Barclay Crenshaw—aka Claude VonStroke—sounds as laid-back on the phone as you’d expect. The underground DJ and producer known for party-driving records and his own tasty blend of house, funk and dirty-bass radiates an effortless cool that’s often emulated but rarely achieved.
VonStroke brings that swagged-out demeanor to his music (hear: “Make A Cake”), his Dirtybird record label and his legendary barbecue series. Now, he’s bringing the ultra-chill vibes to Vegas with a new residency at Daylight called the Birdhouse.
“I’ve been just waiting [to see] when is the time when it’s gonna work, and we’re hoping this is the time,” VonStroke says about his left-of-the-dial programming. If his past few stops here—with and without Disclosure—were any indication, unconventional DJs are picking up momentum.
“The audience is just getting more discerning, and they want to check out other stuff besides the really commercial stuff … It’s just happening right in front of me, all these kids experimenting and going into more deep sounds. I think there’s an opportunity for a night like ours to be in Vegas.”
The Birdhouse takes over Daylight’s pool grounds for the launch of Sundown following Disclosure’s afternoon set. There’s no party more appropriate to kick off the club’s summer underground house series.
How did the concept for the Birdhouse radio show and party come up? I wanted to start doing a radio show, so we started that, and then my agent [and I] were kind of chatting and we were saying we never really did anything outside of Dirtybirds, and it would be cool to actually play some shows where I get to pick who’s playing and it’s not always Dirtybirds [DJs]. The idea just kept going until it became a thing.
How do you curate who you’re going to play on the show, or have play at your events? I listen to a lot of music, and I just get a lot of music from everywhere. I see people play all the time and I’m a fan of lots of different DJs, and not all of them are on my label, so it’s pretty easy.
You’ve always been really creative in terms of the events you throw. How is the Birdhouse party going to differ from your famous Dirtybird barbecues? Maybe it’s a little bit more European? It’s not going to be so goofy, but it’s still going to be fun. It still has a bird theme, of course, but it just has a different sound.
You started playing Vegas more frequently a few years ago. How has it been trying to carve out an underground space here when big room house is so popular? Maybe the first couple times I came it wasn’t really at that point where it was going to be accepted. But it’s actually been really carrying over ... Even at the festivals we can see it. The audience is just getting more discerning and they want to check out other stuff besides the really commercial stuff. I really hope it works.
How is the energy in Vegas compared to cities where underground DJs are more accepted? It’s comparable now. It’s hard for me to really say, because the last couple times I’ve played with Disclosure. They have songs on the radio. But I did notice that people definitely stayed for what I was going to play and it wasn’t like. ‘Oh, we don’t like this.’ It was very encouraging. We actually had one that was all Dirtybirds at Daylight that went really, really well, which was the first hint that I thought we might be able to do it. That was not with Disclosure; that was just us.
And there’s a special stage production to go along with the Birdhouse, right? Yeah, it’s not insane, like millions of dollars (laughs), but we have all these huge feather flags and outfits for the waitstaff, and just like the whole vibe and our visuals are really cool and the DJ booth will look a certain way. It has a definite theme, and that is going everywhere. But we’re not bringing in, like, a spaceship.
You’re not in Vegas often, but when you do come here, what do you like to see or do? Sometimes I’m there with my kid, so we just go swimming at fun pools. I like roulette, but I’m not a big gambler, and that’s probably the dumbest game. I like magic. I’d go see a magic show if I had time.
What’s next for the label? We’re kind of multifocused. We are about to announce our whole barbecue series that’s touring the country, and then we have our Campout Festival which we’re doing again this year. Next up, right after the first Birdhouse show we’re all going to Movement in Detroit, where we’ll have a pop-up shop set up for the weekend … and then we’ll have a party on Sunday, and Green Velvet and I are closing the Red Bull stage on Monday. All of our crew is staying at my parents’ house, since they are still in Detroit.
They’re staying with your parents? Yeah, my parents are really fun. (laughs) They love it. They come to the shows.
Your parents are into house music? I don’t know if they’re into house music, but they come to the shows anyway (laughs). Claude VonStroke presents the Birdhouse with Danny Daze & Donmoyer, at Sundown at Daylight at Mandalay Bay, May 22.