Claude VonStroke tells us how to get signed to dirtybird — or rather, how not to get signed
“There’s only two kinds of tracks that I sign: the pony rider or the caveman beat.”
As I stare perplexed at a grinning Claude VonStroke, he begins ad-libbing the two sounds to clarify the statement. “Pony rider is like, ‘doo dudu doo dudu doo,’ and caveman is like ‘ba boomp ba boomp ba boomp.'” I can’t help but laugh. It’s a ridiculous declaration, but one befitting of the light-hearted nature of his world-renowned imprint, dirtybird.
10 years ago, Barclay Crenshaw started a homegrown, DIY label out of his bedroom. What began as casual BBQ parties in San Francisco has since transformed into one of the most beloved house and techno labels in the US. “I always thought it could work,” Crenshaw says. “To be completely honest, it never gets any easier.”
Under the alias of Claude VonStroke, Crenshaw has helped champion one of the most distinct styles in dance music. Chunky, underground-savvy, and relentlessly fun, dirtybird is consistently one step ahead of the game thanks to the ceaseless efforts of its amiable patriarch.
Here’s something you probably didn’t know. Claude VonStroke listens to every single demo submission. He may not respond — in fact he definitely won’t respond unless he’s signing it — but you can be damn sure he’ll listen. So go ahead and send him your 10 minute left-field tech house opus, but be weary of a few things first:
He isn’t looking for what you think dirtybird should sound like.
“I’m only getting what people think should be on dirtybird.. which is limiting. I get a lot of stuff that’s just the same thing over and over again.”
If you don’t have a unique identity to your music, don’t bother.
“It’s having your own personality. It sticks out so quickly if you’re not just copying a style. Like boom! That’s it’s own thing. Immediately you can tell. I really respect those demos, even if I don’t end up signing them.”
You don’t have to have a personal connection to get signed, but it does have to be something special.
“That Shiba San track was like that. It just came in randomly. It just has to be amazing.”
He’s tired of the UK bass trend.
“What I’m not looking for.. is like UK garage-converted house music. It’s like, ok, that’s over… for us at least..”
Have your own thing and own it.
“The advice I would give you for your long term career: it’s better to have your own thing. It’s not really going to get you anywhere if you’re just the guy who tweaked it one millimeter to the left.”
While this won’t guarantee you a ticket on dirtybird by any means, it’s some sound advice for artists submitting demos to any label. To get an idea of the sound he’s pushing at the moment, check out Claude VonStroke’s new Barrump EP.
Beyond the thousands of submissions that he sifts through a month, Claude VonStroke also spearheads the creative direction of the label, which, at the moment, includes a BBQ tour series and a new campout event set for October.
Photo Credit: Dan Wilton