Dirtybird Records head honcho and dance music nice guy Claude VonStroke has been a busy man of late. Between a support show in Madison Square Garden for Disclosure, a collaboration tour with Green Velvet and organising his own festival, radio show and Miami party (as well as the record label), it’s surprising he even has time to talk to press.
So we relished the opportunity. We talk modern dance music and his love for hip hop with the house music mainstay.
You’ve been really busy lately with parties and festivals, how has the planning been?
Do you have any plans to bring the parties or the festival across the Atlantic?
If someone wants to talk to me about it I’m all up for it!
Your collaboration with Green Velvet happened in winter 2015. How was the reaction to that ?
Awesome. He’s a great guy. We’re good friends. Its really fun when we perform together so it’s a great project.
When your deciding on the collaborations is it about your personal relationship with them, or how does it come about?
I wouldn’t do a lot of collabs, but that one I couldn’t pass up it was way too good.
You supported Disclosure recently in Madison Square Garden. For someone who’s been around for seminal times in dance music, what’s it like seeing artists like that on such a high level?
It’s pretty cool. It’s like a different thing though. They’re the verge of being a band. It’s a full production, it’s not really a DJ set it’s a full on concert.
It’s totally cool that people are able to go that far, but I wouldn’t say it’s the same thing.
Especially here in the States it’s like “holy shit”. It’s gone off the chain it’s incredible.
Do you see that bubble about to burst? How do you see that panning out ?
It seems like the big EDM bubble might be subsiding a little bit. The underground stuff is getting gigantic. It doesn’t seem like it’s going to burst.
One thing we do that not everyone does is that we’re obsessed with data collection and being cool to our specific fans so we have that gigantic grass routes thing that’s not affected by whether EDC book us or not. So in that way I don’t think it’s going to burst.
I also don’t think that guys are going to continue to get paid 35,000 to DJ for 45 minutes.
I read that Hip Hop was your first love, what artists got you into the genre and when?
1983, 1984 and it was Eric B and Rakim, Public Enemy, Run DMC, Slick Rick , Biz Markie, Beastie Boys, all that stuff.
The production has changed since then so how do you see the state of modern hip hop?
It’s kind of like dance music, if you look at it on the surface it looks really bad, if you turn to your mom and say, “Oh let’s go listen to the number one hip hop song on the radio” it’s going to be terrible. Like if you listen to the number one dance music song it’s going to be the worst song you’ve ever heard. There’s really cool shit in the underground of every genre though.
What Artist do you feel stand out in that hip hop underground?
I don’t know, I’m too busy keeping up to date with the underground dance scene, haha!
When did you make the transition ? When did you decide to focus on dance music?
My transitional genre was drum and bass. I went from hip hop to drum and bass to techno, and then house. That happened in maybe 1995. I don’t know, the years are all blurred together.
You moved from Cleveland to Detroit, how long ago was that?
About 40 years ago haha, maybe 30!
Do you think your music taste/production would be different if you stayed in Cleveland?
I would have been in a classic rock band playing the bass with a mullet! I’m just kidding I have no idea but I would have never of heard of techno. I would probably still be listening to hip hop though.