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Fresh Kicks 150: Byron Yeates

Radiant Love resident and co-founder Byron Yeates records a mix of peak time rave euphoria for the Fresh Kicks series

“It is so important for me to convey a queer narrative through my sets,” says Byron Yeates, co-founder and resident at Berlin party Radiant Love. “Or at least my interpretation of it, through particular sounds, moods, or emotions that resonate with me. Lightness and darkness, driving basslines, femme energy, and playfulness are all elements that I try to incorporate.”

In his DJ sets, which have been known to stretch well beyond the 8-hour mark, Yeates blends rave sounds old and new for maximum euphoria. ‘90s progressive house and old-school trance cuts swerve seamlessly through clusters of blissed-out modern techno, while propulsive rhythms and ecstatic melodies alchemise a recipe for astral projection via the dancefloor. It’s a high-energy style that’s taken him to DJ booths in Berghain’s Panorama Bar, Griessmuehle and Tresor, but it’s been at Radiant Love that Yeates has truly honed his sound and community-driven ethos. 

The popular underground party launched on a whim a few years ago, originally planned as a one-off event to celebrate Yeates’ friends Amelia Emma Forest and Jochem Van Bruggen’s return to Berlin. It was such a success that the trio decided to do it again and again, and it has since evolved from being a small 200-person affair to a full-scale, 1000-capacity rave, with a dedicated collective and community at its core. Promoted mostly through word-of-mouth, and curated with an attentive eye for detail and care, Radiant Love has become a jewel in the crown of Berlin’s underground club scene. Each member of the collective brings a unique expertise to the operation, with Forest curating art installations and performances, Van Bruggen acting as the booking agent, night manager and venue scout, and Yeates looking after the line-ups as well as holding down his own residency. 

“We have had an awareness team since our inception,” says Yeates. ”We employ friends as our staff and have an amazing door team. All of these elements make up a considered and safe space that we could not be more proud of. As a result of all of this, we've established a dedicated, respectful crowd that shows up in full force at each edition.”

Radiant Love grew partly in reaction to the cis-male-dominated, dark-techno-focussed atmosphere its founders saw so much of in Berlin’s clubbing landscape. Their response was to create a party that emphasised openness, respect and unapologetic elation, and it’s clear to see how natural its evolution has been. “Without much of a long-term plan in the beginning, we've learned and adapted as the party evolved,” says Yeates. “It has been an ongoing learning experience and we've been fortunate enough to have so many of our friends help shape our vision and work with us along the way to create an inclusive space that resonates with us and our crowd.”

In 2019, that vision evolved in the shape of a Radiant Love label, which DJ Mag named as one of its Labels To Watch for 2021.  Like Yeates’ own DJ sets, the label specialises in bright, hypnotic club sounds, and pulls lovingly from hedonistic ‘90s scenes. Far from being a pursuit of nostalgia though, Radiant Love’s releases are futuristic, and brimming with emerging talent. EPs like Fio Fa’s ‘You Think’ and D.Tiffany and Vani-T’s collaborative release as Pillow Queen erupt with dazzling velocity, capturing the euphoric energy of a Radiant Love party.

“Most of the music [we release] has been made by our friends or connections we've made through the party, which is really great,” Yeates told us back in January. “To release music by people we know and admire, it makes it a lot more personal.”

Earlier this month, the label released its second International Women’s Day compilation, raising funds for charities who are working with people of colour, trans sex workers and refugees in Berlin. Featuring rolling, hypnotic club tracks from the likes of Rudolf C, Roza Terenzi & D.Tiffany, Bliss Inc and Kasra V, the compilation is full of gold, and is a tradition Yeates wants to keep going in the coming years. “It’s an opportunity to invite new talent and label affiliates to contribute to causes that are meaningful to us and our community,” he says.

Yeates’ passion for dance music has been germinating since he was a child, having been immersed in his parents’ record collection for as long as he can remember. “They threw parties, DJ'd and moved us to San Francisco in the early ‘90s to be part of the rave scene there,” he explains “We constantly had music playing in our house. Deee-Lite's ‘World Clique’ album (especially the track ‘E.S.P’), The Orb’s ‘Little Fluffy Clouds’, Bjork’s ‘Big Time Sensuality (The Fluke Minimix)’, and MK’s ‘Burning (MK Extended Remix)’ are some of my earliest musical memories and to this day I adore and still play them.”

Having started collecting records for himself and DJing a decade ago this year, Yeates’ dedication to the freedom, love and joy of dance music is infectious, and can be heard clearly in Radiant Love’s regular show on the HÖR streaming channel. While the pandemic means that our chances to experience Radiant Love IRL are still up in the air, it’s an energy you can tap into below in Yeates’ Fresh Kicks mix: A full-throttle, peak time trip into pure rave catharsis. 

Image credit: Yenny Jrant