As far as awards go in the world of Record Labels, it does not come much better than this. Last week we witnessed Claude VonStroke’s iconic label Dirtybird be voted as Label Of The Decade by Mixmag and their readers.
As huge fans of the label ourselves, we look into why we think everyone seems to love Big Claude and his fun-loving Dirtybird. We’ve also taken the pleasure of counting down our personal favourite 10 Dirtybird tracks from over the years (a task that took far longer and caused far more office arguments than imagined), and thrown them together in a mix.
Why do we all love Dirtybird?
A more appropriate question would be “how can you not?”.
The electronic-music kings of fun. Whether it is the quirky music, the crazy (and beautiful) artwork creatures, their ‘Birdfeed’ podcast, in which half the weekly hour is spent on Claude telling mad stories, or the Dirtybird Camp Out parties they throw. Dirtybird know how to enjoy themselves, showing that the music industry is not all just about money like many believe.
Though focusing on the ‘fun factor’, they are backed up by substance; Dirtybird justify their award winning status with real credibility. The music they release can turn an average set into something memorable for the crowd, and that is what I feel Dirtybird are all about. Making memories for people to look back on.
What Genre are Dirtybird?
A genre in itself, there is not a label I struggle to describe as much as I do with Dirtybird. Each release could give you literally anything. Most releases state they are Tech House, but in truth there are elements of Techno, Bass House, Deep House, Electronica and pretty much any other genre you want if you look hard enough.
Love them or hate them, the label has undoubtedly achieved a cult like status, with people buying into the brand of Dirtybird and everything they do. The rise and fall of EDM, particularly in America, has created both an opportunity and platform for Dirtybird to succeed, and they have duly delivered. Though still considered ‘underground’, after listening to their music you can understand why the fans of big EDM have a guilty pleasure for Dirtybird. For this reason they are one of the few labels that can appeal to the masses and have a truly global impact, as many American labels struggle to break into Europe, and vice-versa.
We count down our Top 10 Dirtybird tracks of all time, and why:
10. Get Real – Snuffaluffagus (Original Mix)
When I first heard Claude VonStroke and Green Velvet, whom I would both put in the “personal hero” pool of artists, were producing together under Get Real, this is EXACTLY what I expected. Weird, wonderful, and weird. The only live crowd I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing this out to was at ‘one of those’ kind of after parties. A track that is impossible to forget once you have heard it. The name says it all.
9. Dances With White Girls, Walker & Royce – Take Me To Your Leader (Original Mix)
Dances With White Girls and recent Dirtybird regulars Walker & Royce have produced a corker here. The reason I value ‘Take Me To Your Leader’ so highly is that it is one of the only Dirtybird tracks I can slip this into those commercial gigs and not have a bar manager running over and shouting in my ear “what the hell are you doing!?”.
8. Egopool – Quartz (Original Mix)
When watching Claude Vonstroke’s live Boiler Room debut (November, 2016 – Paraguay), which I recommend you all to watch, Egopool’s powerful track ‘Quartz’ dropped out of nowhere, and immediately my phone opened up Shazam. It was a track I did not expect to hear in a Dirtybird set, but a more than welcome surprise. Leaning closer to Techno than Dirtybird, ‘Quartz’ has been a mainstay on my USBs ever since.
7. Eats Everything & Lord Leopard – Song For (Original Mix)
A solid weapon I have found myself playing since it dropped in March. Some DJ’s find Dirtybird tracks a little risky, not knowing how the crowd might take to them, which is understandable in some cases. Not this however. Dirtybird veterans Eats Everything & Lord Leopard have made a ‘Song For’ all, it is not the most extreme Dirtybird track out there, but beautifully put together to be a suitable all rounder. And that breakdown with the female vocals in the middle, bravo.
6. Justin Martin & Lena Cullen – Odyssey (Kyle Watson Remix)
Probably the most versatile Dirtybird track I have the good fortune of owning. I have played this out in Pre-Bars, Main Rooms, Festival Stages, Back Rooms, Poolside, and even at the top of a mountain in the French Alps. Where I go, this track goes. I owe a lot to Justin Martin, Lena Cullen and Kyle Watson for this.
5. Claude VonStroke – The Rain Break (Original Mix)
I was already a big fan of this track the minute it was released. It was only when I was watching a Facebook Livestream of the man himself playing on stage at The Birdhouse Miami and, well… The rain broke. Literally. The weather was certainly not on Claude’s side that night, but seeing ‘The Rain Break’ drop to a crowd of soaked listeners as they cheered on regardless, until the set was called off and the stage evacuated anyway. The track is still in the Top 10 on merit of course, but it does achieve a legendary status after that night.
4. Claude VonStroke – Barrump (Original Mix)
The official release description is “Bla bla bla bla bla… I made this record. – Claude VonStroke”. Summed up perfectly by the main man there. There is no way to really describe it, it is just Claude being Claude.
3. Get Real – Mind Yo Bizness (Original Mix)
Absolute, audio swaggery. A thick and punchy bassline, and those iconic vocals, which if you are not careful, will loop in your head all day (or week). The main track from the same release that includes the previously mentioned ‘Snuffaluffagus’, Get Real produced a timeless weapon, with enough power for the front room, and enough booty for the back room.
*whispers ‘Tuuuune’ and plays piano fingers in the air*
2. Justin Martin – Don’t Go (Dusky Remix)
A straight up classic, and the second from Justin Martin to find itself in my Top 10. It feels crazy to think this was released 5 years ago. This track ran the risk of being overplayed when it first dropped, and is a track I still find the occasional space for in my sets. The Dusky remix really is a masterpiece, though I actually find myself playing the VIP mix (below) out more in recent times.
1. Claude VonStroke – Who’s Afraid Of Detroit (Original Mix)
Probably the most predictable song to top the chart, but deservedly so. When asked to name the first Dirtybird track that had you hooked, most will answer “Who’s Afraid of Detroit”. Another track that still surfaces from time to time, despite its age (it was released in 2006, if you can believe that!), it is only fitting Claude finds himself on top. The release earned ‘Classic’ status with the recent re-vamp in 2016, with remixes from Octave One, Marc Houle and Visionquest to celebrate the 10 year anniversary. I am certainly looking forward to 2026.
I would like to finish with a huge thank you to Claude and the team at Dirtybird. I know for myself personally, and like for many others, Dirtybird has been a huge inspiration to me as a DJ and as a label owner. Though humble in his victory, I do think the Label Of The Decade winner is very clear and very deserved. Here’s to the next decade…
Check out an extra special Dirtybird mix from the 5:15 over on our Mixcloud: