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Claude VonStroke: “You can’t stay popular for over 20 years unless you make great music”

Claude VonStroke created a small underground record label called Dirtybird in 2005 and grew it into a full-fledged events, clothing, and music brand over the last 15 years. During this time, he has also managed to release 4 artist albums and some of the most iconic house music tracks of the last two decades.

Most people know Claude VonStroke for his smiling DJ persona touring every major city, festival, and basement after-party around the world. But Claude has also influenced the very fabric of the dance community, A&Ring an impeccable roster of acts like Justin Martin, Fisher, Shiba San, Catz n Dogz, Riva Starr, Tim Green, Breach, Eats Everything, Walker & Royce, Shadow Child, and countless others.

Ahead of his Dirtybird Stage takeover at Ultra Miami, EG caught up with Claude VonStroke to learn more about the Players Tour, the label’s ‘Dirtybird Scrambled’ official remix album, the future of Dirtybird, and more.

EG: Hi Claude! Welcome to EG. It’s a pleasure to have you here with us. How have you been? Where are you based right now?

Claude VonStroke: I’m fantastic, thanks. I’m just coming off a two-month break from touring, so I’m feeling very fresh.

EG: First of all, congratulations on your upcoming performance at Ultra Miami! You must be very excited. What can we expect?

Claude VonStroke: This year we are bringing back the Dirtybird Players, which is kind of like the record label Olympic team, featuring all the newest and most popular artists. After Miami, the Players Tour continues all spring.

EG: You’ll be curating the Dirtybird stage takeover as well! Exciting times ahead, right? What can fans of the brand find here? What is the process of curating a stage at such a massive event? How do you go about planning the lineup?

Claude VonStroke: It’s very simple, I find out who is available from my list of people who are still highly active with the record label. So signing new music kind of dictates the pool of artists I choose from. There are also a second set of artists who I feel performed really well at our festivals. That’s another way in.

EG: Also, you’ve just released the ‘Dirtybird Scrambled’ official remix album last month. What was it like revisiting all those years of remixes on Dirtybird? Did you ever expect to come this far with the brand?

Claude VonStroke: It’s always nice to remind people about cool deep cuts from the catalog. So many people helped me, we have a great team. It’s been 18 years+ for the label. We put in so much time and energy, I think we kind of forced it to succeed out of sheer willpower.

“This year we are bringing back the Dirtybird Players, which is kind of like the record label Olympic team, featuring all the newest and most popular artists”

EG: A few months ago, EMPIRE acquired the Dirtybird label & brand. How did this opportunity come along? What does this entail for the future and legacy of Dirtybird?

Claude VonStroke: It’s an amazing opportunity for us to grow in a way we couldn’t grow before as a mom-and-pop business. EMPIRE is an incredible partner to take Dirtybird to the next level.  I am already seeing new and different opportunities that we did not have before.

EG: What would you say it takes to run a successful label in today’s landscape? Is there a key aspect to work on if you’re bent on having some sort of commercial success?

Claude VonStroke: You need a good team, great music, and great art. If you have those 3 pieces, everything tends to work out. A lot of emphasis is now on social media, but I think a lot of that kind of popularity isn’t based on music. You really want to be rooted with real fans and release the best music if you want to be around for a long time.

EG: How do you feel about the use and role of social media today? Does it take too much away from the music?

Claude VonStroke: You read my mind. Like I was saying before, getting big on socials is a real way to get popular. It works. I just don’t think you can stay popular for over 20  years unless you make great music.

EG: Can you tell us something about yourself that only a few people know about?

Claude VonStroke: My alternative music producer alias is actually my real name, Barclay Crenshaw.

“A lot of emphasis is now on social media, but I think a lot of that kind of popularity isn’t based on music”

EG: How do you keep entertained when not in the studio? Have you checked out any good movies, series, books, or albums you’d recommend?

Claude VonStroke: I make music with my kids and I watch movies. I also meditate and do some of that kind of thing. If you like very strange atmospheric horror films, watch ‘Skinamarink’.

EG: What’s next for Claude VonStroke and Dirtybird? What particular milestones are you looking forward to in 2023? Where can your fans catch you next?

Claude VonStroke: This Dirtybird Players Tour is on for the first half of 2023. I have several releases coming out, all kinds of stuff, from bangers to moody melodic stuff. Our Dirtybird Campinn Festival will also be insane in June in Orlando.

EG: Thank you so much for your time, Claude! We wish you all the best for the future.

Claude VonStroke: Thanks a lot, EG! See you in Miami!

Catch Claude VonStroke and Ditrybird at Ultra Miami. Purchase your tickets here.

Follow Claude VonStroke: Instagram | Facebook | Soundcloud | Spotify

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