Claude VonStroke Cracks Wise as the Dirtybird BBQ Rolls into HARD's Day of the Dead
Plus! Find out how to get signed to the champion West Coast house label
Over the past few years, the Dirtybird label has become the voice of West Coast house with a sound that's deep, soulful, playful, catchy and partial to bouts of techy weirdness. It was only a few years ago, though, that label head Claude VonStroke spent more time abroad than stateside in search of wanting ears.
In a 2008 interview with RA in Berlin, Claude referred to the U.S as "a following market." That's not the case any longer. "Since 2008, everything has changed 100%," Claude tells THUMP. "But it's just completely different. I can't even compare the eras. Then, it was following. Now, it's not following, but it's not necessarily leading. It's totally going as its own thing...I know I've had more fun playing in America this year, for sure. It's fun, people get it. The people have kind of come around to us here, and they understand what we're trying to do. We're in a really sweet spot right now for Dirtybird in America."
Some of that sweet spot has been wrought by the crew's roving Dirtybird BBQ tour. They've trekked from Brooklyn, through Detroit, and all the way to their San Francisco homebase so far. This weekend, they'll descend upon L.A when the barbecue mobs its own stage at HARD's Day of the Dead. "I think this BBQ tour is one of the best things we've ever done. The vibe has been amazing," says Claude. "We were really concerned at the start because the barbecue in Golden Gate Park was a free party we had done for 10 years. The only way we could continue it was to make it a paid event, because it's just not sustainable otherwise. We were really concerned that we would lose some of the personality, but that didn't happen. It ended up being really vibey and really fun and family-oriented...We just go the party and hang out and eat barbecue and hang out with our buddies. It's nice. Our fans are good people."
The crew are saving the biggest brouhaha for last, though. "I have no idea how this is gonna go," laughs Claude. "I know how we want it to go, and I hope it goes like that – Which is just kind of the same vibe. We're having Grillson. Eats Everything wants to have a face-painter there. We know as much as everybody else!"
Above: The Grillmaster himself: Grillson // Below: Scenes from the San Francisco edition.
One thing is for certain: The crew will be joined by Cajmere. "We're buddies and he's awesome," says Claude. "I'm always excited when he's a part of it. He's a great guy. We're gonna do a project next year called Get Real, Claude VonStroke and Green Velvet, a back-to-back thing."
This year will continue a long streak of Dirtybird presence at HARD events. "My first was probably HARD Summer three or four years ago," says Claude. "Gary [Richards] has always been really cool with Dirtybird, so we always get good stages, nice timeslots. Gary's a good promoter because he will just go on what he thinks is good instead of what maybe the market is telling him. He'll be like, 'this guy is better than that guy, so he's getting the better timeslot, I don't care who's more famous."
And hey, as long as we're here. I'll help you out. This is how you get signed to Dirtybird, in the words of Claude VonStroke: "I only care about the tracks. I don't know what they look like, who they are, but I pick out the tracks and I start talking to them. If someone keeps sending in good tracks and they fit in with us, then they're in with us. It's hard, but it's not impossible. The only way you can get in is by making a cool track."
The Dirtybird BBQ stage is Sunday at HARD's Day of the Dead. It features: Christian Martin, Kill Frenzy, J. Phlip, Shiba San, Catz n' Dogz, Cajmere, Eats Everything, Justin Martin, and Claude VonStroke.
Jemayel Khawaja is THUMP's Managing Editor - @JemayelK
All photos courtesy of Dirtybird.