As the Big Bird of San Francisco-based Dirtybird, Claude VonStroke has built an electronic dynasty since the label’s founding a decade ago.
Toeing the line of business and pleasure with its carefree, relaxed vibes and cutting-edge sounds, the label has earned itself the unwavering devotion of both its hardcore fans and the DJ community at large.
Now, the label is flying even higher with the inaugural Dirtybird Campout set to debut this weekend. The three-day camping fest will bring the label’s staunch mainstays, close associates, biggest fans, and a countless amount of summer camp-themed activities together to Southern California’s Oak Canyon Park from October 2-4.
We caught up with the Detroit-born DJ/producer to talk about the label’s growth and journey ahead of this weekend’s event.
DJ Times: How did the idea of throwing a full-blown Dirtybird festival come to be? Was there a specific “a-ha” moment or was it an idea that grew over a period of time?
Claude VonStroke: I always really enjoyed going to the smaller independent festivals like What The Festival in Oregon. I also really enjoyed going to camp when I was a kid, so I guess it’s just a combo of a bunch of stuff. I also felt like it was time for us to control our own destiny a little bit more and do our own festival for our own people.
DJ Times: Are there any lessons you’ve taken from the BBQ series that you’ll be applying to the Campout?
VonStroke: Free water and be ready for a lot of people to want BBQ plates! We kept our staff the same, so everyone knows what to expect on our side. On the festival side of things, I’m lucky enough to be partnered with an amazing company called the Do Lab who put on one of the best festivals in the world already.
DJ Times: The lineup includes the Dirtybird family as well as artists from across the spectrum of dance music. What went into curating the lineup and programming the schedule?
VonStroke: The lineup is seriously all the DJs that I like and want to hear from everywhere. It’s just like the label: there is no magic formula. It’s just awesome music with awesome people.
DJ Times: In addition to the music, you’re also offering camp activities and games throughout the weekend. What went into the decision to offer more than just music?
VonStroke: I knew if we did something like this, we would want to make it our own thing. We want to interact with the fans and we want people to have fun in a way that no other festival really does. So the Campout is our excuse to party with our friends and fans from all around the world!
DJ Times: 2015’s seen you celebrating 10 years of Dirtybird with events all over the country. Did you expect any of the success the label’s had?
VonStroke: I always expect the best outcome, even if I don’t tell anyone what ‘m thinking. I always have this little hope that everything I do will be a huge success. Dirtybird just happens to be the biggest success career-wise for me. I’ve tried a lot of other stuff, but this has been—and still is—the most fulfilling endeavor. I would say our success has always been gradual and never a big, giant jump, which is why we have such a strong grassroots fan base.
DJ Times: Considering the success of the Dirtybird BBQ’s (and now the Campout), Dirtybird is becoming a major event brand in addition to just being a label. How do the two aspects give back to each other?
VonStroke: I see it more as a necessity. If we don’t expand, we will end. Record labels are not really “for profit” businesses anymore unless they are massive radio hit machines, but I never ever want to sign a track because I think it will sell a lot of copies.
Where does Dirtybird go from here? Do you want the label’s parties and events to grow further or do you want to try and cap it at a certain stature?
VonStroke: I certainly want to cap the number at the BBQs. I think once you get to 5,000 people, it stops becoming a family-vibe. The Campout can grow a little bit, but overall we aren’t going to start doing 30 major Dirtybird parties a year. There is a limit because everyone has their own life and their own DJ career outside of the label. I want people to grow their own thing for sure.
Tickets and more information are available at DirtybirdCampout.com