Claude VonStroke wants your weird music.
The Dirtybird co-founder and esteemed house music producer is currently on the hunt for the weirdest and most innovative music out there.
"I listen to every track that is submitted for consideration on Dirtybird," VonStroke told EDM.com in a recent interview. “It’s a crucial part of my day. But I feel like everything that’s been submitted recently sounds the same. I want to hear some new, weird stuff. That’s what I’m currently looking for right now."
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows and listens to VonStroke's music. Throughout his last 17 years spearheading Dirtybird’s events, apparel sales, and musical endeavors, he’s also managed to release six albums.
While the tech house genre is known to be somewhat of an acquired taste, VonStroke has been instrumental ushering it into the stateside dance music consciousness with his catchy hooks and danceable beats.
VonStroke is surprised and humbled by where he is today. Having started his career by sending demos to clubs and radio stations throughout the U.S. and U.K., and then studying and interviewing artists, he was eventually inspired to launch Dirtybird. He didn’t know at the time that the brand would go on to become one of the world’s leading labels in house music, thanks in part to its signature “tech funk" sound.
But he's now ready for some change. After focusing solely on house music, he hopes to see some experimentation and evolution in Dirtybird's music and artists. And we’re already seeing another side of VonStroke, who has recently tested the waters of different genres by incorporating elements of hip-hop, bass, and funk in music.
“Having fun is what it’s all about,” VonStroke said. “Dirtybird has allowed for experimentation in the music industry for years. I feel now though that I’m almost stuck having to produce a certain sound. I want to keep playing around and experimenting with fun elements and taking risks. I don’t think there’s enough risk-taking in our scene. I’m going to especially push myself and my music this year to do release some cool, new-sounding things that may sound different than what people are used to.”
VonStroke, whose affinity for music experimentation aligns closely with Dirtybird's art curation, grew up as a fan of fine art and collected surrealism artwork. So he annually appoints and works alongside a visual artist to curate the majority of the label's artwork. Since 2012, Dirtybird has commissioned esteened visual artists like Jeremy Fish, Dulk, Raoul Deleo, Charlie Immer, Birdcap, Felicia Chiao, Chema Mendez, and more to capture the sound and essence of all things Dirtybird.
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And the weirder the music, the weirder the art gets.
"The visual component to music is just as important as the music itself," VonStroke explained. "There’s an energy and vibe to each song. I love collecting pieces of art just as much as I love collecting pieces of music. So I hire a surrealist every year who becomes the 'artist in residence' for that year. This person is someone who I have been following in magazines or on Instagram or someone who I found looking at murals. I am always a huge fan of the artist especially because its something that I cannot do myself."
VonStroke also helped launch the "Dirtybird Flight Club" last year. The digital collection, which sold out in three minutes, features 9090 NFTs brought to life by renowned pop-surrealist Birdcap. The unique collection unlocks various perks for token holders, such as exclusive unreleased music, gated merch drops, and access to Dirtybird-curated DJ sets in the metaverse.
Continuing down his path of experimentation and exploration, VonStroke is focusing more on real-life experiences, he says, and taking time off of social media. He’s planning on “experimenting” how a year without planning social media posts and living more in the moment will do for himself and those around him, both in and out of the music industry.
“Social media is great in a lot of ways. It can be such a helpful tool, especially if you’re just starting your career in music,” VonStroke explains. “But in 2022 I want to go to places and spend time with people without worrying about getting a photo or video to capture my experiences on a phone. I’m taking this year to just make some cool new tunes with some cool people. I will admit that I am in a position where maybe I can get away with not doing socials for a year but I think I have earned this position by busting my ass for 20 years.”
Set to headline Tucson's Gem & Jam Music Festival this weekend alongside STS9, Liquid Stranger, Shpongle, Lotus, Opiuo, and more, VonStroke hopes to see a year full of live performances and curating more Dirtybird events for his fans.
“Gem & Jam Music Festival will be cool because I get to play a set for people who may not have heard my music before," VonStroke said. "I love playing at Dirtybird curated events for fans who know my music, but it’s always a great experience getting onstage at a festival knowing that someone will be hearing you for the first time."
Tickets to Gem & Jam Music Festival can be found here.