Crews & Collectives: Dirtybird Records
“Crews & Collectives” is a series on EDM.com that investigates and highlights the immeasurable number of labels, groups, and entities present within today’s vast electronic music scene. Each week we choose one collective and research many of its achievements, distinguishing traits, and supporting artists so that you can learn as much as possible about the people and culture within today’s EDM scene.
dirtybird records is a San Francisco-based house label that provides an edgier and funkier side to techno, breaks, and deep house music. Founded by Claude VonStroke along with friends Justin Martin and Christian Martin, dirtybird has pushed its catchy sound beyond the label’s home-city limits and into the hearts of house music cultures around the world. Only a short listen through their catalogue can give listeners a solid insight into their unprecedented direction, and the additional support from fellow dirtybird members Kill Frenzy, J. Phlip, Catz & Dogz, and Eats Everything to name a few have helped advance the label’s subjugation of American and British house music. Thanks to a tight bond, powerful catalogue, and incurable knack to party, Claude VonStroke and his team of “players” will continue their mission to spread their unique sound, and don’t plan on stopping until the whole world is partying with them.
Label-runner and producer Claude VonStroke is not your average DJ. Many may not know this, but the dirtybird founder originally pursued a career in film before getting into the music scene. Throughout VonStroke's (real name: Barclay Crenshaw) career in television and film, he was featured as a production assistant on numerous titles such as The Truman Show, The Jackal, and the 1997 version of Batman & Robin. In 2003, he also directed, edited, produced, and composed the soundtrack for the documentary Intellect: Techno House Progressive, which featured many of techno and house music’s biggest acts such as Paul Van Dyk and Derrick May. However, despite all the success within cinema and production, the Detroit-native’s undying lust for music still prevailed, and it was only a short time after this release that Barclay decided to discontinue his film career and fully pursue music.
After collecting enough money from sacrificed credit cards to afford the appropriate gear, Christian Martin alongside brother Justin Martin and Claude VonStroke all decided to bring their newly purchased equipment and sound systems to the BBQ pits in Golden Gate Park. With a grill at one side and speaker at the other, the group procured a house-themed summer event that would quickly develop into one of San Francisco’s most diverse and revered parties. With hundreds of attendees, and a few successful summers to back its cause, Claude VonStroke decided it was time to create dirtybird records in 2005. The label’s debut release, a collaboration between Justin Martin and Sammy D called “Southern Draw,” was an immediate success, and it led to the label’s first vinyl distribution deal in Germany. It wasn’t long afterwards that Claude VonStroke began bringing his own work to the table, and after his debut track “Deep Throat” and critically-acclaimed single “Who’s Afraid of Detroit” hit the airwaves, the dirtybird sound began expanding beyond the Bay Area and into house epicenters such as Detroit, New York, London, and Ibiza.
Come 2014, almost 8 years since the label’s inception, their catalogue of over 40 EPs has seen airplay all around the world, and their growing roster of dirtybird-certified talent confirms their special place within the house scene. Long-time label members Kill Frenzy, J. Phlip, and Worthy can credit much of their success to their involvement with dirtybird, as they all have seen releases and mixes featured on mega-outlets such as BBC 1, Mixmag, and Rinse FM. Other notable residents and featured artists include Catz n’ Dogz, Eats Everything, Leroy Peppers, BrEach, Justin Jay, and French Fries, each providing their own unique take on the signature dirtybird sound. BrEach's "Jack" might be dirtybird's most well-known track, and it was named one of EDM.com's favorite songs of 2013.
The label’s latest release, the dirtybird BBQ compilation, is a selection of tracks hand-picked by Claude VonStroke featuring a burgeoning group of young and talented artists, and they have showcased a seemingly endless range of booty-shaking beats and sub-thumping rhythms to groove to.
If there is any artist and label that has had as much fun pushing its sound as it had creating it, there is no better example than Claude VonStroke and his illustrious dirtybird records. From what originally started as a house-themed BBQ event in Golden Gate Park to the renowned mega-crew and endless catalogue of music that the label represents today, dirtybird records has become a staple within today’s club house scene. Each of the label’s unique artists have played a crucial part in the development of the label’s sound, and the never-ending support from the San Francisco scene and beyond can attest to the skill and fortitude of this magnificent entity within EDM today.