin and Christians Dad! Their parents flyover from Hawaii for every park party and he chops fresh salsa and makes fresh guac for literally 6 hours straight without stopping. It’s amazing. People really give us alot of love. We couldn’t do this event without their help. As for how it is free. We pay for it. All the proceeds from our massive indoor club night goto putting on this event for free so you could say we play 8 times a year in SF and none of us make any money – thats for all you haters who think we are killing you charging 10-15 buck for our club night!
CYV: How would you compare the last one to the past summer kick-off parties?
CvS: This one was a little bit too big i have to say (a good problem to have). It was soooo impressive to see more than 2000 people and i loved playing our sound for everyone. The unfortunate part was that the park also noticed how many people were there. We are still negotiating with them but in the end it’s going to cost us alot more money to do more park parties. Even so, the attendance was amazing and it goes to show how much positive feedback we get in our hometown.
CYV: How has living in San Francisco (and California for that matter) inspired your music?
CvS: It’s really hard to quantify how much each place has inspired my music. I will say that the overall creative attitude here and with my friends has really helped me evolve. People might be surprised to hear it but i still take classes on making music like every other month so i’m always learning. I still want to put out the nest music and i dont want any technology to get in the way so i study study study! The Bay Area has a really cool vibe to it. People here understand Bass music. I liken it to the town of Bristol in the UK. People just get it.
CYV: Do you think your location has also been responsible for the sound of Dirtybird?
CvS: Again, tough to say but definitely i wouldn’t have dirtybird without the support of my friends and family so yes, if i were anywhere else we might have a totally different label. But for some reason i still think there would be a record label no matter where i was living.
CYV: What is going to separate Krush Groov from Dirtybird?
CvS: Krush Groov is for me to experiment at different tempos, to flush out my Grizzl alias. I didn’t want to just drop some 140bpm music on dirtybird and have everyone be like…oh no, dirtybird is now a dubstep label. Krush Groov isnt even a dubstep label but the point is that it is going somewhere different in bass music. More modern, more juke, more hyped, more hip-hop. I just saw Gaslamp Killer the other day. He blew my mind. I don’t want to be limited to house anymore but people need to hear house and dirtybird when CVS shows up. it’s unfair to drop a whole different sound on them when they paid to see me as VonStroke. I hate when people do that. So we have Krush Groov as a different outlet..
CYV: Can you please tell us more about this new project?
CvS: Not really. So far it’s vinyl only and i’m just doing tracks i am really passionate about. Just straight from the heart with no concern for any genre. Stay tuned.
CYV: How did your relationship with the Martin brothers start?
CvS: Pretty random chance i’d say. My mom was visiting the bay from Detroit and she went shopping up in Marin. In one of the shops she met this lady who was the mother of a guy living in SF. They chatted it up and it turned out that both of their sons were working in video. So my Mom made the connect and i met up with this guy named Seth. Seth was working on a music video for Dice Raw of the roots but he needed help with some post production and i was working at a high end post house at the time downtown. Long story Short, Seth came by the post house where i was working and he brought along Christian Martin (who was the writer of the music video.) We all hit it off and eventually i met Justin who had just started making music. Seth eventually moved to New York and we are also still budz.
CYV: Who are a couple producers / DJs that stood out for you in the past year?
CvS: The new stuff from Justin is so sick I cant wait for people to hear it. We also have some new stuff from Breach (Ben Westbeach) and it is also super sick. I love the Catz n Dogz material almost always but i really think Ramadanman is the king right now.
CYV: Who would you collaborate with (musically) if you could pick anybody?
CvS: The Fat Boys
CYV: What is your favorite place to eat in SF?
CvS: Right now it would be Pico over in Larkspur cuz i moved out to the burbs!
CYV: Your favorite club/place to drop tunes in SF?
CvS: Mezzanine, where we do our party. Although i’d make a case for the sound at a few other joints.
CYV: Finish this sentence: The
early bird dirty bird gets the _________________.
CvS: The dirty bird gets the check at the end of dinner.
Thanks Barclay, we really appreciate you taking some time out of your day to answer our questions!