You can't blame Barclay Crenshaw for feeling like an old man playing a young man's game. When he created his DJ-producer alter ego, Claude VonStroke, and launched his Dirtybird label, Crenshaw was already 32. "In the world of dance music, that's already, like, you're on the way out," he says. Instead, Crenshaw finds himself on the way in, a rising star and top attraction at several EDM festivals -- including HARD Summer, where he'll take the stage this Saturday -- at an age when most guys are ready to find a more respectable way to earn a living.
Asked how old he is now, Crenshaw cops to being slightly north of 40, then playfully adds over the phone from London, "You don't have to print that, by the way. It's gonna lose me some fans."
Bearded and affable, Crenshaw comes across neither as a typical DJ nor as a man worried about losing fans. You get the sense that at many of the festivals he spins at, he's sometimes mistaken for a crew member -- and that, just for a laugh, he sometimes plays along.
He owes his late start to two things: an abiding interest in filmmaking over music ("I even lived in L.A. for a minute") and a hard-drive crash that, at the time, felt like the final nail in the coffin. He was doing a live drum 'n' bass show in his hometown of Detroit and lost all his files. "So I just gave up on music," he says.
Resolving to get back into the film industry, Crenshaw moved to San Francisco (which he still calls home) and found work at a post-production house. But he couldn't resist scratching his EDM itch, and soon began borrowing gear to shoot interviews with DJs passing through town. He eventually assembled the interviews -- with everyone from Paul Van Dyk to Orbital -- into a documentary called Intellect: Techno House Progressive. Aided by the knowledge he'd gained from the interviews, he composed a soundtrack that mimicked the music of his subjects. ("We couldn't license any music because we were so broke," he explains.)