Somewhere along the line, it seems dance music became a contest — to determine who can fist-pump the highest and glow-in-the-dark the brightest. In a somewhat ironic twist of fate, Claude VonStroke's ascension to world-class talent has coincided with this shift.
But instead of merely assimilating, the Detroit-born, San Francisco-bred producer and contemporaries on his Dirtybird label have worked tirelessly to meld their traditional take on house and techno with a bit of this big-room flair that has been invading our dance floors. In anticipation of his Sunday appearance at Phoenix Landing to celebrate the second anniversary of weekly party the Drop, we spoke with VonStroke to find out how he sees himself fitting into the current EDM upswing. You've been touring America fairly consistently for the past half-decade or more. So you've really been on the ground level to this current boom here in the States, where not just EDM, but underground spots are taking off as well. Yeah, everything is moving in America. It's amazing. It used to be that I had to go to Europe to make money and play a lot of cool gigs, but it's really changing. I can stay here. And it's fascinating, because America goes through waves really fast, and I know Europe will stay solid. But I can't tell yet if this is just going to be like, "Oh, it's huge!" And then it's not. I hope not. It'll be awesome if it stays hot for a really long time. It kind of depends on the cops, in the end really.
What about the little pockets of America, where you've never seen any semblance of a scene? You consistently play here in Boston, where there's always been a little bit of a scene, but in the past year or so it's really taken off. You know, I've always played in all the little cities, so I can't really say. Like, I've always gone all through the Southwest. I never do the actual South, like Louisiana and all that. But I will say that now when I go to Detroit or Chicago, the crowd has like tripled. Same with New York. The crowds have tripled for us.
What about some of these mega-festivals that have been cropping up around the US? Do you see yourself having a place amongst those? Yeah, for example, this summer we're having our own stage at HARD Fest [in Los Angeles]. A lot of it just depends if we can get our own area. I've been doing those festivals for a while, but just getting slotted in between this sound and that sound, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.
Do you view that as an opportunity to draw kids who may not be as deep into house music and may just be there for the rave aspect? That's all I can hope for when I'm playing in front of Calvin Harris or something. And I'm trying to make my show a little more interesting for this year. Not like cheesy, but just having some more interesting elements come in, a little more visual stuff. Just because I'm finding if you go to these festivals and you just show up with your T-shirt, it's tough! You gotta have something going on.