Random Door, by Robert Alleyne

“I think doing DIY shows is a political statement,” says Katya Bitar; one half of the promotion duo Random Door. “It’s sort of like taking artistic endeavors into your own hands and creating a platform on our own for people to step on to and express themselves in whichever way that they want to,” she affirms.

Bitar and Burd started Random Door, a series of DIY shows in which you enter through an unusual entrance, in the winter of 2017. “We want to create an alternate universe that you walk into through a seemingly random door…

[to be] an escape from normal life,” says Burd. While this may seem like a whimsical idea, the true roots behind Random Door are far more nuanced because they reach into acceptance, self-expression, and for many, a coming-of-age.

“We have been passionate about creating DIY shows that are inclusive for various different artists. Up-and-coming artists, local artists who maybe don’t have the means to play bigger shows, or display their art at bigger shows,” explains Burd. “What we want is to create a show…in which various different art forms come together into one event.”

It is not just about bringing together different art forms — they want Random Door to also bring communities together through making the events all-ages. “All-ages spaces means that you are being trusted by your community to be a valid person, not based on how old you are,” explains Burd. “Not even [just] a valid person, but being trusted, rather, by your community to be a person worthy of being included, despite what age you are…[it] is important to invite people in, instead of hold people out,” she says.

“I feel like a lot of the time, as people get older, they forget what it’s like to be under 18 and to be very young. They forget how pivotal and special it is, particularly for people that age to be included in something,” says Burd.

“And to experience people doing amazing things,” interjects Bitar.

“Yeah, it’s all about the experience that people are building, especially in those pivotal years, because those people will grow up to start doing amazing things…if you let them be a part of the community,” says Burd.

Burd, by Robert Alleyne

The first Random Door was held in November 2017. If not for the smattering of young people hanging around, you would never have known the event was there. in a forgotten part of SoMa, behind a luxury apartment block and just beyond the Caltrain tracks, was the event’s location. And there, in between some shipping containers, was the Random Door to enter. Inside, the show felt fully DIY: fairy lights, port-a-potties, and stalls from independent artists led to a corner where the first band was setting up. No stage, just a corner of the room — the microphone stands serving as the only barrier between performers and revelers.

“I feel like with DIY shows, up-and-coming artists have the opportunity to be more innovative, experimental, [and] showcase stuff they had never showcased before,” she says. Bitar also believes this inspiration goes beyond just allowing artists to express themselves — it can also be a cathartic experience for those who attend as well.

“I think when people come to a space where there’s all different types of art and a bunch of different types of people and music and decorations. It’s like they feel inspired and they feel something spark up inside of them that…maybe don’t express on a day-to-day, because it’s not being supported by our economy and our society,” she says.

Katya, by Robert Alleyne

The pair believes that, in a small way, attending a night like this can serve as an act of rebellion. “I think people are weighed down by a lot of different issues of just basic survival,” says Burd. “It sometimes doesn’t leave enough room to foster your true passions. You wind up spending more time doing all the things you need to do versus the things you love to do,” she says when I ask about why they think people struggle to find their creative spark.

I ask if they think art can influence politics. They both answer “Yes!” before Bitar provides a thoughtful and succinct answer. “I feel like there’s so much that’s not being said within our everyday language and art, like a vessel for those things to be said and for those feelings to be felt,” says Bitar when discussing how art can influence politics. “Even if they’re not specifically saying, ‘My art is a political statement.’ The way that it impacts you could change the way that you see the world or [the way] you make decisions, or [the way] you vote. So in many different ways, art can change you.”

Burd adds, “whether or not it’s blatantly obvious, art and music can be a political statement that triggers an emotional response from people, like an article or a speech might not do. Mediums such as articles and speeches…have their own form of impact, and the art, it affects you in a different way,” she says.

Their upcoming event features “all-female rock and roll quartet” The She’s, as well as artist Evan Mendel, who is coming from Los Angeles to live-paint a mural. It promises to be a night that will challenge and inspire creativity, even among those who may have had to prioritize other things.

Random Door are intent on building on the San Francisco tradition of self-starting, and exploring the edges of creativity for something exciting and new. “We don’t need to rely on these structures that already exist,” says Burd when discussing the effect of art on politics. “We can create our own!”

Random Door feat. The She’s, Surfbort, Pow!, and Glove
Secret Location in San Francisco
April 21, 2018
7pm, $7