In this day and age of music cross-pollination, Claude VonStroke sits at the forefront of all that is good, proper and most importantly fun. He’s just as at home remixing Kenny Larkin or London Grammar as he is dropping multiple underground hits. DJ wise, his relentless touring of every major city, festival and basement after-party around the world has only enriched this unique perspective on music.
As the owner of the record label, DIRTYBIRD, VonStroke also built an impeccable A&R roster signing acts like Justin Martin, Julio Bashmore, Catz n Dogz, Riva Starr, Tim Green, Breach, Eats Everything, Shadow Child & Shiba San well before they broke out of their hometown scenes. (and even naming a few of these artists.) Today, the DIRTYBIRD label continues to surprise and innovate in the underground dance scene, releasing an enigmatic combination of house, funk, dirty-bass and electronica.
Celebrating 10 years of DIRTYBIRD, Claude VonStroke and crew will be throwing a slew of events around the world, from their infamous DIRTYBIRD BBQ to their DIRTYBIRD Campouts. Claude has also put together the official DIRTYBIRD BBQ compilation ‘Grill $on’s Revenge‘ (available now) and will be joining Jamie Jones, Art Department, Skream, and more at Jones’ Paradise at Ibiza’s DC10 on 26 August.
With all this going on we feel lucky to have found a few moments to speak with Claude VonStroke on 10 years of DIRTYBIRD, interesting new collaborative projects, balancing DJing with a family, and much more.
“I never want to settle in.”
With DIRTYBIRD celebrating its ten-year anniversary this year, what have you found the most challenging aspect of maintaining such longevity within the scene? Was there ever an aspect of being a label boss you anticipated as being difficult when you first started, yet turned out to be smoother/easier than expected?
Artwork is the thing that slows us down the most. Mastering can go really wrong but can also really help. Royalty accounting is a nightmare, but the thing I thought would be the hardest that is actually the easiest is finding the music. I think i just know when the music is right and I never really second guess myself. I thought it would be a lot harder to do that part of it.
When did it dawn on you that 2015 was the 10th anniversary of DIRTYBIRD? When did you start thinking/planning the way you will celebrate such a milestone?
I actually thought the year before was the anniversary but my wife had to show me the math. I’m terrible with dates. I am always thinking about the label so the planning wasn’t so different from other years except for the fact that we did a few more label events this year.
Speaking of celebrating, how are you celebrating the label’s anniversary?
By playing tons of shows and making even more new music!
Can you identify certain seminal moments over the last 10 years that have brought DIRTYBIRD to where it is now?
When ‘Deep Throat’ became a hit on vinyl that was when i knew we would make it past the first year. When I finished my second album, ‘Bird Brain’ and also when Justin turned in his first album “Ghettos and Gardens”. Also the last free Golden Gate BBQ was insane about 4 or 5 years ago.
In terms of relevancy, how often does such a concept enter your mind as a label head? Do you find the pursuit of relevancy within the ever-changing definition of the digital age to be counter intuitive toward the primary ethos of a label? How do you ensure DIRTYBIRD, as well as yourself as an artist, maintain relevancy?
I don’t insure that we remain relevant in fact you could say my strategy is quite risky. I just sign the music I think is good. I don’t follow trends or change our thing to be like something else that is popular at the moment. One thing I’m looking at right now is that our current merchandise has a kind of trend following vibe to it that I don’t like. Thats something I’m going to work on. I don’t want to make a shirt because everyone is wearing it right now. Thats not really how we operate.