West Coast electronic music fans are no strangers to pounding kick drums, crowded dancefloors, nightclubs, warehouse parties, concerts, music festivals and multisensory raves. Yet this past weekend, the fresh and funky dirtybird Records teamed up with Los Angeles-based creators the Do LaB for the inaugural dirtybird Campout, an innovative music festival and camping adventure hybrid geared toward house music-loving adults just wanting to act like kids again. Featuring outdoor games, camping activities, interactive environments, and three days of house and booty bass, the dirtybird Campout proved there’s still room for innovation in the world of dance music events.
“I think the only person who actually did every activity was Claude VonStroke; I don’t know how he did it.”
I caught up with dirtybird Campout counselor Justin Martin to relive all the warm and very fuzzy memories of this past weekend’s festivities.
The activities were a major focal point for the dirtybird Campout. From sack races to archery, everything one would expect from an authentic summer camp experience was there. In what activities did you partake, and which most stood out to you?
I honestly tried to partake in everything! I did a little kickball, the water balloon toss, made pizzas in the Dough Lab, and even judged the talent competition. We actually had real comedians perform an actual comedy show, as well. I laughed so hard so many times, to the point of crying all weekend long.
The cool thing about Campout was that even if you did not participate and were just watching from the sidelines, the activities were really entertaining. The tug of war, for instance, was crazy because it had just rained and was super muddy. It was just absolute chaos and joy everywhere, all the time.
Was one of the goals for Campout to get people to participate in activities they wouldn’t normally do at other events?
Yes, one of the biggest goals we had was to get people to participate as much as possible, and I think we accomplished that. dirtybird worked with some amazing individuals and crews who really added so much character and made this event what it was: the Do Lab, the Grand Artique, and the Imagine Nation. It truly was a dream team. I went into the weekend saying I was going to do everything once, but maybe made it to half of it because there was so much fun stuff happening all the time. I think the only person who actually did every activity was Barclay (Claude VonStroke); I don’t know how he did it.
One thing that stood out was the vibe and camaraderie between campers, who before Campout may have been total strangers. What was your take on this?
We randomly picked each participant’s team so they couldn’t just pair up with the friends they came with. This forced people to join teams with complete strangers, and I think a lot of new friendships were made. The whole weekend was filled with the most positive feelings. Everywhere you looked, there were giant, ear-to-ear smiles on people’s faces. For me, it was definitely the feel-good weekend of the year.
You could hear music all over the festival grounds, even far away from the stage.
The sound system was so badass. Even when you were off participating in activities away from the stage, you didn’t have to miss your favorite DJ. The speakers were by Void Audio, and to say it was badass would be a total understatement. The horns looked like something from Transformers.
“Halfway through our set, it started pouring just as the sun was coming up, and we got to play it. I got goosebumps; one of the more special moments I have ever had behind the decks.”
One of the highlights was the Late Night Lodge, where the music went off format and campers howled at the moon. Seeing Claude VonStroke dropping Wu-Tang and E-40 at 5am was unforgettable. How did this come about?
Day one was more of a trippy techno vibe. One of my favorite DJs, Solar, played an all-vinyl set, and my brother, Christian Martin, played one of the most magical sunrise sets I’ve ever heard. It actually brought a few of us to tears. [For] day two, we wanted to explore our wide range of musical influences with Barclay doing his hip-hop thing, and my brother and I doing our drum & bass thing at sunrise while it rained.
That must have been a special moment.
It was really my favorite moment of the weekend. Since we had a feeling it was going to rain, we had this song ready—“The Rain” by Photek—we were planning on dropping. Halfway through our set, it started pouring just as the sun was coming up, and we got to play it. I got goosebumps; one of the more special moments I have ever had behind the decks.
Can I ask you a weird question?
Why did you have gold fingernails?
[Laughs] I was hanging out with some friends—Worthy‘s wife Brittany—and they were painting their daughter’s nails, and I wanted in. I always come back from camping festivals with my nails painted, for some reason.
At most festivals, there is always that anthem you hear going off over and over during different artists’ sets. Was there one hot song you kept hearing over the weekend?
Noooo, there wasn’t. If I’m playing a big festival, I will hit up a bunch of artists for unreleased tracks. But since all of the artists I usually would hit up were the people playing Campout, I really had to dig deep to make sure I was playing stuff no one was going to play, and I think everyone did the same. No one was biting and playing other people’s tracks; everyone had their own stuff.
Wow, that’s incredible! Was there a set this weekend that really stood out to you?
Some of the newer guys—like Billy Kenny, Will Clarke and Mikey Lion—were really impressive. Solar’s late-night set was really cool, too. There wasn’t anyone I listened to that I wasn’t into; everyone had their own vibe to them. But honestly, I think my brother’s sunrise set Saturday morning won set-of-the-weekend for me. I think he played for like three hours, and it had both me and Claude hugging in tears. It was magical!