One tends to assume that club ownership is a mature man’s game. It often is, with young promotion teams and great party scouts working on behalf of their employers to bring the cool to their club. Bucking the trend and braving it alone is 22 year old Tom Ketley, a scholarship student at Edinburgh University who has recently assumed ownership of Castle Clvb.
It’s a space that has previously been in the hands of many different people, few of them finding much success. The first few months of Ketley’s rein, though, has been auspicious to say the least.
Guests like Jamie XX, Disclosure, Dusky, Benoit & Sergio and DJ Sneak have all helped put the place on the map already, forging ahead in a city that has recently not offered that much for underground music heads.
We called up the man who also runs cooler than cool clothing company, We Own (which has an events arm of its own) to find out all about it...
So give us some background…. How did you first get interested in electronic music, when and where?
I grew up being a total grime/rap fan. I lived in East London from 10-14 and used to listen to Rinse FM and all the other pirate garage stations purely as I thought it was cool, when Dubstep etc started getting popular I got into that from this a think but I don’t rate it anymore to be honest. I’m more house/techno fan purely as I can’t hack the mosh pits that come with the bassy stuff.
Then did you go to Uni in Edinburgh and set up We Own? Tell us about that…
I started running student club-nights first as a way to pay my way through Uni, and then off the back of these I started doing bigger one off shows with the likes of Skream, Benga, Medhi & Riton etc. I met Marty & Theo through this as they had started making T- Shirts with the whole party lifestyle ethos. We were on the same page and I hadn’t met anyone my age with similar ideas until then so it just seemed smart that we should team up. Our next party was Tempa T & Shy FX – I remember the venue didn’t want to give us the Saturday night as they thought we wouldn’t be able to fill it, they even didn’t staff enough doormen as they thought it would be empty… it was a full on riot. I even got kicked out and from there we knew we had something. Our next event was a rave with Afrojack & Pete Tong in a 2,500 capacity Shopping Centre – we sold out and haven’t looked back throwing some of the best parties in the city to date.
I came up with the Castle Clvb name / concept etc & used my boy Marty from We Own to hone his design skills to do all the branding. I now feel we have one of the hottest venues in the country from the staff, to the artists we book...And how did you come to take over Castle Clvb? What’s the backstory? What sort of thing was it doing before you took it over and what made you think it would work?
Castle Clvb was called Berlin/The Lane/Distkikt before. It has been so many things over the past few years and failed so many times that no-one was interested in it. We’ve changed a lot but it already was a great wee space - just no-one knew about it as it was being so badly promoted.
My business partner Grum Anderson – a nightclub designer approached me with the idea. I had already been toiling about trying to open my own venue, and had done my license purely as I was fed up of filling clubs but only getting the door money when they would take all of the bar for simply opening their doors. I came up with the Castle Clvb name/concept etc and used my boy Marty from We Own to hone his design skills to do all the branding. I now feel we have one of the hottest venues in the country from the staff, to the artists we book.
What made you take the challenge on, what reservations did you have, if any?
I had loads – it is a huge responsibility and a massive stress. I’m living off barely any sleep, even now it is 0645 and I’ve been in since 11am yesterday! However, it is too good an opportunity to pass on – I’m in my final year of University where the majority of people spend their lives in the library and I haven’t been once – yet this last minute cramming strategy has worked every year so far so I just hope I can juggle it once again!
Did you/do you come across any obstacles being so young?
I’m used to that after running We Own for a year but most people think it is great that I am doing this and being so young. I think a lot of venues in Edinburgh are scared as before we threw great parties all over the city and now these are all happening at Castle Clvb but they should support us as what we are doing will only increase the scene, the want for better nights, with better music!
What were the fist things you did to/in the club? Did much need changing?
We darkened the place right down, re painted, re floored etc. Grum fitted sensory LED lighting through both main dance rooms and we brought in a Funktion One soundsystem – however we might change that as we can get a better system to fit the low ceilings we feel. We’re going to change loads more too but it was a rush to get as much done for the launch as possible as we only agreed to do it 2 weeks before we moved in.
What informs the booking policy; your own taste or…?
I just book what I feel people here should be dancing too as we want to create something that Edinburgh doesn’t have at the moment so we need to create a scene for it first almost!
And there are different nights throughout the week, right? Do you programme them all?
I programme Weds, Fri and Sats and Mondays and Thursdays are external promoters… [There is everything from student house nights to bass nights, art school and eclectic nights and then more underground house, bass and techno at the weekend.]
The motto for the place is “designed to educate, edify, amaze and uplift” – can you explain the thinking behind those words? Is there a concept in your head you are working towards or?
American Vaudeville gave us the inspiration, however we want this place to just be a party, a circus, theatre… and those words sum that vibe up perfectly I feel.
What sorts of clubs and parties have influenced your own tastes? Which are some of your favourites?
A trip to Ibiza with a friend in the know, he’d been doing seasons since he was 16 and took me to Kehakuma, Space. I met Jukes there and Tiefschwarz were playing… it was ridiculous. After that a group of my friends and I went to Newcastle for an 19th, somehow stumbled into Cosmic Ballroom - Nick Curly was playing and after that we were sold forever!
In Scotland, Sensu and Musika are doing it for Glasgow and Edinburgh but it was trips to nights like Rag’s Just Jack party in Bristol that showed me what it is all about properly.
How many hours a week does the business side take over? Do you do it yourself? I mean, you’re only just old enough to be a booze licence holder, right?!
Currently it takes up every hour of every day – I hope to eventually work Monday to Friday 9-5 and try juggle uni after that with the occasional night but at the moment it’s all hands on deck! I work the bar shifts too just as I like to see what is going on and speak to people about the club.
Are you plugging a gap in the Edinburgh scene? Are you a lone beacon of underground quality or… what’s the scene like?
Sneaky Pete’s is good for bass, it is a cool little 100 capacity club that Nick Stewart runs – he is a legend. Cab Vol once was great however commercial club owners G1 have taken over so there now so there really is not much in Edinburgh happening at all now apart from the occasional parties Musika do at Liquid Rooms, other than that we are really out on our own shining a lone beacon of underground quality indeed!
What have you got coming up at the club?
Loads… too much to list from record label showcases to some of the world’s biggest DJs. We’re going to do a secret festival in a Castle soon for all our loyal clubbers too!
3 Queensferry Street Lane - Edinburgh - EH2 4PF - Phone: 0131 629 4798
WHAT’S GOING DOWN?
Wednesday 31st – CANDYBOXX (Bouncing Weekly Wednesdays)
Friday 02nd – CHEZ DAMIER & LOVEBIRDS (Castle Clvb & HippyHippyShake)
Saturday 03rd – SATURDAZE w/ BICEP
Monday 05th – MOONSHINE (Weekly Mondays)
Wednesday 07th – CANDYBOXX w/ A-TRAK TICKETS
Friday 09th – BIXON (Act TBC)
Saturday 10th – SATURDAZE w/ MIGUEL PUENTE (Rendez-vous)
Monday 12th – MOONSHINE (Weekly Mondays)
Wednesday 14th – CANDYBOXX (Bouncing Weekly Wednesdays)
Thursday 15th – HACKMAN (#notsosilent)
Friday 16th – CASTLE CLVB RESIDENTS
Saturday 17th – SATURDAZE w/ TIGER & WOODS
Monday 19th – MOONSHINE (Weekly Mondays)
Wednesday 21st – CANDYBOXX (Bouncing Weekly Wednesdays)
Friday 23rd – TBC
Saturday 24th – SATURDAZE w/ AMIRALI
Thursday 29th – ZZZAP (Act TBC)
Friday 30th – BIXON (Act TBC)
|Castle Clvb Online|