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Crenshaw: Gary [Richards] that runs HARD Events was actually my next-door neighbor for two years, and he tried to sign my very first album on a napkin in a bar [laughs]. I didn’t do it because I didn’t really know anything about him—I was still up in San Francisco. Gary has always been a super-friend to Dirtybird, so he’s booked everybody at all of his stuff. Because of that, it made everybody else go, “Oh, we’ve got to book those guys.”

DJ Times: Dirtybird’s roots are in San Francisco. There’s something about the city that gives rise to DJ collectives—you guys, Honey Soundsystem—and there are a lot of small pockets of groups.
Crenshaw: San Francisco is the cliquiest music town in the universe.

DJ Times: Why is that?
Crenshaw: I’ll even tell you that I couldn’t get into the first clique that I tried to get into. It was the Eklektic drum-n-bass little group of Compound Music. I tried to get into this community, but…

DJ Times: What’s it about the party scene there that lends itself to that?

Crenshaw: That is the way the party scene evolves and works in San Francisco. It means that local guys can play to 3,000 people, but no one will go to the big techno DJ from Europe. It’s very insular. It’s almost like Sunset has to book the biggest guy in Europe for anybody to give a shit that he’s coming. You have to get blessed by one of the crews because the people just get used to going to a party where they know they’re going to see everyone they know.

DJ Times: So it’s more of a family vibe?
Crenshaw: Yeah. You either go to Sunset or Green Gorilla, Wicked, [Dax Present’s] parties, or whatever, but there’s all kinds of little crews. That’s just the way San Francisco is. That’s also why Dirtybird never got super huge when we were only in San Francisco. When I moved to Los Angeles, the music industry side really opened up.

DJ Times: When was that?
Crenshaw: Probably three and a half or four years ago. Makes sense, doesn’t it? We still run half the label out of San Francisco; the label manager’s there and our main tour and production guy is there. Justin [Martin] still lives there, Ardalan lives there.

DJ Times: You’ve recently landed a Las Vegas residency for The Birdhouse at Daylight Beach Club and The Light nightclub, which is pretty unexpected given your sound. How did that happen?
Crenshaw: Everything’s been unexpected this year! I have to give this one up to my agents Lee Anderson and Max Braun at AM Only who are just rockstars. They just made it happen. I don’t know how they made it happen. They just made it happen!

DJ Times: Now did you play at all out there when Disclosure was playing?
Crenshaw: Yes. I went on Disclosure’s whole U.S. tour on a bus with them coming out of Campout. The Disclosure guys really crossed over, and then I piggybacked on their night, which might’ve made the Vegas guys say, “Oh, nobody’s leaving when this guy is on.” That was a comment I actually got from someone: “Everyone usually leaves during the last set, and they’re not leaving, so maybe you’re OK.”

DJ Times: On the surface, it sounds like an underhanded compliment, but it’s a pretty good one given Vegas.
Crenshaw: Vegas is crazy. You get every comment possible. “No one cares that you’re playing. You realize that, right?” I’ve heard every comment, but I think that if a guy that plays my kind of music can crack that crowd, it will be better for everyone.

DJ Times: Do you think now is the time for that music to crack into there?
Crenshaw: I feel like it’s still tough. We’re doing well, but I don’t have an offer for next year. Nobody’s like, “Can we get you 100%?” It’s not a 14-date residency—it’s like a five-day one.

DJ Times: It speaks to you that you play Movement Detroit, Paradise at DC-10 in Ibiza, Moonrise Festival in Baltimore here, and Las Vegas all in a single summer.
Crenshaw: The only other guy that can do that is Green Velvet [laughs].
DJ Times: How do you exist between all of them and maintain your identity?
Crenshaw: That’s where I always wanted to be! I ended up where I wanted to be.
DJ Times: Everywhere?
Crenshaw: I don’t want someone to book a festival [and see me] and say, “No, we don’t book any of that at all.” I want to always be on the list just ’cause everything has to be represented at a festival. I want to play DC-10 and the coolest parties ever, and also two years ago I told my management, “Just put me on the main stage and I’ll eat shit after the festival trap guy. Just do it.” I did it a bunch of a times and even though it was a fucking nightmare, I picked up a bunch of fans. Not everyone was freaking out, but I know I picked up a bunch of fans by doing that.

DJ Times: From a DJing perspective, how do you play a set at DC-10 versus one in Vegas?
Crenshaw: You’d be surprised that it’s not that different. Can you believe that? I’m telling you, it’s not that different.

DJ Times: So you don’t have to cater to a Vegas crowd that’s characteristically not Claude VonStroke?
Crenshaw: My whole thing is that I’m not going to change the music that much. If I have a Vegas residency, you can’t talk shit about it because I’m playing pretty much the same music that I would play at the coolest club in the world. If I can’t play that in Vegas, then we shouldn’t be doing it. It’s not like I’m going to Vegas and saying I have to play a bunch of Katy Perry songs because we’re in Vegas—that’s not going to happen. I’m not changing. I’m bending Vegas to me! I don’t think it’s bendable, but I’m trying.

DJ Times: Is it a similar notion to you bending Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money” from its pop nature to your sound?
Crenshaw: I think that one was right on the border of what I’m comfortable with. The dub I was totally cool with and the vocal version they just demanded, but I hated that version. Nothing against Rihanna… if Rihanna asked me to make a hip-hop beat and she sang on it and I didn’t have to have my name on it, I would totally do it.

DJ Times: Last year at Campout you started performing under your real name Barclay Crenshaw with an afterhours set. How would you describe the sound and what are the plans for it?
Crenshaw: It’s like instrumental hip-hop from the ’90s, but produced from a different planet. I’m almost done with the whole album. I’ve been working on it for five, six months.

DJ Times: When you studied production at Point Blank it was under a dubstep course, not a house one, right?
Crenshaw: I took a bass-music course, yeah. I take those kind of things all the time and I’m a member of and I take their tutorials like every month. I love it because you cannot even believe how deep Ableton Live and Maschine and all these programs are. It’s ridiculous. Nobody knows how anything works, by the way. There’s five guys who know; Eprom’s one who knows how everything works.

DJ Times: And you two did a collaborative EP together [2015’s Crawled Eagle on STX and BRX].
Crenshaw: He blew my mind. I was just sitting there going, “Holy shit.”

DJ Times: From a studio perspective, you’re using Ableton Live. Are you using a lot of outboard synths?

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