We sat down with Barclay Crenshaw before one of his last Claude VonStroke shows (for now) to talk about Open Channel and its alien inspiration.
If you’re a Claude VonStroke fan, you’ve likely already heard the news that Barclay Crenshaw, the real name behind the alias, is putting that side of the project on hiatus. However, Barclay is quick to correct anyone who says Claude VonStroke is being retired, so house fans still have something to look forward to in the future. Meanwhile, the Barclay Crenshaw project has announced the Open Channel LP and tour and has dropped a teaser Detroit warehouse set to excite fans.
As one of the final (for now) Claude VonStroke shows were taking place at SILO in Brooklyn, we sat down with Barclay Crenshaw to talk about his new focus, along with the album and tour expectations. Barclay was gracious with his time even though he was a bit low energy as he was fighting a cold. But the consummate performer left his cold in the green room as he stepped onto the decks and dialed the energy up to 11 for the show, bopping around just as fans expected.
We were all blown away by the show that night, opening with bass undertones that felt more Barclay than Claude. About a third of the way into his set, we speculated that he might not play Claude VonStroke classics at all. Then he threw in a few Barclay Crenshaw-style remixes from other Dirtybird artists before delivering some of his own. Fans were elated to hear tracks like “Jolene” and “Comments” even as each had a distinct remixed wobble providing a terrific tease of the new Barclay Crenshaw sound.
Check out Barclay Crenshaw’s warehouse set that shows off his new sounds to come in 2024, and read the full interview!
Hey Barclay, thanks for taking the time to chat with us today! Sitting here in NYC with you now is surreal since I last saw you in a tiny boiler room-style show at H0L0. You travel to many cities around the globe. How do you feel about NYC versus others?
New York is great because the audience is very picky, so you really know how well you are doing.
Despite Claude VonStroke being a huge name (and we’ll get to the name change in a moment), you seem to gravitate towards more intimate settings for your tours. Is that a personal choice or simply how things have played out for you?
I used to play all the big places, but I very much like the cooler, smaller clubs. They’ve definitely got better vibes. I’ve been doing this for a long time, so now I get to pick where I want to go now more than before. It’s just more fun for me, and I’m at that age where I just want to have fun.
You officially announced your transition from Claude VonStroke to your birth name, Barclay Crenshaw, less than a month ago, and tonight is nearly your last show as Claude. Despite all the right reasons to make this change, how do you feel right now, knowing this is the end of an era?
Well, I’m not retiring it, but I’m not going to focus on it, so it’s really just going on break. I already know I’ll do more shows as Claude, but definitely not for the next year, at least. I can say that it’s not done forever, but it’s definitely on hiatus.
Along your journey, you’ve dabbled in bass music before and even had singles released as Barclay Crenshaw, so this isn’t a transition that’s completely out of left field. But why now? Do you think bass music is on the rise? Or is this an entirely personal and artistic decision?
No, actually, I think that house is on the rise right now! I don’t really know what’s going on with me, but I’m simply into something else now, and I want to focus on that. I just really want to do it while I’m feeling into it. It’s definitely a personal decision. In fact, it’s something I always wanted to do but didn’t really have the means before, yet now I can just do it. I finally feel as though I’ve saved up enough money to try something else.
You just launched your 80-Day Challenge to get to the complete Open Channel LP, and you are doing daily video updates for fans. This is a great way to hold yourself accountable, of course, but it also isn’t likely something anyone would have done a decade ago. Do you appreciate how close you are with your fans now versus then?
I just did it, so it’s a log for me, but yeah, it’s also letting the fans see behind the curtain. I think it’ll be interesting to see, along the path, that even if you think someone has it all together, they can lose their shit sometimes. They’ll fail, and mess up, and recover. And I just want to document how this really isn’t easy for anybody.
I also wanted to see what I could do when I’m really focused on producing. I’ve always been doing, like, three jobs, especially with the label, and for once, I can truly focus. So this year, it’s no label, no other jobs, just the music, just being an artist.
You’ve described the unsustainable number of projects you were working on that made you realize production, your first love, was taking a backseat. You may trust and respect the people you are handing these over to, but you must also be a little emotional at taking these steps, right?
I don’t know, that’s a really good question. It was hard, but I did a lot of work on myself. And I got over it! I’m still connected to it forever, so it’s not like I’ll never say the word “Dirtybird” again. I created it, so I’m in it. And I’m truly fascinated to see what happens with it!
Let’s wrap up on a fun one. You’ve talked about how the album name Open Channel comes from your CB usage as a kid and how you tried to reach aliens after seeing E.T. Did you ever reach those aliens, literally or figuratively? I feel like many of our generation sure feel like we did!
Oh, yeah! But I can’t share what they told me. I need to keep that a secret! [EVIL LAUGHTER]