Claude VonStroke interview

Ahead of his show at Night Flight in Dublin this Friday, I got the chance to talk to the dirty bird himself, Mr Barclay Crenshaw, aka Claude VonStroke…

Where did the bird thing come from? Dirtybird, Beware of The Bird, Bird Brain
The label had been named Dirtybird by chance based on a drawing i used to do when i was a kid. Then I had an idea to call my album Beware of the Bird. Then as soon as i thought of that title I got the idea to buy this giant bird mascot costume. It was just like a set of dominoes… one bird leads to another right down the line.

You’ve done a lot to make techno more “fun” – since ice cool minimal seems to be on the way out, what do you think is coming next?
I don’t really care because i don’t ride the trends. I play whatever I think is the best music being made. The next thing coming is probably more crap, more posers, more critics fawning over so-so stuff… and then there will of course be one or two genuine pearls in that bucket of clams somewhere.

Is there anything more to come from The Grizzl? That remix of Franz Ferdinand was pretty mind-melting. Or is it like some of your other aliases, a once-off thing?
I’m actually concentrating on that alias this year almost exclusively. Definitely look for some more Grizzl this year.

What was really interesting about your Fabric mix was the way in which you layered tracks together, as for example the Dinamoe and Claro Moto tracks really came together to give each other a sense of warmth and excitement. How long do you spend thinking about that kind of thing? Or is it more something that happens by chance?
I’d love to say it all came together easily and organically, but i went through about 2000 tracks. I worked my ass off on that mix. The point was to make a statement about what music I think is the best in a flowing, easy to listen to experience. Some people got it more than others. It’s safe to say that if you didn’t like the CD you should stay away from my music in general because I thought that was a pretty good summary of my styles.

I found Magda‘s Fabric to be a delightful mix for the same reason – what mixes out there floated your boat in 2009?
I wish I had the time to listen to a bunch of mixes but I rarely get a free 70 minutes of uninterrupted time like that.

Who do you think are the peope who will make a big splash in 2010?
Last year seemed like the preparation for house to take over the king’s chair. So probably some people who make house. God forbid it be an American… I mean we invented the genre but you’d never know it. Some of these bigger DJs (who play American-style house) refuse to even come here.

California is very important to you. How does it feel being away on the road?
It’s a love/hate relationship. Love the parties, hate the 15 hours it takes to get there. Love seeing the world, hate being away from my kids. Yin/yang type thing. Far more good than bad of course.

Speaking of On The Road, obviously Kerouac and co were quite big names in your neck of the woods. When you’re traveling, how do you occupy your time – reading, vegging out, movies, other?
I actually just veg out a lot and unwind my head. Otherwise i read magazines and watch films.

You’ve kept a pretty exciting blog of your recent travels – is writing a path you’d ever consider outside of music?
I used to write a lot in college and won some fiction awards. I even wrote a couple of crappy screenplays at one point. I would consider doing more of it but I would never force it. The opportunity would have to be right.

Jori Hulkkonen recently wrote a polemic on Turbo’s website complaining about the rise in the use by artists of the likes of Facebook and Twitter, claiming it demystifies the artistic process and that, in his own words, “I don’t like ordinary people” – what do you make of that attitude? Certainly technology has done a lot to humanise “celebrities”, and that can be a good thing in terms of reducing the aura around fame, but at the same time it can create a false sense of familiarity that I imagine might be uncomfortable if fans don’t know where the line is anymore…
That is fascinating as I was reading something similar to this in a hip-hop magazine that was saying some artists were being dropped from their labels for “overexposure” due to constant internet updates. Fans just overloaded and stopped caring. I feel like if you are just posting shit like “I just had a bowl of cereal” then maybe that is not so great. Also, any time you offer a distinct opinion on something you are taking the chance that someone will disagree with you and then it is no longer just about the music. Your fans may like your music and not your personality… It is tough to say what is the correct thing to do these days so I just do whatever feels good to me. What else can you do?

You’ve got a Dirtybird dropbox on Soundcloud – how successful has that been in terms of finding new music?
Excellent, we have signed a bunch of things from that.

If you could change one thing about the clubbing experience, what would it be?
Sound systems. I wish all monitors were nice and all sound systems were tuned correctly.

How different are your sets when you play in Europe vs playing in the US? Or is there any difference at all?
It’s not the location it is about the specific crowd. My SF crowd is more clued in than the Panorama Bar crowd on some things. I just play to the crowd.

You’ve just celebrated five years of the label – with what looks like an awesome triple CD compilation release – what do you think is the key to your longevity?
Well I don’t think 5 years is very long but I’m glad we made it this far. We have a sound that no one else is doing… (they may think they are doing it but they aren’t).

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2 responses to “Claude VonStroke interview

  1. Great interview

  2. Nice interview Aidan!

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