Label profile: Dirty Bird

As the American house label spreads its wings to London this weekend, we tell you everything you need to know about one of the hottest Stateside exports in dance music

The history

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.

The sound

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.

The party

Critics' choice

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

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Village Underground Until Sun Mar 17

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