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Claude VonStroke (Barclay Crenshaw) plays at Avalon

Barclay Crenshaw, who DJs and produces as Claude VonStroke, has moved to Beverly Hills. He performs Friday at Avalon with Dirtybird label mate Justin Martin.

October 26, 2012|By August Brown, Los Angeles Times
  • Claude VonStroke, Dirtybird label founder and DJ.
Claude VonStroke, Dirtybird label founder and DJ. (Dan Wilton )

Barclay Crenshaw, the co-founder of the San Francisco dance label Dirtybird and a DJ-producer of growing renown as Claude VonStroke, just moved to the Los Angeles area five weeks ago. Not entirely for the burgeoning smart-house club scene or the perfect climate for endless parties though.

"I actually moved to Beverly Hills for the school system," he said and laughed, acknowledging his more parental-concern-driven reasons for coming south and living outside of L.A.'s more famous night life locales. "But it was still cheaper than San Francisco in the end."

That logic is actually kind of apropos for his career as VonStroke and in the Dirtybird crew. Crenshaw's gang has set a template for a new, omnivorous kind of house music, one unafraid of flagrant booty-bass and the fizzy decadence you might find along Rodeo Drive. But the production is so sound-design-savvy and fundamentally musical that it's clear there's a serious dance floor education underneath it.

VonStroke's forthcoming single "Turbosteppa" epitomizes that, with Halloween-appropriate moody house chord hits that quickly succumb to a sublime mover of a bass line. At August's HARD Summer in L.A., Dirtybird had control of a full tent for a long gang-rotation set of enthused genre-smashing. While scenes like house, bass and techno have been opposed in the past, the tent quickly filled with bearded brainiacs and furry-boot ravers alike.

It wasn't the first time he blew up orthodoxy — rap pioneers A Tribe Called Quest joined him onstage for a recent Miami party gig.

"In America, kids are definitely open to anything that's cool," Crenshaw said. "I listen to every demo that crosses my desk and will sign anything that's good."

Crenshaw commandeers Avalon on Friday for a Halloween shindig, with Dirtybird label mate Justin Martin and a "cannibal zombie" theme to boot. It caps a year in which Crenshaw realized his party-starting acumen is ready for a full-time try in L.A. — he has designs on producing for the pop market tapped by Calvin Harris and Rihanna's "We Found Love" — while he finishes a full-length album. Getting buck in Beverly Hills should be no sweat by comparison.

"At Dirtybird shows in San Francisco, we're very democratic about set times, so recently I had to try and blow the place up at 9:30 p.m," Crenshaw said. "And we totally did."


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