Remember those ridiculously awkward--and now righteously embarrassing--teenage years when you threw secret dance parties for yourself in front of large mirrors? How you prepared for a career in rock 'n' roll in your skivvies with a hairbrush microphone?
Barclay Crenshaw remembers. But Crenshaw--aka Claude VonStroke, the moniker for Crenshaw's minimal-techno-funk DJ persona--had a much different experience than most of us. Instead of bouncing around his bedroom in skivvies to someone else's music, he holed himself up with a couple boomboxes and began creating his own.
"I started making beats at age 14 or 15 in my bathroom, doing tape edits from boombox to boombox," he recalls. "I made rap tapes with my friend Jamie [and] started making dance music at the end of the '90s."
His clandestine lavatory recording operations have begun to pay off nicely. For two years now, Crenshaw has owned and operated San Francisco tech-house label, Dirtybird Records. He's also recently become one of the most highly sought-after DJs in the electronic scene--for both remixes and international club appearances.
After throwing a regularly occurring party in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, Crenshaw and his friend Justin Martin began producing music for a DVD Crenshaw was directing. That project inspired Dirtybird, which has since released several singles by Martin, who also puts out records on Buzzin'fly, the label owned by Everything But the Girl's Ben Watt. Also from Dirtybird comes Claude VonStroke's first full-length album, Beware of the Bird .
"It's really a bunch of singles, but I'm still happy with it--I feel like it captures the concept of my sound in one cohesive project," says Crenshaw, noting that he had trouble getting the album into record stores upon its completion last year. "Distribution is a real bitch, especially for dance music in America. [It's] virtually impossible to get anything going here unless you are Daft Punk or something."
After watching his album do better in Europe than in his own country, he gave up on finding a distributor and released it in December on his own label. Since then, Claude VonStroke's been jumping from one dancefloor to another in New York, Paris, London and even an upcoming stop in San Diego.
According to Crenshaw, San Diego house-music fans can expect "some party rockin' shit--Dirtybird style."
Claude VonStroke performs at Barry Weaver's club night, "Dos Tres," held at the Modus Lounge in Bankers Hill on Thursday, Jan. 18. 619-236-8516.