For any electronic dance music lover in the know, DJ/producer Claude VonStroke and his esteemed Dirtybird and Mothership labels have become synonymous with some of the most forward-thinking and fun-loving sounds coming out of the American EDM scene in the new millennium. A Detroit native with roots in drum 'n' bass, VonStroke (born Barclay Crenshaw) relocated to the house music boomtown of San Francisco in the early '00s, where he teamed up with fellow visionary Justin Martin to launch Dirtybird.
They have since cranked out nonstop banging releases, including contributions by the likes of Sascha Braemer, Tim Green, Riva Starr and Catz 'n Dogz, all boasting a signature sound that blends the most jacking and floor-smashing aspects of tech-house, electro and bass music.
In 2007 VonStroke would follow up the success of Dirtybird with the launch of a second imprint, Mothership, which besides striking gold as another successful independent label specializing in cutting-edge underground EDM, also serves as a charitable effort. Mothership donates a big percentage of its proceeds to music education for underprivileged youth in Detroit.
Apart from his A&R and original production accolades, VonStroke has
also cemented his reputation as a world-class DJ, having played to
audiences across the globe, including regular appearances at the Detroit
Electronic Music Festival and Winter Music Conference in Miami each
year. You can catch the eminent Mr. VonStroke at the Electric
Pickle this Friday, where he'll be throwing down with another very
special guest, esteemed German deep house specialist Dixon.
one of the most candid and down-to-earth EDM artists out there, we
relished an opportunity to catch up with VonStroke in anticipation of
his Miami performance on Friday. Read the full Q&A after the jump.
VonStroke with Dixon. 10 p.m.
Friday, August 13. Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Ages 21
and up. 305-456-5613; electricpicklemiami.com
did a Detroit dude end up in San Francisco and how has the move there
shaped your sound and that of your labels?
I followed a girl
who actually never even made it out here. Once I got here I never left. I
would say this city showed me how to have fun instead of just making
music for guys in hooded sweatshirts. I was way into super dark drum 'n'
bass and eventually I realized how to use that knowledge and make some
music that people could have fun with.
How did you first hook
up with Justin Martin and what can you tell us about your creative
I met Justin through his older brother
Christian who i had done some video project with. Justin was bartending
and I would go in and hang out at the bar and shoot the shit. He had
just started making house music and I was making my house and techno DVD
project. So Justin ended up doing a lot of music on the DVD and we
became friends with common goals. I started out managing Justin when he
signed his first music which also became motivation for me to try and
make my own house tunes and release them
Your official bio
says you're "grateful to be doing music for a living". A lot of artists
out there seem to take their fortune for granted. To what do you
attribute your professional success and what can you tell us about your
journey from proverbial nobody to internationally renowned star?
started with big dreams, big balls, tons of ambition and a strong dose
of not giving a shit about what everyone else was doing. It was really
my girlfriend (now wife) that made the dreams possible. She paid all my
expenses for a year and told me to really go for it. Not just kind of do
it, but really really go for it 200%. I took it to heart and here we
You color significantly outside the lines when it
comes to your own production work, and it seems like you draw as much
from hip hop and bass music as you do from four-on-the-floor house and
techno. Where do you get your inspiration and who are your long-standing
I like it this way. For example last
month I released a dark techy remix on Planet E and a fun hip hop style
remix on Boys Noize. I don't know if anyone else is making broad strokes
like this but that is what I'm all about. Going from one thing to
another, just searching out good music whether it be house, hip hop,
drum 'n' bass, reggae, funk, whatever. I like to be able to play with
Matthew Dear AND Diplo. My influences pretty much show through in my
stuff. It's James Brown, drum 'n' bass, Detroit techno, '80s hip hop,
'70s funk, etc.
As a producer who is decidedly pushing the
boundaries of genre and hybridizing musical styles, do you think this
approach is the key to the future?
I don't think about the
key to the future so much -- all I think about is what I want to hear on
the dancefloor. And this is what really sends me down the rabbit hole
into all these different sounds and ideas.
How do you
normally approach your production work and what is your typical process
in the studio?
I start slow and finish slow. I will go
through something 200 times just to get the groove correct and the EQs
down. I start with the idea most times but every once and a while I just
get a super hot beat going and I'll go off of that.
people know about the charitable efforts behind your Mothership label,
but to us it's a bit deal. What can you tell us about it?
support Youthville in Detroit. It's just a really cool program for
Detroit area kids who might not have tons of dough. The coolest part of
it is that they teach actual skills like how to make tracks on modern
software and how to be a video editor -- stuff you can't even learn at
regular school. They only charge the kids something like $25 a year and
they rely on sponsors like us to keep it going.
extensively around the world, which are some of your top party
destinations and why?
Lots of places are great. Leeds,
Dublin, Montpelier, Paris, London, Glasgow, Chicago, Detroit -- and of
course San Francisco rules. The why of it is mainly cause these are
places where I felt in sync with the people. They got what I was trying
to do and gave me back their love and energy. I didn't have to fight
them to play my sound.
What have been some of the highlights
of 2010 so far and what do you have going on for the rest of the year?
Detroit festival was definitely the best gig this year and I probably
played better there than anywhere else. For the rest of the year, I have
gigs all over the place plus I am doing some new beats. My "Percolator"
remix should be out in a couple weeks on Cajual as well.
can Miami expect during your upcoming performance with Dixon at the
Ah, Dixon -- cool. I've been seeing him a
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lot on the road recently. Great guy. I dunno what to expect until I show
up and see what's going on with the crowd. I'm sure it will be fun as