Exclusive interview with the owner of dirtybird as he sets sail for Ibiza
Claude VonStroke is the owner and A&R of dirtybird records, a label which has developed a roster of intriguing talent from Justin Martin to Catz ‘N Dogz. Renowned for his fun, unique and bass driven take on house music VonStroke has provided us with some of the most memorable dancefloor moments ever, including – Deep Throat, Who’s Afraid Of Detroit, Aundy, Vocal Chords and Le Fantome. As the key weekly resident of the new dirtybird night in Ibiza, he brings the wonderful San Francisco party vibe from Golden Gate Park to Playa d’en Bossa. Dan Prince checks in with the main man…
Barclay welcome to DMCWORLD – the man of the moment getting ready for your first ever residency in Ibiza at Sankeys on Thursday nights. Your esteemed dirtybird gang must be chomping at the bit! So, why now – why 2013 and why Sankeys?
“Thanks for the kind words. Right now I feel like we have everything bubbling over. Justin Martin is doing amazing, Eats Everything is doing amazing, Catz n Dogz, Breach – so many people are doing great things on the label I felt it was time to do a real night in ibiza. Sankeys is more like the clubs we play on the road. So it sutis us well.”
When David Vincent first came in for you over Christmas time with the idea of a residency at the club this summer, was a 12 week residency on your mind?
“No, I didnt even think we would say yes but the more we talked about it the more I started to beleive we could pull it off.”
Tell us about your line ups for dirtybird Ibiza – there must be some artists on their making their Ibiza debuts alongside stalwarts such as Justin Martin and Eats Everything, who are you excited about bringing out…?
“Since we are the only American label with a night on the island for sure we will have probably the most debuts. Justin Jay, Leroy Peppers, J Phlip, Kill Frenzy, Breach, Shadow Child, Worthy – so many people who have been a big party of dirtybird recently and in the past will all have a chance to come and play for us. Our night is 100% dirtybird. If you didnt do a remix or a track for us we didnt book you. Most nights just try to book in whatever guests they think will sell tickets but we are keeping it core to the label.”
Your whole dirtybird family is a very rare thing these days, you can probably count on one hand the other high profile labels who can rival your close nit bond. What is the dirtybird secret to success?
“My philosophy has become one of toleration. We dont restrict people or tie them down to us. We do cool events with a cool vibe and so the artists choose to stay with us on their own. We have a little gang of friends and the close knit feeling comes from us all wanting to work together. Most of us stay outside of the heavy drug scene as well. In general, I have found the less I try to control the artists the better it works out for dirtybird. its a really hard lesson to learn and it takes a long time to get your mind to this place – and yes we still fight like hell to sign certain records, but overall I just want to have a fun label that people want to be on.”
As you say, you are the only American label with your own night this season. Every year us journalists comment on the increasing amount of US clubbers making the pilgrimage to the white isle – how much of a big deal is Ibiza in the States? Does anyone know it exists?
“No, not really. People have heard about it but its mostly all a mystery to most Americans still at this point. There are a few of us who make the journey and maybe it will grow as dance music gets bigger and bigger over here. In the UK and Germany and Spain you can make and break your label in ibiza, but in America nobody even cares you went there so it”s not surprising that there aren’t a lot of US labels with nights.”
We have all been jumping around like lunatics to your sets at DC10 and Space over the years, are you going to make an odd exception outside of Sankeys?
“Well yes, I will make an appearance for my dear friends at We Love…who brought me out there for so many years in a row – and also at the Enter closing party for Hawtin after our season has ended, which is also kind of a dream come true.”
Thursdays are a big night to take on – Guetta at Pacha, Cream at Amnesia and Hawtin at Space just three of your competitors. You relishing taking them on?
“Relishing is not the word to use, but i’m not scared either. We are totally different from all of those nights. We have to build our own thing, just like we have done since the beginning. The best part about dirtybird is that we bring something fresh and we operate outside the system for the most part. We arent inside all the day to day Europe and Uk politics. Just like the track I did with Eats Everything says, Ignorance is Bliss…we just do our thing and we bring our own special fans.”
We have all been on some marathon parties with Dan Pearce aka Eats Everything – he once told me that you can keep up with the best of them for days on end – stone cold sober. Any worries at all about seeing Eats in full stomping mode in Ibiza?
“Yeah I may be older than Dan but I can party. I’ve seen everyone at their worst. nothing phases me at this point. If you are playing for me, just dont get super fucked up before your set and get on the mic every track and we will have a great time!”
What is the current top 10 you are spinning?
“…About 5 trax from my new upcoming CVS project…
The Get Up – Justin Martin and Eats Everything
Untitled – GoldFFInch
Be Mine – Murk Remix
Kid Enigma – Find Me
Chaungo vs 1984 – Code of the Streets
An interesting thing you said in an interview recently, “I almost feel like I’m wasting my time mixing because all I can do is f*ck up and people are so used to hearing absolute perfection. I guarantee you that DJing will soon be track selection only. And that’s fine with me because track selection is the most important thing, period.” That’s an interesting quote coming from a DJ who learnt his trade as a Hip Hop spinner where working the turntables are all part of the fun…?
“I was just making the comment that mixing is slowly turning into a throw away skill. The younger generation doesnt want to learn anything about mixing a track for 3 minutes. I dont know what to really say about this except that I am still mixing and I still have no idea what any of the trick loop buttons do on the CDJs.”
One of my most enjoyable nights in Miami was seeing you drop five big Hip Hop tunes right in the middle of a set – are you finding it harder to do that sort of shit these days depending on where you are, have you ever cleared the floor with some Big Sean?
“I know where to drop Big Sean and where to keep that stuff out of the program. But I’ll do something to break up your night if I feel like it’s all just ho hum…I’m not scard of drum n bass or hip-hop or something fun to mix into the set. I’ve never cleared it with a drop like that becuase I really try to pic the moments where it works and I also dont overdo it.”
What are some of the new tunes about to drop from dirtybird…
“Well we’ve just had one of the biggest dancefloor tunes of the year, Breach’s ‘Jack’. This will be re-released via dirtybird & Atlantic Records with some new mixes in July. We’ve just released the bumper mix package of Kill Frenzy’s amazing ‘Make That Booty Clap ft. DJ Funk’ and the dancefloor bomb from Catz ‘n Dogz & KiNK ‘Love’. In a couple of weeks Eats Everything and Justin Martin’s amazing collab ‘The Gettup’ hits the stores and following that we’re looking at my own new material that I’m currently working on. Its an exciting new project.. More news on that soon…”
Some massive outdoor shows coming up for you, HARD Summer in Los Angeles looks incredible in August with the likes of Knife Party, Rudimental, Justice and Tommy Trash…what are some of the other big events you are looking forward to this summer around the world?
“Oh there are so many! Eastern Electics dirybird stage, Kazantip dirtybird stage, EDC dirtybird pool party, Hard Summer dirtybird stage and then I am playing a ton of stuff like T In The Park, Calvi on the Rocks, What The Festival and much much more…”
Your first DJ name was DJ Tree when you played Drum & Bass and you were christened Claude Von Stroke by a girl over the road in Lower Haight after a mad party thinking up silly minimal techno names from Europe to use. Does that girl who’s birthday party in that tiny bar have any idea just what a monster she helped to create – you still see her?
“Yeah she knows. Nicole can be proud of herself. Nobody would have ever known what this would become at that point. It’s kind of mental to see how far it went.”
And finally, an Ibiza residency is a a long, hard slog. Especially if you are spinning all around the world alongside it all. What are you looking forward to the most from dirtybird at Sankeys this summer…?
“Honestly I’m looking forward to the BBQ we are going to do at our villa before every party, just hanging with the crew. I’m also looking forward to getting really comfortable in a certain DJ booth. I’ve never played the same club 12 times in one year ever before. I think I will be really comfy and really express myself this summer.”
dirtybird @ Sankeys Ibiza every Thursday from June 27th – September 12th