His DJ career was helped in 2006 when he set up Dirtybird, the label that championed a distinctive style of party-loaded house from breaking stars like Justin Martin, Catz ‘N Dogz and Eats Everything.
Dirtybird has almost certainly been the most important factor to Crenshaw’s success, but a big part of his audience first discovered his music through his weekly radio show. Crenshaw started his show on the west coast under the name The Birdhouse, and since his first broadcast he’s gone on to air across 20 stations internationally including the London powerhouse Rinse FM.
Party showcases have also helped make the Birdhouse banner one of the key weapons in Crenshaw’s arsenal – this weekend sees him bringing the party to Room One alongside label affiliated Catz ‘N Dogz and Weiss. As we prepare to host them, he sent over a list of some of the tracks that have defined his radio show and party recently and over the last few years in anticipation.
Woman of the Ghetto (Catz ‘N Dogz Remix) – Marlena Shaw
A new one from my friends Catz ‘N Dogz – they licensed that iconic Marlena Shaw vocal and then tore it up on the production. People hear the vocal and put their hands up before they even know why they've done it. Voitek sent me a folder of a few tracks and for some reason he didn't think I would play this one but it's the only one I ended up playing. Of course the vocal has been done before but this rendition feels special. It has a really organic house feeling and then a natural build-up section into an unexpected acid line that literally blows the roof off. It's the surprise second half that makes it special for me.
Dynamite – Dr Alfred (Enrico Caruso Remix)
This one is such a bassline tune. For some reason I really associate this track with the summer in Ibiza because the bass is so simple but so full – it just feels like something you would hear in a place like DC-10. But the breakdown is what makes it special – it’s a long one and takes you all the way to the end to realize it’s actually James Brown singing. By that time you are either all the way in or you've gone for a pee break but most people get wrapped up in the vibe. This track also achieves a feeling of a big track without any swooshes or drum rolls, I always find that quite desirable.
Paranoid – Monty Luke & Tasho
This is a track I’ve played in hundreds of situations. It’s so very basic but also extremely funky. It was the second or third release on the now defunct Mothership label I used to own and run alongside Dirtybird. Mothership was the European sounding version of Dirtybird in concept. We had just sold a ton of copies of the first release by Italoboyz, but that ended up being kind of a fad record in the end. This record was what I really wanted the label to sound like, and I think you can even hear some of this vibe in my newer hip-hop stuff I’ve made as Barclay Crenshaw. I’m still friends with Monty Luke, although I rarely see Tasho nowadays.
Plezier Anthem – Plezier
I did a little re-edit of this – it’s such a massive crowd-pleaser. I still love it so much. Old school house music vibes with a massive swing. The secret to this track is that it's made by one of the hardest trap producers around. I'll not give it away as promised but if you knew who made it you might smile just as much as me when it comes on. Even without the secret it takes a very basic house sound and really makes it move to a swing that's a notch better than most other attempts. A hidden gem too – other than Justin Martin and myself I’ve never heard anyone play it before.
Transformation (DJ Hell Remix) – Tim Deluxe
This is just an incredible piece of music. It's got a very classical feeling. Maybe I like it because I played the cello and piano when I was younger. It just sets up a very simple but pretty feeling and then all of a sudden it cracks into an energetic classic house riff on piano. One of the very few 10-minute long tracks that actually earns its lengthy running time. I especially like the break where a lot of space and feeling is created, then when it cracks back in it's almost like a reset of your energy level on the dance floor. This is what I could imagine Laurent Garnier playing at an open air for a few thousand people right at dusk.