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Claude VonStroke is coming to Ibiza

A candid chat with the DIRTYBIRD boss

Claude VonStroke has been at the forefront of house production for more than a decade, with releases like 'Deep Throat', 'Who's Afraid Of Detroit?' and most recently 'The Rain Break' earning him international recognition. But it's perhaps his free-spirited approach to music production and events, and his visible joie de vivre that he's most well-known for - this guy likes a good time, and it shows. This year he's limited his trips to Europe, concentrating instead on new projects and the super successful Dirtybird Campouts - his sold out festivals that have taken the US by storm. Ahead of his only gig in Ibiza this year - at Paradise at DC-10 on Wednesday 13 July - we caught up with the DIRTYBIRD boss to talk festivals, record labels and going AWOL on the White Isle.


You've only got one date in Ibiza this year, at Paradise at DC-10, what keeps you coming back?

“I just love it. I've been going to Ibiza since maybe 2006 and I've played almost everywhere, but I think DC-10 is definitely the place. It's good that they still have somewhere where they're playing underground music and it's not completely cheesed out, because I feel like the island is going to cheese out a little bit when Space closes. I wish I was coming over more this summer, I just had to pick my battles”.

Is there any particular reason you're not playing here more?

“Every year I break my balls to go to Europe in the summer and do five Ibiza shows, and this year I thought I could just cut that from my schedule for one year and do an entire album and get something else going on that's really interesting to me. It's unfortunate because I won't have my name out in the ether this year - it's hard to stay relevant - so it's probably a bad move on that end but I actually feel like the music I'm making under my real name is even more accessible to a wider group of people than even the Claude VonStroke stuff. Make no mistake I still love house music but I've been doing that for a while so I want to do something else."

What is this second project? You're working under your real name of Barclay Crenshaw, right?

“Originally I got into hip-hop - that was my first love. Plus drum and bass and all that kind of stuff - so I'm going back to that. It's slower and it's weirder. I'm going to come out with a whole project that'll probably be done in August, and then we'll see what label it's going to be on and it might take a few months after that to get it out. It's a whole other thing, I'm really into it because I just fell into house music because it was fun and all the girls were going to house parties and I was pretty good at it. I wanted to be a drum and bass DJ when I first started but nobody cared about drum and bass in America, so there was no point even getting into it. It was the time when everybody kind of went away from dnb because it got so evil - remember when dnb got so evil?! So I got into house and as you can tell we tried to work that hip-hop and dnb into our house for years. I was like, man I'm getting old, why don't I just do the thing that I want to do? I'm going to keep going with CVS of course, because I love it, but I'm definitely excited about the new project”.

I was listening to some of your more recent tracks like 'Mind Yo Bizness' with Green Velvet, can you tell me a bit about how that came about?

“We've been working together for a couple of years. Green Velvet and I just played together, kind of by accident in Miami three years ago, and it went so well that we decided to make it into a touring project in America. We only do it at big festivals and we play together and then we made a couple of tracks for it, and released an EP. We wanted to have a real hybrid sound between us, so it's like funky and spacy and weird. It's cool.”

You've had some great artists breaking through on Dirtybird, who really stands out for you

“We broke Julio Bashmore and released his first records. A lot of people have come through our label and at some point they realise - especially the guys from Europe - that they might have to do stuff outside of the label to get bigger, which I totally understand because we're very American, but if you really look at all the people that have come through our label, the likes of Riva Starr, Tim Green, Eats Everything, Breach - all these people have come through Dirtybird.”

What about new artists you guys have signed, anyone we should look out for?

“Yeah, there's a bunch of people, a whole new generation. There's a couple of guys in LA that are really new - Sisak and Dateless - they're two different and really new artists that I think they're really talented. Will Clarke is doing really well and Shiba San is playing over at Amnesia.”

You've also started your own festival - The Dirtybird Campout, how did that come about?

“I basically willed this thing into reality. I made a flyer that said, 'Dirtybird Campout – all your favourite DJs in the world' - and I put a picture of a lake and a mountain on it and I posted it on Facebook. It had the most views of any post in the history of our record label - something like five hundred thousand views. So I said okay, now we really have to do it. But because I posted that the company that I originally got a no from (Do-Lab) saw it and their event had just fallen through and so they called me and said, 'Hey, we've seen you just posted this flyer - do you still want to do it together?' And I just said 'Oh my god, thank you – yes!' We put together an entire festival in less than three months and it was amazing”.

So what's the idea behind the whole thing?

“The whole concept of it is to have it be like an American summer camp. When you're 12 over here you go to summer camp and you play stupid games and you go sailing and shoot arrows and build fires - so that was the whole vibe of it. We didn't know if anyone was going to play the games - we made 48 games or something - but everyone did it. We had one stage of music or you're playing games. We also had a comedy show and all of this extra weird stuff, it was super fun.”

You also have the Dirtybird BBQs in loads of different cities across the US, tell me a bit about that?

“We've been doing that for almost 15 years now but we only took it travelling maybe four or five years ago, and since we did Campout we sort of borrowed some of the concepts from that. So now we have carnival games and we're doing a real BBQ instead of just giving away a bunch of crappy free hamburgers, we've got ribs, BBQ chicken that kind of stuff. They're single day events, except for Detroit where we've gotten this unbelievable location, which is an island in the middle of Detroit. It's called Belle Isle and it's just the best location ever.”

I hear one lucky camper will partner you in a boat race this year? Who is going to be Counsellor Claude's companion and what did you have to do to get on the water?

“You had to make an internet meme about the Campout, the winning was really funny. So there's these little row boats and we have boat races and it's pretty funny because people are smoking weed and going in the wrong direction - it's all about participation!”

So finally, I hear that Ibiza holds a special place in your heart and that you've a reputation for going AWOL when you get here - care to elaborate?

“I don't know, I mean I disappear sometimes for a couple of days, it's happened. There's lots of stupid shit I've done in Ibiza! I woke up on the side of the road one day with a sign pinned to my shirt about how to walk to the closest village and then I went on this whole three-day adventure from there. That's the craziest story - I was climbing over walls, running into people, ending up in DJ booths I shouldn't have been in. I feel like it's a place where you're either on it or you're not on it. You're either on a roll that you should just go with or you just can't make it happen. It's hard to live there, especially because everyone wants to go out all the time!”


WORDS | David Fleming

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