Our Record Label of the Week series allows our writers to connect with their audience in a different manner; instead of presenting a new song they enjoyed or showcasing an artist they saw live, they attempt to explain the relevance and powerful presence of an entire label. Whether it houses a plethora of genres, or sticks to a specific theme, this series aims to provide students with a glimpse backstage – at the men and women that devote their lives to offering us the music that we care so passionately about.
With iconic releases from the likes of Claude VonStroke, Eats Everything, Justin Martin, dirtybird records has brought staple dance-floor tunes since its genesis in 2005. Despite leadership from Barclay Crenshaw (aka Claude VonStroke), the San Francisco based label struggled, at first, to find an American distributor who believed in the techno / house scene as much as the founding members – Justin Martin, Barclay Crenshaw and Christian Martin – during a transitional period for the styling of music that left them without a local audience*. The support out of Frankfurt not only allowed dirtybird to prove themselves as capable artists, a promising new label, and influential djs, but it also gave them a European audience that shared their passion for tech house and “European house.” With their newfound podium across the Atlantic, dirtybird continued to foster a grassroots movement back in San Fran with their free Golden Gate Park shows. The label has featured releases from talents such as Eats Everything, GoldFFinch, Tom Flynn, KiNK, and many more to complement the initial momentum granted by Claude VonStroke and Justin Martin’s defining records between 2005 and now.
The contemporary “relevance” of dirtybird records stems from its perseverance towards a common goal: to bring life back to techno and house music within the United States. As the label states in their press kit, there has been a noticeable shift for house and techno music away from the United States towards the modern day, club-oriented European scene. Only three years after its birth in 2005, Claude VonStroke and Justin Martin began to see their dream become a reality. This “independent” San Francisco tech-funk imprint managed to throw sold out label showcases in Berlin, London, Los Angeles, New York, Amsterdam, and Moscow. Not only had these humble music lovers succeeded in bringing a struggling scene back to its domestic roots, but they had spread their consistent belief in the scene throughout the world.
Their initial decision back in 2005 to offer free shows in Golden Gate Park highlights their willingness to perform for the sake of the love of music rather than any attempts at commercial success. With that said, since their 2008 breakthrough, they have earned the support from various big names – both in the music industry and marketing campaigns. Growing from a simple notion into a powerful reality where over 1,000 people cram into sold-out shows just to experience the dance-floor enthusiasm, dirtybird records has succeeded not only at releasing sounds from talented artists around the world (United States, Germany, Poland, France, and South Africa) but also in its endeavour to “bring love back to music.” Amidst a sea of European figureheads, they have cemented their position as prominent techno-funk inspired house artists with the ability to mix, produce, inspire, and organize music across the globe. Their recent stake in Ibiza’s club scene not only gave them a home away from homes, but also serves to solidify the fruition of their mission.
Dirtybird’s accolades harbor vast and increasingly significant implications for the future of the music scenes it once struggled to distributed, but their place in the heart of thousands of fans throughout the world has confirmed what their Frankfurt faithfuls saw in them: these multi-talented creatives contribute passion and ingenuity to anything and everything they set out to achieve.
*Of course, Chicago, Detroit, New York, and even San Francisco spawned much of house’s momentum within the United States, but the dirtybird sound had not yet proved itself as worthy of falling into those elite ranks. “Neuton,” the German distributor that ended up facilitating their early distributions, foresaw the potential in both their unique sounds and passionate pursuits.
Words: Austin Bell