REWIND! Claude VonStroke Interview

[REWIND! is a weekly feature where Hugh Voltage and Ray De Ation dig through the archives of previous concert coverage. The original words and photos are published as is… with modern commentary about what they think now.]


Hugh: We hung out with Barclay Claude Crenshaw VonStroke for just long enough to realize a trip with him to Vegas would be the sort of shit they’d make movies about.

Ray: This guys a dirty bird. He loves to drink vodka and knows a ton about music. For sure, I’d party down with him. Knowing how chill and intelligent he is made me appreciate his tracks even more.

Original review follows:
If you’ve heard anything from the dirtybird or mothership labels, you know how enigmatic the combination of house, funk, dirty bass, electronica, and other seemingly disparate elements can be. All of that stems – in some way – from the enigmatic nature of their creator, renowned DJ/producer/studio head Claude VonStroke.

Born Barclay Crenshaw (a pretty badass name to begin with) in the suburbs of Detroit, he now calls San Francisco home. His career might have started with movies (where he says he found out he had a natural production ability), but he quickly discovered it wasn’t for him because there were too many people involved and he isn’t a socialite. Coming from the guy who started one of the most famous park parties in San Francisco (they can’t even announce it anymore because it gets too rowdy), this seems a little bit odd. Sitting down with VonStroke, you get little bits and pieces of everything that made his career – and that of his imprints – a success. Like the music that they release (his own work included) he’s a little bit bad boy, a little bit dirty, super funky, and a whole hell of a lot of fun.

Which is probably most recognizable to Chicagoans because of the Christian Martin and Worthy dirtybird residency at the one and only Metro Smart Bar. Obviously you don’t end up with a club residency without visiting the venue so it definitely isn’t the first time VonStroke has been to Chicago. Smart Bar also happens to be his favorite venue and he swears it has absolutely nothing to do with the dirtybird residency. Being that he’s not new to Chicago, he wanted to see Lupe Fiasco and Green Velvet. Day after plans included trips to Gramaphone and Dusty Grooves (assuming he could recover from the afterparty at Transit). Aside from crafting perfect answers for a Chicago based audience, VonStroke enjoys sleeping (what he would be doing if he weren’t at North Coast) and vodka. Vodka is the only thing on his rider and he doesn’t care if it’s Ralph’s charcoal-filtered vodka and served to him out of a waterbottle (hint hint).

A quick Google search for “VonStroke” will net you a wealth of information about Mr. Crenshaw, including the origin of his name being a joke. No where in this vast, scary collection of information does it tell you what the joke was, and we had to know. Barclay Claude Crenshaw VonStroke was more than happy to oblige. He was out in San Francisco (fucked up of course) and a bunch of his buddies started playing a game where they came up with fake techno DJ names. His was Claude VonStroke and he thought nothing of it at the time. Some time later he saw a flier for “Nicole’s Birthday ft. Claude VonStroke” and it just stuck. The rest is history.

Don’t let his outgoing personality, fun-loving nature, and ability to pose coyly for pictures fool you though because he’s also serious business… kind of. He is definitely a perfectionist when it comes to music (it took over a year to develop the album “Deep Throat”) and is constantly modifying. He brings a healthy dose of maturity to the scene (genre doesn’t really fit because outside of thumping bass lines VonStroke tracks are the embodiment of musical diversity) because he started at what other people describe as the “very late age” of 32. He said he understands the sentiment and it even makes sense to a degree when kids start DJing at 18 now. VonStroke has been into music for a while, but he kind of fell into it as a career choice. Ultimately, the joke that was Claude VonStroke evolved into distribution, two labels, a bunch of famous artists, support for a music school (mothership donates proceeds to a music school in Detroit), and a world class DJ that is just as much to hang out with as he is to watch make people dance. If you like fun, Claude VonStroke is your man.

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