The Yellow Door on their Berkeley Suite night & Shelter fundraiser
The Yellow Door's Iain Kerr and Paul Dey discuss the success of their residents-only club night, and look ahead to their Shelter Scotland fundraiser
In a climate where popular clubbing events centre around big name headline acts, DJs Iain Kerr and Paul Dey have carved out a successful monthly club night in Glasgow that centres around familiarity. The duo are the sole performers at each Yellow Door event, and have called The Berkeley Suite their home since kicking off the night three-and-a-half years ago. Their sociable nights attract a devoted crowd drawn to consistently good tunes over of-the-moment guest DJs. There's a sense of underdog determination around The Yellow Door, which grew from nothing more than a pair of pals who wanted to play music they were passionate about – all night long.
Of The Yellow Door's inception, Kerr explains: "We met each other through nights out, years ago, [through] friends of friends. We used to play some tunes together at parties. I was doing another night at the time, called Waxworks, but we stopped doing it and Paul had always talked to me about doing something together at some point..."
"I'd been waiting," Dey interjects with a laugh. "It was really good timing. I remember it was about ten days before [the first Yellow Door night]. It just happened that it was a bank holiday with nothing on at The Berkeley Suite on the Sunday night. And they were like, 'yeah go for it – Optimo's on [the same evening] so good luck,'" he laughs. Kerr adds of their initial marketing strategy: "We just got pals to go down to the Barras where Optimo were performing and hand out flyers!
"The first one was just amazing," he reflects. "It was really good fun. We kind of just assumed it would be a one-off, but then The Berkeley Suite were like, 'here, do you want to do another one?' That happened a few times until they were like, 'do you just want to do it every month?'"
Of their permanent home at The Berkeley Suite, Dey explains that the atmosphere of the small venue on Charing Cross is one of the club's biggest appeals. "We just feel really comfortable there, it's got such a nice crowd."
"The crowd is really one thing that stands out for me," Kerr agrees. "It's very friendly, very welcoming. Whether it's boys or girls, everyone is very comfortable and has a great night. There's never really any trouble or hassle or anything like that. If you're with friends, or there alone, you're going to feel alright."
Of the venue set-up, Kerr adds, "Recently they've upgraded the sound system, and it's just made such a massive difference. You're using a space where they're actively investing in it, trying to make it a lot better – so that gives you a bit more encouragement in promoting it. You're not just playing to your pals in some wee basement, you're actually proud of where you're playing."
We ask the pair what sets The Yellow Door night apart from the many other parties on Glasgow’s packed clubbing calendar, and Dey responds: “I suppose the fact that we’ve never had any guests!” With a guest-led night, he explains, “you get to do the warm up, and the guest plays, and it’s a great night – but it’s not the same as getting to play all night.” Kerr agrees, reflecting that “the [club] night that I did before was with guests, and it’s just a totally different experience. That was one of the reasons we stopped the [Waxworks] night... we wanted to DJ. And [instead] we found ourselves paying people thousands of pounds to come and DJ."
The freedom from the financial constraints of booking high-profile guest performers also adds to The Yellow Door’s free-rein approach. Kerr explains: “If you look at [somewhere] like La Cheetah, they’ll have new nights coming on, and they’ll always be booking guests. It’s a really hard, competitive place, and the cost of doing that is really a strain. For me, I think part of keeping it fun was not having that pressure. People aren’t coming for a name. They’ll come down and say ‘yeah, that was a great night with those guys’ – and then they’ll come back again, and again, because they know it’s going to be us two.”
The DJs may remain the same, but at a Yellow Door night, you can expect to hear a broad-ranging selection of tunes, from ambient and trance to house and techno. Each month the duo alternate who plays first, and their mix of personal tastes means that you'll always leave a Yellow Door party with something new on your radar.
“Paul and I have slightly different tastes in music. I come from a more techno background,” says Kerr, who laughs when we point out he’s wearing head to toe black. “I’m a stereotype! I still like to play a lot of techno, and Berkeley Suite’s not really a techno club. So I think that’s quite interesting sometimes, where you get people to a point where they would never usually listen to that music, but you’re playing it and people are really responding to it.”
Dey adds: "I like house stuff, but I like to think it’s more kind of… weird. It’s not standard four-to-the-floor stuff at all."
“Yeah, your music’s definitely got a weirdness to it,” Kerr responds as they both laugh.
In person, Kerr and Dey are two down-to-earth, affable guys, and it makes sense that the pair have built The Yellow Door nights on the basis of community and inclusivity. This ethos extends to their annual Shelter Scotland fundraiser; the first, initiated in November last year, raised over £1,400 for the charity. The duo hope to smash that target this year – all money taken on the door will be donated directly to Shelter Scotland’s campaign to help the homeless in Glasgow over the Christmas period.
“My dad works for Shelter, he’s worked there for a long time,” Kerr explains. “So it’s always been something that’s important to me, and to have the opportunity to kind of give something back is something that I was really keen to do. [Last year] we also encouraged people to make donations of clothes… we made up these packages that were going to vulnerable families. These kids were getting presents for Christmas… so it was amazing to know that you’re having this positive impact. Because we’re all very lucky."
Finally, if you need any further proof that Kerr and Dey have put their heart and soul into their unassuming yet high-quality, high-energy club night, consider Kerr’s favourite Yellow Door moment to date: “My wife is from Latvia, and we had our big day over here with her family. We had our Glasgow wedding at Berkeley Suite, with The Yellow Door as the afters. So that is definitely a highlight.”
The Yellow Door Shelter Scotland Fundraiser takes place on Friday 17 November at The Berkeley Suite, Glasgow.