Barclay Crenshaw (left) is a very lucky man. Back in 2004 he was a frustrated DJ and producer living in San Francisco who dreamed of ditching his job and starting a label. His girlfriend made him an incredible offer – she’d pay rent and bills for a year while he tried to make the label work. If it didn’t, he’d have to go back to being a depressed and jaded wage slave. Crenshaw slipped fully into his DJ alias, Claude VonStroke, and started the label Dirty Bird. After scene-defining hits like ‘Who’s Afraid of Detroit?’, he now heads a globally followed and outrageously successful dance imprint. Unsurprisingly, he also married his girlfriend.
Take the slowly developing grooves of tech-house, pepper them with the occasional heady rush of electro and the filthy rumble of UK bass music, and you’ve got the core ingredients of a Dirty Bird release. The secret touch however is an ability to avoid being as po-faced and earnest as much of its competition. One listen to the horror sound effects on The Martin Brothers’ ‘Full Moon’ or a glance at the title of Genghis Clan’s ‘Aaaaah Sheeet’ show that Dirty Bird is able to make tongues wag while keeping its own firmly in cheek.
The special relationship
It’s fair to say that America has been in hock to British dance music in recent years. Just look at dubstep – invented in south London, yet so ingrained in America’s mainstream that the White House even used a wub-wubbing soundtrack on a video trailing President Obama’s State of the Union address last month. Thankfully Dirty Bird is helping repay the debt. New-school UK house heroes Julio Bashmore and Eats Everything (left) released some of their first material on the label, plus they’ve recently been championing one of 2013’s breakout stars, British house producer Shadow Child. The love runs both ways, though, with VonStroke asked to record both a prestigious FabricLive mix and a Radio 1 Essential Mix.
Dirty Bird came together by hosting outdoor parties in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park – accompanied by a barbecue chef known enigmatically as ‘Grillson’. While there won’t be any meat treats at Saturday’s London showcase, there’s sure to be bangers galore. Joining Claude VonStroke in the booth will be Dirty Bird mainstays Justin Martin, J.Phlip (left) and Catz N’Dogs, while Bristolian DJ Eats Everything represents the label’s Transatlantic connection.The Dirty Bird Players is at Village Underground, Sat Mar 16 Read more
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The dubstep pioneer-turned-disco don will be spending 13 whole weeks as the resident DJ at the Shoreditch club. We find out what he’s got up his sleeve He’s been tearing up dancefloors around the world for a decade. Now, DJ and producer Skream is coming home. He’s the latest resident DJ at Shoreditch club XOYO, following quarterly residency slots from Eats Everything, The 2 Bears, Jackmaster and Simian Mobile Disco. What this means, is that for the first time in a decade of touring, Skream can base himself in his hometown for three months. Considering how much time he’ll be spending at XOYO, he’d better get comfy behind the decks, too…How do you feel about the residency?‘It’s not something you can say “yes” to straight away. It’s a big chunk of time to be here, but London’s my home town. Then there’s the pressure of following the other residents. I’ve got to deliver!’Will it be difficult to maintain the same standard of DJing for 13 consecutive weekends?‘It’s really exiting, but at the same time it’s so scary. How do you play a disco set following Dimitri From Paris? I might as well play fucking Britpop!’Are DJ residencies still relevant?‘They’re so old-school. If you look back to early raves, it was all about residents. That’s what built a lot of club culture. People trusted the DJ. [The XOYO residency] is taking it back to the dancefloor. It’s not just about being out, you’re there for the music.’You’ve said you see yourself primarily as someone who makes music and a DJ afRead more
Ahead of an upcoming club night paying tribute to NYC nightspot Paradise Garage, we ask the DJs involved why the club still matters over 30 years later It was only open for ten years, but the Paradise Garage and resident DJ Larry Levan are now the stuff of nightlife legend. From 1977 until 1987, Levan’s pioneering disco edits and wild sets blew minds, while the club was an underground disco haven for New York City’s gay and minority communities, as well as countless dedicated clubbers.London clubbing institution Ministry of Sound was inspired by the Garage, and is hosting a tribute to the venue and Levan, who died in 1992. The event, called A Night in Paradise, boasts a once-in-a-lifetime line-up of Garage alumni and newer DJs, and aims to raise £20,000 for two HIV charities, Terrence Higgins Trust and New York-based Gay Men’s Health Crisis. We asked six top DJs from the roster (which also includes Joey Llanos, Kenny Carpenter and soul singer Jocelyn Brown performing her own songs live) what the Paradise Garage legacy means to them. We’ve also collected together a selection of original photos and flyers from the glory days of Paradise Garage, below. A Night in Paradise live in London Popular nightlife this week Read more nightlife features Ministry of Sound celebrates Paradise Garage We speak to the DJs involved at a tribute night to the seminal NYC club New Year’s Eve parties and club nights in London See in 2015 with by partying hard at one of London’s best NYERead more