Claude VonStroke: “Maybe Over The Head Of Some People”
Claude VonStroke is the man. If you don’t know who he is, geez, I’m sorry bro.
From the great city of Detroit, Claude, or as his mother named him Barclay Crenshaw, wanted to be a film maker. That didn’t work out, so instead he got all up in tech house and founded Dirty Bird records, probably one of the best labels ever.
His style is untouchable, fresh and sexy. As a performer, he’s constantly mixing and working his ass off, smiling at the crowd and digging the scene.
How do I know? I saw it with my own eyes at this year’s EDC Orlando, and even more, I got the chance to speak to the man 1v1 after his set.
Though his mixing was truly amazing, it’s important to note that EDC was a totally weird environment. Not enough people were there to begin with, and most of the attendees were newb-head frat bros. When I met with Crenshaw, a guy characteristically fun-loving and smiley, the reality of the fist-pumper fest mess was weighing on his large shoulders.
“It was cool,” he said of the set. “A couple things could have been maybe over the head of some people … It’s slightly depressing when (the next set) comes on and everyone freaks out.”
What he means is, when he plays his rare set of unique and worthwhile house to a few hundred, just to watch the stage mauled by thousands as he hands the table over to a better-known but less talented monolith, it can really suck. Genius DJs who dedicate themselves to pushing the envelope need love, too.
“A lot of times really young kids just wanna hear the things they hear on the radio,” Crenshaw said. “I know it sounds like I play deep, but I know it’s not that deep.”
But it’s not like the guy is some pillar of obscure music elitism. When asked about his influences, he couldn’t pin it down to one thing or another. Crenshaw listens to everything; hip hop, rock ‘n’ roll, soul, electro. Fuck, he even admits that he loves American Idol. But not the recent bullshit with all the country singers. He does have a soul.
And Crenshaw cares. He gives back man. Did you know he donates the proceeds of sales from his other label, mothership, to a children’s art school in his hometown? Even if they’re not able to donate millions to the cause, he said it’s cool to know you’re doing some kind of good.
“I heard a lot of people talking about how the school was cool,” he said. “I watched this video about people complaining that everyone leaves Detroit and they make all this money and then they don’t (put any back in the city and I didn’t want to be like that).”
And for the past nine years, he and the rest of the Dirty Bird crew have been throwing free bar-b-que parties in Golden Gate Park, giving back to their HQ of San Francisco the best way possible – food and effing tunes. He said it started when they bought a bunch of sound equipment as a lark to have a little fun. It hit off with area families and over the years, grew to be totally massive.
“The last one was so big I don’t know if we can have it anymore,” he said, noting they’ve been keeping their eyes pealed for larger venues. “Hopefully we’ll be able to have one somewhere.”
So, what does the future hold for Crenshaw and his nasty crew? Well, Claude VonStroke is set to release an album of remixes, aptly titled Makeovers this July, along with EPs from members of the gang like Tom Flynn and Christian Martin.
And oh yeah, Crenshaw has another identity, Grizzl, and he’s coming out with some new shit under that title as well. Did I just blow you mind? Get on that shit!
Also, anyone within a five-state radius of Florida should get in on the Claude VonStroke set going down at Wet Paint’s favorite Tallahassee party Menace Beach, Friday, August 26. Crenshaw himself said he really gets into his groove at a club setting. Certainly not to be missed.
In the meantime, here are some tunes to expand your musical musings. Don’t let it go over your head
J. Phlip & The Grizzl – BKUPGRL
Claude VonStroke – Beat That Bird (feat. Justin Martin)
Claude VonStroke – FACT Mix 101