Dirtybird Records co-founder Christian Martin is ending an 11-year run at Mezzanine on New Year’s Eve. (Courtesy Sinful)

Christian Martin closes out Mezzanine

Dirtybird Records producer anticipates ‘emotional’ final set

For 11 years, DJ-producers and Dirtybird Records co-founders Christian Martin and Claude VonStroke (born Barclay Crenshaw) have been drawing legions of house heads into Mezzanine with their “Quarterly” electronic music parties. On Tuesday, Martin and his former Dirtybird label mate will close the South-of-Market club, which lost its lease after 16 years, with a final blowout — a New Year’s Eve bash, full of house, techno and bassy breaks.

How does it feel to be playing the final night at Mezzanine?

It’s surreal that this party is the last party ever at Mezzanine. We had such a long run there and I was at every single one of them, so this will be an emotional last set for me here.

What spurred the launch of the Quarterly parties in 2008?

We had an opportunity to throw a show [at Mezzanine] with extremely short notice, right after the new year in 2008. We packed it out, but it was still a few months until we secured our residency and began that 11-year run. It’s one of my favorite venues in any city. I will miss it and think of it fondly.

Claude VonStroke once said the reason you always close Dirtybird events is that you’re “the best.” What’s great about playing with him?

He’s got an army of fans that love hearing crazy tunes, so a wild time is pretty much guaranteed.

What’s the vibe at a Dirtybird show?

There are countless stories of people connecting and meeting for the first time. There’s something warm and comforting when you meet another Dirtybird fan out in the real world. That connection and spark are very strong.

How did you and your brother, DJ-producer Justin Martin, meet VonStroke?

We met in late 2000 when he was working at a video studio in North Beach. He helped us render out the insanely complicated Flash hip-hop video we created for Dice Raw of The Roots.

What was your role in the early days of Dirtybird?

I always thought of myself as a co-founder of the Dirtybird BBQ. Though the seeds of the label were planted when we started the park party, they didn’t start to flourish until the label’s official start in 2005. In the earliest days, from 2003 to 2005, I would secure the permit from The City, rent a van, load the system, set it up in the park, party, and then, at the end of the day, take it all down and put it away.

What was it about your set at the label’s inaugural multi-day festival in 2015 (the Dirtybird Campout), that famously made VonStroke cry?

I played a ton of throwback jams that held a lot of significance for all of us. Justin’s bootleg of Snoop Dogg’s “Beautiful” comes to mind. Also, I think my set signified the emergence from darkness into light, and he realized we made it through the whole first night without any disasters.

Early on, you admitted in an interview that you were willing to put Dirtybird’s original sound system on your credit card, just so you could “party outside and make loud music.” Is that still the goal?

I think the new, updated goal for me is spreading joy via music, which is an extension of the original goal. Music outside is still an ongoing goal, fulfilled all year at festivals and Dirtybird BBQ’s.

What’s your new year’s resolution for 2020?

To play more drum & bass sets, put out my debut album and keep pushing the boundaries of sound design and having fun.

IF YOU GO

NYE 2020: Claude VonStroke at Mezzanine

Where: Mezzanine, 444 Jessie St., S.F.

When: 9 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 31

Tickets: $80 to $120

Contact: mezzaninesf.com/events/ nye-claude-vonstroke

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