Editorial Column

Dirtybird Campout 2017: Familiar Fun in a New Nest

Dirtybird Campout 2017: Familiar Fun in a New Nest
Tomas Serrano

My impressions and experiences from this year’s Campout, as well a production interview with Walker & Royce and exclusive video for their new single “Rub Anotha Dub”


The third annual Dirtybird Campout took place last weekend at its new home near Lake San Antonio in Bradley, CA.  Festival goers from across the country made the trip to the remote central California campground for a truly unique summer camp experience.

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(photo credit: Katie Laskowska)

The festival’s third year saw an expanded lineup along with the venue change – adding a second stage that heavily featured hip-hop and bass-oriented music not normally part of the Dirtybird repertoire.  Artists like Bleep Bloop, DJ Marky, and hip hop legend Madlib switched up the 4×4 mainstage beats with some of their own unique styles.  The music was definitely the star of the weekend – with so many world-renowned DJs and artists throwing down it out on top-of-the-line sound systems in the middle of nowhere, the sounds of Dirtybird Campout will be echoing in our minds for weeks to come.  But even as the music united then collectively blew us away, Dirtybird Campout proved once again that it is so much more than your average music festival.  It’s the summer camp experience you never imagined you’d get to have again.

Campers new and old made their way into the campgrounds as early as Thursday afternoon to lock down prime spots in the many available shady areas.  These early birds also found that they had the advantage of being considerably closer to the festival grounds once they opened on Friday (pro tip: an early bird arrival pass is always a solid investment.)  About a half mile separated the camping and festival areas, and three days of back and forth through extreme temperatures on both ends of the spectrum made for an exhausting experience for many.  While the trees provided a decent amount of shade, they also seemed to create a trap for a lot of the dust that was kicked up by people driving, walking, and especially dancing.  Despite the conditions and far-spread layout of the festival grounds, Dirtybird Campout  was a success in so many ways as the always-energized Dirtybird crew and their devoted flock of campers kept the energy going until the music stopped in the early hours of Monday morning.

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(photo credit: Watchara)


Throughout the weekend, world-renowned DJs could be seen dancing amongst crowds of happy campers before taking their place behind the decks.  In addition to long nights of dancing, days were spent watching onesied hippies attempt to play dodgeball alongside the Dirtybird DJs, enjoying some beatboxing or standup comedy at the Bunkhouse stage, or getting their grub on at the infamous Dirtybird BBQ pit (with a newly-expanded menu).  You could make your way over to Craftopia for screen printing or totem-making or head to the Science Lab for an enlightening lecture from BrainScratch (www.brainscratch.org). With an abundance of fun and crafty activities, the harsh conditions were no match for the sheer amount of camp-themed entertainment available to all campers day and night..

Once the sun set (and after making the trip back to camp to bundle up for the long night) the dance floors lit up with totems, lasers, and beams of light cutting through the dusty air.  As the lights came on, headlining acts took the stage dropping exclusive tracks they had been saving for the special occasion that Campout has become.  Relative Dirtybird newcomers Sam Walker and Gavin Royce a.k.a. Walker & Royce stepped up to the decks at 11pm on Saturday in front of one of the biggest and most expectant crowds of the weekend.  With months of hype building behind their upcoming debut full-length (expected release date 10/20/17 on Dirtybird Records), it was no surprise that campers came in droves to hear a set full of unreleased dancefloor bangers- giving campers a special sneak peak into the future sound of Dirtybird Records.  I caught up with the pair backstage and chatted with Sam Walker about the creative process behind their new album.  You can also check out the farm-fresh music video for their new single, “Rub Anotha Dub” below:

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(photo credit: Watchara)


DR: Describe what makes your productions unique.  How do you turn a spark of inspiration into the structure of a song?


SW: So usually, it’s like you’re trying to do a certain kind of track or maybe you start a track and some of the basic elements are like other stuff you’ve done but then you just start sample hunting.  You try to find some weird stuff, pleasant-sounding, that sort of makes it unique.  Then basically the way it works is we fill up the project with all of the parts and potential areas we’re gonna go with the song and then we record everything onto one master track and start cutting down from there.


DR: Does this method help your recordings feel less mechanical, maybe more like a performance?


SW: It’s more that we’ve had a lot of things that failed when we try arranging them one by one.  You’ll be listening too many times a certain way and you start to get used to it, so we like to keep it fluid until we’re like okay, we’ve got the beginning, the drop, this other little section that will be this middle thing we can throw in there.


DR: Sort of some new riff or sample to throw some new energy in the mix.


SW: Exactly – all of that stuff will be loaded into the project already and it’s all already going in the master before we start cutting it up into different sections.  We have this big rock then start to chip away at it.


DR: So more of a sculpture than a painting.


SW: That’s basically how it happens.  I mean a lot of tracks still fail.  You think you have a cool idea and you start arranging it and you’re just like – nah.  But after working it a while we kind of started overloading the projects a bit with stuff we wanted to get in there.  If you don’t get to it great, you’ve made the track efficiently and well.


DR: Any other advice for producers out there?


SW: We also like to record a lot of natural audio rather than working with MIDI.  Psychologically I want it in concrete audio so I know it’s never gonna change.  Sometimes we’ll open up an old project and something sounds different.  One parameter’s off and it screws up the whole thing, so you end up backtracking through the project to fix it.  A lot of it is sort of tricking yourself into doing something better.  But there’s no rules you can’t break.  If something works for you, I wouldn’t worry about changing it.


Brand new music video for Walker & Royce’s “Rub Anotha Dub”:

Rub Anotha Dub by Walker & Royce & Green Velvet on VEVO.


Other than the harsh weather and dry grounds, I would personally say that the weekend was a huge all-around success.  It felt special talking shop with Walker & Royce so close to the release of their first LP – a lot had been building up since last campout so this year was definitely a culmination for them.  Their energy exploded when they took control of the Birdhouse stage later that night, throwing down one of my favorite sets in a weekend full of amazing music.

The book has closed on the third chapter of Dirtybird Campout and despite the trials incurred with a new venue and other inevitable growing pains, it’s a festival with a bright future.  The attendees, DJs, volunteers, and organizers all come together to be silly and have fun in the way that only kids (and of course the head of Dirtybird Records, Barclay Crenshaw aka Papa Bird aka Claude VonStroke) knows how. As for me – I will continue to bring my inner child and my dancin’ boots to Campout until my soles are worn and my prized badges fade in the sun.  Just remind me to bring a few more bandanas next time.

By: Dylan Royal

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(photo credit: Watchara)



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