Claude VonStroke on his new album „Bird Brain“
housefloor.de: Your new album „Bird Brain“ is out this month. How did the album develop?
The album developed as a constant “work in progress” meaning sometimes I went back and changed tracks all the way until I was done. Because of this I think it has a nice sound that flows through the whole thing. Even though some of the tracks are drastically different from each other they are all tied together thematically.
housefloor.de: How does it differ from the album before „Beware Of The Bird“?
Claude VonStroke: It is more of a full project. The last cd was made up of all these singles I did at different times and in different studios. So it was a collection of singles and remixes whilst this one is a full album concept.
housefloor.de: For producing you prefer Reason and Ableton from other programs. Do you also use hardware? What do you answer to people saying that without hardware one cannot make unique music?
Claude VonStroke: It doesn’t even matter but yes, I use some hardware. The hardware is for breaking writer’s block. I can just play around and press keys and turn knobs for a while to break the monotonous feeling of “tracking” in software. But even so, the equipment is so irrelevant. All the programs can do 95% of what you need to do. They all sound great now. U can even make a nice track in a simple groove box I think. It is the mind that makes the track, not the gear. Your ideas are the most important asset in production.
housefloor.de: You are very successful with your label Dirtybird. What’s the secret?
Claude VonStroke: My philosophy is so very simple. Sign hot tracks and work hard to make sure people hear them. That’s it!
housefloor.de: Your second label Mothership features a more euro flavor featuring groups like Catz ‘n Dogz, Italoboyz, Maetrik and Voodeux. How does European dance music differ from dance music made in the US?
Claude VonStroke: We have the advantage (or disadvantage depending on what you like) of growing up with much more hip-hop, funk, soul and RnB music. That is the key difference in the influences of the sound.
housefloor.de: Before your success with the single “Deep Throat” you didn’t think that you could live on making music although you had been producing all over the years. What do you think is necessary to be able to live on one’s music?
Claude VonStroke: You must be willing to do the selling part as well as the making part. If you cannot sell the music to anyone or get people to hear it there is no way to be an artist as your main source of income. It is hard to come to terms with that but it is definitely true. Your music must get heard for you to make it.
housefloor.de: You have grown up with vinyl, but now you are experiencing the digital revolution as a DJ, producer and label-owner. Is digitalization more a blessing or more a curse for music makers and consumers?
Claude VonStroke: It is neither a blessing or a curse. It is the natural progression of technology. Fighting it is futile and a waste of resources so I spend my time figuring out a the best ways to work with it instead.
housefloor.de: You have lived in Berlin for some time. What do you like about the city and what don’t you like about it?
Claude VonStroke: I lived there for only 3 months last summer so it would be very hard for me to be a great judge of the overall city. I quite liked the trip and the travel for me as a DJ was so much easier. The arts and culture there are really great and the people are very nice. I did find the city a little bit more lazy feeling than I expected which was actually quite a nice surprise because we always hear that the Germans are so punctual and regimented. To the contrary, I found everyone to be super cool, laid back, and very open minded. Even so, I could never stand the winter if I stayed there. Also, while I was gone I missed San Francisco very much. I think SF is a much better place for me than Berlin. I mean, California vs. the upper right hand corner of northern Europe… Is there even a comparison to be made from the months of October to April?
housefloor.de: What are you up to in the next months?
Claude VonStroke: I am doing my album tour for several months and working on all the new releases we have coming out. I think we will have a great year!
(Interview conducted for Housefloor Webmag)