Claude VonStroke's Dirtybird label has occupied its own willfully weird, boisterous space in club music for a full-on decade now—and wouldn't you know it, they're celebrating with a compliation, the aptly named Dirtybird 10, which drops tomorrow on the label. We've got VonStroke's typically off-center and very enjoyable contribution, "Big Ten," streaming for you below—as well as an email interview with the man himself, ruminating on his label's considerable legacy thus far.
How do you think the label's changed in ten years? How have you changed in ten years? The label has gone from my bedroom dream project to a full business. We're actually providing income for people now. Even so, the decision-making on the music hasn't changed—I still listen to all the demos, I still pick out the tracks. For me, personally, I have two children now, I finally bought a house. I'm touring Europe less so i can be home with my family, but my schedule is even more busy than when I started, which I didn't think was possible. I have 7 more analog keyboards and drum machines, but I still work my ass off to make the music i love to dance to.
Where is Dirtybird's place in dance music right now? I like to think we have always been walking a tightrope between underground and accessible house and techno. We aren't a label that's too cool for school— we don't wear all-black tailored moo moos with modern pirate hats and 17-inch beards, but we make a lot of music that certainly could fit in that category. We're the gateway drug to underground music. As we get bigger, it's harder to hold that position, but as long as the music is consistent, it can be done.
What is your favorite Dirtybird track the label's released? "Deep Throat," because it's the reason we're all still here. We're making a joke but we aren't a joke, which is kind of the theme of the label. When we put that out, we had a few records out and our distributors hadn't paid me one penny yet, but we had just enough money to press "Deep Throat" on vinyl. When it came out, I didn't hear anything back for a while until someone called me on the phone and told me that [Richie] Hawtin, Damian Lazarus, and all these huge DJs were playing it. It was the moment we changed into a real boy, like Pinnochio.
What's the wildest moment you can recall from a Dirtybird event over the last decade? In Australia, a band started soundchecking all their instruments and mic during my set, almost as if i didn't exist. It was literally destroying my set, so I went over and turned off all their amplifiers and the crowd got behind me. Their roadies went absolutely batshit about me touching their stuff—they got all up in my face and we had a little Dirtybird vs roadies skirmish on stage in front of 7,000 Australians. Its funny, cuz when the actual band got there, they were totally cool guys—but we were already getting escorted out of the festival. And I never fight ever. It just happened.
What's up next? I'm doing some stuff with Green Velvet as Get Real this year—we're more of a festival duo. I have a bunch of music coming. Justin Martin is releasing a big project as well. I think we will break at least two new artists this year who will go on to be really successful. The Dirtybird BBQ series for 2015 will be announced in February and traveling to about 7 cities. I will tour everywhere as usual.
Where do you see dance music heading now? It's just going to keep on trucking. Artists will be self-releasing and doing a label will be a waste of time unless the label can figure out a way to establish a brand. The ones that do that will keep growing. The next big shift is streaming. It's hit the mainstream but im curious to see how it affects the DJ market. Anyone relying on music sales entirely will need to find a new job. Underground raves will come back with a vengeance once every single event venue is owned by one of the big three companies. Once the underground parties are big enough, they will all make deals with one of the three big companies! Same shit as ever, haha.
Lead image: Dan Wilton