Jordan McCuaig aka Jordan has been instrumental in the development of Northern Ireland’s clubbing community. Starting young with his first gig at the age of 13, he joins the long list of homegrown talent putting Belfast on the map; joining Bicep, Phil Kieran, Optimo’s JD Twitch, Ejeca, and more. Between his own Nocturne Music imprint and releases on Tiga’s Twin Turbo, it has been a busy few months. Now set to release via Huxley’s No Idea Original, there’s no signs of his success slowing down. We caught up with him recently to discuss everything from Dublin gigs to tracks he plays in his sets.
Q. So Jordan, did you have a good summer for music?
A. Alright lads, yes the summer was a cracker for me. Most notably I made my debut at The Warehouse Project and AVA Festival, and a number of other festivals. I signed a release to Tiga’s Turbo Recordings, as well as celebrating one year of weekly parties at my residency with Timmy Stewart – The Night Institute. We were also a big part of the opening of a new club, Foundry where The Night Institute is now homed every Saturday!
Q. Did growing up in Belfast have a big impact on you personally and musically?
A. Naturally Belfast was the place I first started going out out. Despite having been active for many years previous in my youth on the DJ circuit, it was around the age of 16/17 that I started going to house & techno nights at the likes of Shine, Stiff Kitten & Yello, all of which I’m pleased to say I either ended up playing at regularly or held residencies at. Yello was the only real all-nighter when I was in my teens – they were bringing guests like Maya Jane Coles, Heidi & even Robert Hood over. It was the first time I’d got to experience DJs playing extended sets, and due to the later opening it was a real ‘freaks come out’ affair. All sorts. The late night clubbing thing fell on its ass due to the Free Presbyterians in government, so I started going to afterparties and began to make friends with people in the local scene who I’m still mates with these days, some I even run parties with, make music with or DJ with. In terms of DJs I used to see, Phil Kieran & Timmy Stewart were personal favourites, both of which I’m involved in projects with these days. It’s a big melting pot of people working together at the minute.
Q. I heard you first started DJing at the young age of 13, how did that all come about?
A. That’s right, I was a big fan of the commercial, energetic end of dance music due to music channels like Rapture TV. I got my first set of decks at 13, entered a Radio One competition the next year, fell under the watchful eye of a local hero of mine, Fergie, who’s now living it up in Las Vegas. Gigs started coming in due to press, basically around the fact I was a kid DJ. I was completely shite to be honest, but being thrust into regular gigs made me learn fast, both technically as well as crowd-wise. From 14-16 I played everywhere from back rooms in old working mens’ clubs to cricket clubs to Ibiza and on Radio One. It was literally any place a promoter could fit a soundsystem. It was a really exciting time and a proper grassroots learning experience.
Q. You’ve played Dublin a few times now including Longitude and District 8, what do you think of the Dublin crowd?
A. Both were belter gigs. District 8 was the perfect club really – it’s just a big fucking room with a soundsystem in it. I warmed up for Bicep. The energy when those guys come on is just on a high level (pun intended). Longitude was a strange one… in the best possible way. I’d played for the Red Bull Music Academy guys a few times before, but this time was special. I had went down with the presumption I’d be playing a load of house and disco records outside. When I arrived, The 2 Bears had it at peak time frenzy.. Donna Summer, Audion Mouth to Mouth etc. At the same time, the headliners were about to start on the main stage, so as I started, people started leaving… After about ten minutes I just started slamming it, the place ended up rammed ’til the sun went down, and even the security came up and thanked me at the end. Proper energetic workout. I’d love to be playing in Dublin more often. Everyone’s right up for it.
Q. Bicep, Hammer, Optimo and Ejeca are just a few names to come from Belfast over the last few years, what is it like to be part of this revolution of DJs to come from there?
A. All the DJ’s you mentioned there are people I admire and look up to. By no means would I place myself alongside them, but I do agree there is a real movement happening in Belfast. Some of the best, under the radar parties are happening in Belfast. There’s a real Belfast sound in my opinion. It’s tough, electronic and ballsy. In terms of DJ style, there’s a lot of diversity. As we only have a short window for the parties, there’s a lot of DJs playing really energetic, all-over-the-place sets, as opposed to one style and one level all night. I’m personally very proud of what’s happening in the city at the minute, long may it continue as everyone’s working their tits off.
Q. You launched your Nocturne Music imprint last year, what can we expect from it in the coming year?
A. As well as being a complete pedant and control freak, I’m a bit of a perfectionist. The Nocturne 002 EP has been ready about 3 times and I keep deciding tracks need changing. Maybe they do, but they probably don’t. I’ve got a very talented creative called Paul Hempstead on board creating the next series of artwork, which will be special. It’s a reflection of the unseen side of club culture – after-hours culture, nocturnal happenings. You get the drift. Oh aye, and Gerd Janson & Lauer have just contributed two amazing remixes under their Tuff City Kids guise!
Q. This coming November will see you release a four track EP on Huxley’s label, a massive achievement. Did you set the EP out specifically for the label?
A. No, not at all. Huxley had previously wanted an EP off me about a year prior, when he was originally due to start the label. There had been a few delays in the the startup, and those tracks naturally just went elsewhere. I had finished a load of new stuff and fired it his way and he wanted four of the tracks, sent an email to his management that day and got the contracts over. They’re very diverse, but generally straight up club weapons.
Q. Lastly, what tracks are doing the most damage in your sets recently?
A. There’s so much good music out there at the minute, playing for five hours every Saturday means you really have to keep it fresh to engage people. Loving the bassline workout on The Black Madonna remix of Tiga – Blonde’s Have More Fun. Redshape is killing it with Black Dust. Kink – Madame X and Playground Productionz – Orgy are heaters too. Ahh I’m terrible at track names, my Macbook has given up the ghost too so I can’t even check! Oh aye, New Order – True Faith is back on the pen drive too. Can’t beat it with a big stick!