In the winding streets and maze of one ways of downtown LA, a little nest was built at The Well Salon and Store in the form of a pop-up store for Dirtybird Records merchandise. The head of the funky label, Barclay Crenshaw (aka Claude VonStroke) was there celebrating the previous day’s release of his new EP, The Rain Break.

I got a chance to hang out with him and hear his thoughts on his new music video, and I also picked his brain about the upcoming Dirtybird Campout and what potential campers can expect from this year’s event.

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If you had the chance to read my review for “The Rain Break” music video, then you would know I had been curious about the relationship depicted in the video. Was it a stalker situation? A girl who was cheated on? I asked Crenshaw for clarification:

BC: Theoretically she was dating the girl, and the girl cheated on her with the guy. But it’s actually interesting because it’s been interpreted in five or six different ways!

The guy that did the “Make a Cake” video, Simon Cave, wrote a treatment, and I would give feedback on it and change some things here and there and be like “I want it weirder.” But they did everything.

They shot it in New York, and we changed the plot a few times because of budget and other things. We couldn’t burn down a building in the end in the middle of New York city.

Claude VonStroke is one busy dude. Whether it’s releasing new music, throwing a BBQ, planning a campout, or performing a set, Crenshaw is always working on something. I asked him which part of his job he likes the best:

BC: I really like the A&R part, and I like the artwork. Then there are countless other tasks that are hard to do, but because I’ve been there since the first day, I’m really the only person that knows how I want everything to work, so I get asked a lot of questions every day. But it’s okay.

One of the brands we are developing is called The Birdhouse, which is the name of my radio show. It’ll be in Vegas this summer for six dates and then also at two festivals, but I can’t announce which ones yet.

It’s not only Dirtybird people. We had the inaugural party in Miami, and the guests were Soul Clap, Danny Daze, Tiga, and T.E.E.D (Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs), so it was a wide range of cool stuff. The radio show has a guest every week, and it’s [The Birdhouse] is kind of like that. It’s like a radio party, and everything that I think that’s cool.

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One thing that I couldn’t let Crenshaw escape without talking about (and that I was determined to get as much insider information on as I could) was The Dirtybird Campout that is happening in October. 2015 was The Campout’s inaugural year, and listening to Crenshaw map out how it all fell into place was actually really inspiring. Sometimes all it takes is one hell of an idea and some very lucky stars…

BC: I didn’t have a partner in May. I made a flyer, and I put it up on the Internet. It said “Dirtybird Campout — All your favorite DJs in the world.” No location. No producer. Nobody signed up. Nothing. Then The Do LaB called me, and in some weird combination of things, they had become available.

They were my first choice, and it just kept coming together. I found another person to help me with all of the ideas, and we started working on the games. It was built from zero in June. That’s really late to plan a festival in October.

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One highlight from the first year of The Dirtybird Campout was the game concept. Games and activities ran from 9am to 7pm every day. When you registered to play, you were given a colored bandana that was your team for the weekend. Games included volleyball, mini golf, ping pong, slip-in-slide, archery, row boats, basketball, volleyball, badminton, rock climbing, and a scavenger hunt.

Since The Campout is going into its second year, I wanted to know what would be changed or improved from last year, especially considering what a hit The Campout was:

BC: It’s going to be a little bit more expanded because the games idea worked. So because that concept worked, there’s going to be a new game, but I have to just not tell you what it is because I’m still begging them to build it. But it’s going to be really awesome.

We didn’t go crazy. We’re adding like 1,500 tickets maybe.

[Only 1,500! Better sign up for your chance to get yours early for when they are released!]

We’re not going like, “Oh my god, we’re going to double it,” because it would be ruined. We’re trying to keep it cool for as long as possible.

Get Tiny Photography
Photo by: Get Tiny Photography

I tried to needle a little more information from him by asking which game he was in charge of, but Crenshaw wasn’t having any of it, so I am going to put it out into the universe what I am hoping the new game is: the blob from the ’90s movies Heavyweights.

If you haven’t seen this movie, it’s about a fat camp that is taken over by Ben Stiller (that goes about as well as you can imagine it would), but this is the camp experience I have dreamed of since then:

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So that is my prediction. It is absolutely not substantiated by anything Crenshaw said other than that the game would need to be built and that Oak Canyon Park has a lake, but it’s what I want.

BC: My pet project last year was the comedy show because I had never seen anyone try to do comedy at a rave, and it turned out so good. We are absolutely going to be doing that again this year. We had a full lineup of stand-up comedians, and it was packed with people just sitting and laughing while music was playing.

The best part is we also had a talent show. The performers would enter the talent show, and they were really good. Blondtron was unbelievable.

Photo: Watchara
Photo by: Watchara

The Dirtybird Campout is such an interesting event because it promises all of the things I want from a festival, but that I’ve lately felt have been lacking due to personal setbacks (such as a really bad and ever-relapsing case of social anxiety that is often at its worst at music festivals).

I often attend fests by myself, and this leaves me wanting that sense of camaraderie that The Campout seems destined to provide. I wanted to hear from the man himself what he feels sets The Dirtybird Campout apart from other camping festivals and helps create this vibe.

BC: The Campout is really cool because all the DJs get paid the same fee, and everybody is just hanging out. There’s not a big barrier between the artists and the people. The headliners are just walking around and playing games, and the campers were just so cool last year.

It’s a really good time. It’s chill. You can decide to just do the fun stuff or party or do the fun stuff while you party. There are lots of combinations. It was the best party I’ve ever been to, and I’m not just saying that because it’s my party.

[I can verify that everyone that attended last year says this, not just Crenshaw.]

It was literally just so…ahhh. I cried. It was so hard to do it. And then it all worked, and it was an emotional moment. That’s the first time that’s ever happened.

Get Tiny Photography
Photo by: Get Tiny Photography

If there’s one thing to be said about Crenshaw, it’s this: whether he’s performing as Claude VonStroke, planning his Campout, meeting fans at a store in DTLA, or just kicking it with a little ol’ music blogger, he is present and always seems in his element.

I really appreciated getting to talk with him and hear about how he planned such an amazing festival. He is an inspirational guy to be around because you can see the passion he puts into each and every project, and I can’t wait to see what the new secret game is at this year’s Dirtybird Campout because if it comes from the mind of Barclay Crenshaw, it’s sure to be wacky, wild, and an all-out blast!

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For more info:

Claude VonStroke
Dirtybird Records
The Dirtybird Campout