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Urban Animal: Claude VonStroke

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Claude Vonstroke rose to fame overnight back in 2005 with his inimitable brand of fun and playful house music. His debut EP “Deep Throat” was a huge success as was the even more popular follow up EP “Who’s Afraid Of Detroit?”. Claude Vonstroke (Barclay Crenshaw) laboured on and in 2006 released his debut album “Beware Of The Bird” that heralded his emergence as an influential cog in the EDM wheel. In 2005, Crenshaw established Dirtybird records as he and a nucleus of close friends including brothers Christian and Justin Martin set out to develop the San Francisco house scene. Since 2005 Claude Vonstroke has taken his Dirtybird label to Ibiza for a weekly residency, mixed a Fabric compilation, released in excess of 70 EPs, released 2 albums and weathered a staggering tour schedule.

Crenshaw’s daily life was completely inverted after the release of “Who’s Afraid Of Detroit?” and the inception of Dirtybird, following a topsy-turvy film career prior to music. A slightly fanatical approach to the running of Dirtybird records as well as founding Mothership, a sister label with considerable charitable links, are signs of his gratitude for the heights he has been able to achieve. Prior endeavours have subtly referenced Crenshaw’s personal tastes in music and past musical history. His forthcoming album, “Urban Animal”, however offers a more insightful foray into the tastes and persona of the man behind Claude Vonstroke. The traditional formula of bass-heavy, playful house music is visited less often than one would expect and a heterogenous menu of electronic genres offered up instead.

As the summer draws to a close and the Balearic dust begins to settle the Dirtybird residency at Sankeys in Ibiza has all but ended and Claude Vonstroke’s next assignment is to promote his forthcoming album in North America. We were fortunate enough to catch him before he left Europe for an in-depth chat about everything from the forthcoming album to work-life balances. 

The first Dirtybird residency has just come to an end. Why since starting the label eight years ago are we only now seeing the label on the island (Ibiza)?

It’s interesting as we are the only American label here. It’s not just like a slam-dunk to come into Ibiza as an American and try to do a night. It’s very Euro-centric so it took a while.

In what way?

It’s a really cliquey, political island. There’s a system in place and you have to just work your way into the system.

Sad, though political obstacles have been rife on the island for years. Have you any particularly memorable experiences to share from the summer?

Yeah, Kazantip was amazing. It was just an unusual experience. It was kind of in the middle of nowhere and I didn’t know what to expect. We closed the whole festival with the Dirtybird stage and it was really cool. Oh yeah, and I went and saw Dilinja before I went on. That’s one of my heroes. He was in another tent, then he came over and gave me a high five during my set and that was fucking awesome.

The Dirtybird showcase at Kazantip had a similarly strong line-up to the residency line-ups in Ibiza. Who compiles the line-ups?

I put them all together. We brought every single person, pretty much, who has put a record out on Dirtybird to Ibiza, which was crazy. I would never do that again. It was a really good way though for me to see everyone and how they play. Someone I thought played really good was KINK, but that was more of a special appearance.

Why would you not get all of the artists together again?

Just because I realised that this kind of island is more about the brand names and bringing like seventeen people that  many may never have heard of is not necessarily the smartest thing you can do. It seems you should just bring the heavies every week. 

That must be disappointing, to a degree, when you wanted to showcase the artists from your label.

I don’t think it was a bad idea… actually, I do think it was a bad idea, but I don’t think it was a bad thing. I’m glad we did it. We learnt a lot of stuff.

Continued on page 2

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