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Christian Martin

Last Night a DJ Saved My Life

The success and ascent of Dirtybird Records seems to have grown exponentially in the past few years. Dropping some of the dopest techno beats out of San Francisco, Christian Martin of Dirtybird Records has made a name for himself by busying himself in the studios and opening for huge acts such as Paco Osuna this Thursday at Mighty. After a recent successful BBQ party in Golden Gate Park where the party seemed like it would never end, Christian shares with SF Station his thoughts.

SF Station (SFS): Tell us about the origin of Dirtybird Records.

Christian Martin (CM): Dirtybird came together in late 2004. Barclay (Claude VonStroke) was putting the finishing touches on his Intellect DVD -- one of the most comprehensive studies on DJ's ever filmed. Barclay and my brother Justin created several songs for the original score; they realized that they were about 9/10ths of the way to their own label. Originally the label was called Rook Records, but Barclay realized for branding purposes it would be more cohesive to call it 'Dirtybird', aligning it with my newborn Golden Gate Park BBQ project.

SFS: What do you attribute Dirtybird Records successes to?

CM: All of the releases on Dirtybird are aimed specifically for maximum dancefloor impact. Before we were DJs and producers, we were all avid club-goers, so we have witnessed hundreds if not thousands of parties. I think under Claude VonStroke's guidance, Dirtybird has done a great job of distilling the nightclub experience into powerful individual tracks. Also, the label is influenced by a wide range of bass heavy music besides just house -- specifically, hip hop and drum n’ bass.

SFS: How did you start getting into DJing?

CM: I bought a couple of Technics 1200s from Sammy D of Kontrol in 2002, and started learning to mix with cast-off stacks of Justin's older vinyl. I decided that I would have a better chance of success if I started throwing my own parties, so I bought a sound system and started putting on Dirtybird BBQs with the help of Claude VonStroke, Justin, and Worthy.

SFS: You have collaborated with a lot of different DJs. Who are some of your favorites?

CM: Besides everyone in the Dirtybird crew, I really enjoy hearing Riva Starr do his thing. Monty Luke always surprises me with his track selection, Jesse Rose and Mike Monday both have insane energy on the decks. I was really impressed with M.A.N.D.Y.'s live show down in Mexico City a few months ago. There are so many!

SFS: What do you like most about DJing in San Francisco?

CM: I appreciate SF's comprehensive knowledge of music. Dancefloors here demand great buildups and surprising payoffs -- and if you blow it they will let you know! It keeps me searching for the newest and hottest tracks.

SFS: Since you have been San Francisco, how have you seen the dance music scene change? What would you like to see?

CM: When I arrived in SF in 2000, the sexy funky house thing was huge. It was inspiring but quickly became a bit stagnant. Becoming involved with Dirtybird gave me the opportunity to push music in a new darker and challenging direction. Judging by our growth I think people appreciate it. I am excited about the new crop of serious soundsystems in the city -- club owners are finally realizing that they must step up their sound game if they want people to show up.

I would like to see more support from San Francisco for legitimate grassroots artistic organizations like Dirtybird – we have almost outgrown our original meadow, so we are looking for sponsors just to cover the exorbitant costs of throwing a free daytime party in the larger capacity meadows in Golden Gate Park. It has been difficult because of the persistence of the "rave" stigma around our music, but we are making progress!

SFS: How do you discover new and innovative DJs like the delightful J.Phlip? Any prerequisites?

CM: We have been friends with J.Phlip for quite some time. Claude VonStroke signed her track "Rumble Rumble" in Miami this year, that was the tipping point to bring her on board as a Dirtybird DJ. Making sick tracks is the main prerequisite for catching our attention.

SFS: Advice to up and coming DJs? Words you choose to live by?

CM: Make music all the time! Go out all the time, meet promoters and club owners, start your own club night, network relentlessly on myspace and facebook… There is so much more to do than showing up and playing music for two hours! If you are not in love with music then find something else to do.

SFS: How long have you been using SF Station?

CM: Since I moved to the city actually, it was probably the first web site that pointed me in the right direction when I had no idea what the hell was going on in SF!

Catch Christian this Thursday opening for Paco Osuna at Mighty or on May 8 at Dirtybird’s big gala at Mezzanine. To get your techno on: