San Francisco house and techno DJ Claude VonStroke – here for his 12th year at Winter Music Conference – is one of the under-the-radar stars you should be sure not to miss during the week. Catch him spin Wednesday, March 21 at the DJ Mag Recession Sessions at the Pool Shelborne South Beach (he’s on the cover), along with Sasha and James Zabiela, but it’s his label Dirtybird’s BBQ party Thursday, March 22 at Villa 221 (221 NE 17th St.) in Miami that he’s most psyched about. He talked to Miami.com about that show, how BBQ became a part of it, and the origin of his name (his mama calls him Barclay Crenshaw).
What can we expect from your show at Villa 221?
A very good representation of our label sound, from deep house to bass music – Justin Martin, Breach, Catz n Dogz, J Philip, myself and many more. We will also be grilling for the fans, and are flying out our chief grillmaster, who has been grilling for our Golden Gate Park party for 10 years. In addition to the amazing music, sun and food, we have a special sundown guest appearance by one of my idols, Pfife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest. I am so excited for this party!
What inspired you to start throwing BBQ parties?
Christian Martin (aka Leroy Peppers) was the man who really pushed the outdoor party. He had been highly influenced by the West Coast moontribe parties out here, so he bought a sound system on his credit card and we started doing them. Most of the inspiration came from the fact that we were not satisfied with the music being played in San Francisco. So we started our own genre: grimey BBQ house music.
The flyer promises free “Dirtybird Stunners” for the first 300 people – what does that mean?
Stunners are sunglasses. One of our sponsors is called Stunner of the Month. You join their service and they send you a pair of sunglasses every month and it’s really cheap. I loved the service so much I called them up to see what we could do together. So we will also have limited edition Dirtybird stunners for the first 300 people!
How would you describe your sound, other than “house” or “techno”?
I’ve always called it tech funk from Day One. You could say it’s house with a drum ‘n’ bass, hype-y influence.
How long are you down here in Miami, and are there any parties or DJs you’ll be sure to catch?
I’m only in town for a few days this year, but I imagine I will try to catch a few parties, especially the Sunday party called Last Resort which has so many of my friends playing at it – I can only imagine it will be insane. I always try to catch something besides house music as well. Last year I made a point to go see Scuba and Gaslamp Killer, so I think I will try to do something similar this year as well and see something I don’t get to see all the time.
What does Miami week mean to Dirtybird, with all the international acts descending upon the city?
As an American label, we want to make a good showing, but I try not to get too caught up in the competition angle of Miami. The one year I tried to shoot for the moon and be better than everyone else, it bit me in the ass and I’ll never forget it. I’ve found it’s better to just make sure your party is the best it can be, and that it represents the feeling of your label, and don’t worry about what anyone else is doing.
Describe your favorite moment during all of your WMC experiences.
For some reason it always involves seeing Matthew Dear play. This could be a right place-right time coincidence, but it’s happened a few times. I would say the best time to be had is after you are done playing and you can hang out and party with your friends from around the world that you rarely get to see in this kind of fun environment.
What inspired the name to Claude VonStroke?
It was a joke name we made up poking fun at European minimal techno DJ names. It was always a joke, but it stuck, so now everyone calls me Claude VonStroke instead of Barclay Crenshaw.