When I caught the news of an unintentional, very special Dirtybird Records weekend coming up in Boston, I couldn’t help but dance ecstatically around my apartment, rushing to tell all my friends the great news. I couldn’t be more excited to finally have the chance to see my favorite Dirtybird artists all in one weekend, so close to home, it was like a dream come true!
With an early start to the weekend, Wednesday evening brought us to a Soul Clap Records release party with Nick Monaco at Re:Set Wednesdays, which is at The Phoenix Landing in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They’ve been known to host the best in house and techno, such as Soul Clap, Justin Martin, Claude VonStroke, Tanner Ross, Catz n Dogz, and Maceo Plex in the last two years. My fellow ladies and I strolled in at about 10ish to mellow, deep house being spun by the one and only Nick Monaco. We couldn’t help but notice that he was rocking a classic red Mickey Mouse sweatshirt and start giggling. Nick has a playful demeanor about him that made everyone feel at home as he brought the groove. The vibes were classy, top-notch lounging that slowly worked their way into sexy, hip swaying status. Time to time, I would find it hard to stop envisioning myself either sipping tequila on a tropical beach, or at a rooftop party in Miami as the sun is rising. Towards the end of the evening Bamboozle, aka Eli from Soul Clap, jumped on stage and went back to back with Nick. I wasn’t able to lay a finger on the names of any of the tracks, which means I’ve got a lot to learn from these gentlemen.
Thursday night so happened to be Nightwave at Good Life, an evening showcasing local talent lead by residents Dusty Digital and Jaminic along with a headliner who’s an inspiration to those involved. The special guest of the evening was Mark Starr, newest addition to the Dirtybird crew. Dusty got things started as he opened the night, but I only was able to catch the last half of his set. Sprinkled with bits of nu-disco and progressive house, Dusty’s sets pull dance moves out of me every time. I had the chance to meet Mark before his set while Jaminic stepped up, bringing that deep house groove that I’ve grown to love so much. I could feel the vibes rising as the night went on and as the crowd continued to grow in size, becoming full of familiar faces.
Mark stepped up to the decks, instantly setting the tone for the rest of his set with an unreleased version of Shadow Child‘s track, “The Only One.” This humble Dirtybird fledgling oozes such vibrant energy, it’s as if he brought that Florida sunshine with him on the plane. Mark got the crowd moving, melting the winter blues away, reminding us that spring is just around the corner. Selecting only the finest, sexy booty-tech house beats to seamlessly blend with dark yet tropical bass lines, which flowed into moments of funky breaks and hypnotic melodies, creating a glorious soundscape that captured everyone’s attention. The setting was perfect whether you were getting funky on the floor, or sipping on your drink as you sat back surveying the space in and around you. Riddled with more unreleased tunes that I was unsure of, I was able to spot a few of my favorites every so often. “This1 That1” by Nick Monaco & Kill Frenzy, “Turbosteppa” by Claude VonStroke & Kry Wolf, “Wheelgunner (Dub)” by Justin Martin & Ardalan, along with a personal favorite original, “Sunshine.” Of course the night wouldn’t be complete without hearing “Rood Boy.” This track is what got Mark on Dirtybird, and was just released on “Dirtybird Player’s (Part 2).” The basement has a fantastic system which pumps out that sub bass you dream of feeling, so being able to hear all these songs on a proper system is heavenly. The flow of the evening was a silky smooth ride, with the opportunity to breathe and relax just when you needed it. Everyone knew the night was coming to an end, but it didn’t bring any of us down as for we all knew that Christian was going to bring the heat to fuel us all night long Friday.
Fresh Headz and Mass EDMC collaborated to bring Christian Martin to their night, Headz Up, and I couldn’t wait to get there. One of the co-founders of Dirtybird, this man never disappoints. From the past few times that I’ve seen Christian, I’ve come to learn that he never stops, rarely coming out from behind the decks. There was no other choice but to do my best to prepare for the long evening that was ahead of me, with the possibility of seeing the sunrise in my near future. When we finally arrived at Naga in Cambridge, we walked into the front bar, where a small flock of my friends dressed in animal suits were dancing around like the creatures that we are celebrating one of their birthdays. I had a feeling there was a zoo’s worth of party animals out in full force. It turned out to be quite an interesting crowd of humans in the back room. There was plenty of the crew sprinkled here and there, getting stuck in the mass every so often trying to get back and forth from the bar.
I was bummed I missed Jaminic’s set and was only able to catch the last half of Bass Glutton’s set. He fully lives up to his name, that’s for sure. We wiggled our way to the other side of the room where we found a prime spot to post up for Christian’s set. Dark, deep, and mysterious at times, this bird really keeps you hanging onto every moment. His vast selection of tracks create serious atmospheres that help you forget where you are at any given point in time. My favorite track of the night was Justin Jay’s “Altitude.” I’ve found myself hearing it in my dreams, and at the moment I recognized it, I instantly drifted off into a daydream. Some of the other tracks I spotted were “Booty Clap” by Kill Frenzy, “The Flood” by Kry Wolf, and “Blossoms” by Munnibrotherz, which made it easy to tell who was an avid Dirtybird fan in the crowd.
We wrapped up things at Naga and headed straight to Rise, the only after hours club in Boston. The word was that Christian and Mark were playing back to back. I was giddy like spring chicken, or maybe it was all of the Red Bull I drank to stay awake. Taking control of the decks, the team dropped seemingly endless acid house, tech-funk, and booty breaks for hours with no end in sight. Suspence brought deep house to a different level all morning, going back to back with Don Fochi in the lounge. Wandering back and forth between floors made it hard to keep track of who was playing what. Eventually we couldn’t make it any longer and had to throw in the towel. It was time to rest up for the big bird coming on Sunday.
Sunday night came with a quickness. It seemed as though we had been waiting forever. I could feel myself overflowing with this bubbling energy that I knew wasn’t going to get released until Barclay, aka Claude VonStroke, stepped up to the decks. The hype behind the night was out of control, with a strict first come, first serve basis, so I made sure to arrive casually early to The Phoenix Landing for The Drop’s 2 year anniversary. I stepped in the door and felt right at home. With James Matheson on the desks, right off the bat the room was already preparing for what was to come later with smooth tech-house blended with a little funky deep house. Smiles from ear to ear everywhere I turned. Head bobbin’, body groovin’, and hip shakin’ all around. The room broke into a frenzy the moment the man himself stepped up on stage.
Barclay rarely makes an appearance on the East Coast, let alone Boston. It had been a while since his last visit, and everyone was anxious to see what he had in store. Barclay creates a special type of tech-funk house that’s minimally massive and at times extremely hypnotic, which keeps us yearning for more. He’s known for creating an atmosphere which engulfs you with every track blending perfectly into the next. His set blended disco, techno, and house influences with 4-on-the-floor beats. As a classy Dirtybird perched on stage, he smiles pleasantly every time he looks up from the decks, keeping everyone guessing his next move. He graced us with everyone’s favorites like “Dip” by Worthy, “Don’t Go (Leroy Peppers Remix)” by Justin Martin, along with some other tracks I spotted like “The Relate” by Friend Within, and “Black Girls, White Girls” by Kill Frenzy & Nick Monaco. The evening wouldn’t be complete without hearing the two infamous tracks that brought Claude to fame, “Who’s Afraid of Detroit?” and “Deep Throat.” We all broke into a frenzy when he broke down into some serious drum and bass for a few minutes towards the end of his set, leaving us in awe and craving more, yet feeling extremely satisfied. Nobody wanted this weekend to end.
The weekend was full of the playful vibe that each Dirtybird brings with them. The environment that all of these artists create spews out such infectious, positive vibes that you can’t help but smile, forget everything, and start groovin’. I couldn’t help but feel as though this weekend had three theme songs: Nick Monaco & Kill Frenzy’s “Black Girls, White Girls,” Worthy’s “Dip,” and Mark Starr’s “Rood Boy.” I was lucky enough to have the chance to chat with Mark after he got back from a Dirtybird showcase down in Miami. Read my interview below.
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[LiS] How did you first get into DJ’ing/producing and what style did you start off with?
[Mark Starr] I first got into DJ’ing around 10 years ago, my close friend let me borrow some really cruddy belt drive gemini turntables. Another friend of mine had lent me some old records just to get practicing on the basics. I saved up money working at a video rental store and purchased a pair of CDJ1000’s and never looked back really. I used to spin a little bit of everything on the side, just for fun in the bedroom. I have been really influenced by drum and bass over the years. I’ve been inspired musically a lot over the years being a DJ, I think the only real natural progression from that is to get into writing your own original music.
Production is another beast all together though. I started writing many years ago just bleeps and bloops, loops and patterns. Basic stuff, just messing around with reason 1.5 back in the day; I wasn’t even really thinking about writing professionally yet. The past few years have been a bit more intense, switching to Ableton live. I’d say things really went full pace this past March, after attending the Dirtybird BBQ in Miami. Something about the event really inspired me and set me off creatively. It was after that event, that for the next year, I’d start finding my own groove and style of production that I was really happy with in terms of content quality. I’ve been self-taught the entire time so, it’s always a constant learning experience with every new project file that I open up. It really is quite the exciting, yet sometimes frustrating journey.
I think the deep, unmatched satisfaction of watching someone smile and dance to my track is what really motivates me to keep writing. I like the notion that I have the ability to really make someone forget about their problems on the dance floor. Even if it’s for one, two, three hours… I think that escape is important for people. Also, being kind of an anthropology dork, I am really fascinated by the universal nature of dance music from region to region. I am really interested in seeing how dance music culture exists in different parts of the country, and world. I’d also say that the labels who have reached out to me, DBR, Applique, Waska, Sounds of Sumo, OWSLA, and of course Dirtybird, are responsible for pushing me as an artist and helping me grow with each project.
Since getting involved with Dirtybird, what has been your favorite experience up until now?
Since signing with the crew over at Dirtybird, it’s been impossible for me to pick a favorite moment. I think just being made part of the family is the best part of the experience so far. Everyone has been super nice and welcoming to me, more than I could have imagined. Having the pleasure of playing back to back with Christian Martin at Rise was a real treat. It was honestly like hanging out with my friends back in Tallahassee and just playing tunes back to back for fun. No pressure, and it sounded super smooth. Being able to play in front of the people I respect the most in this industry is something that I can’t really put into words, but it’s honestly one of the best feelings in the world! Miami this past weekend was great as well. Having the opportunity to represent the label with Barclay and Jessica at a dirtybird showcase has made all the recent events even more real for me. I really couldn’t be a happier person right now!
I have gotten to do more traveling than ever in the past month, so it has been cool to see each city’s different vibe. I can say though, that my experience has been nearly identical in every city. I meet random Dirtybird fans who turn out to be friends more than anything! Dirtybird has a very dedicated group of fans, honestly, I think the best fans in the world. It has been really refreshing to show up to places knowing people are expecting something in the Dirtybird ballpark. It makes my job a lot more fun, and the crowd is always groovin’!
What would be your “perfect” line up and location for a show?
The best party, is a Dirtybird BBQ party. I think a perfect lineup would be all the Dirtybird artists past and present; and of course the famous Grillson behind the grill! A big festival of all the people who have worked with, remixed, or collaborated with Dirtybird artists over the past several years. Wouldn’t that be a treat?