Belfast producer Jordan came to our attention last year with his killer AVA Boiler Room stream and since then, he has been booked across Europe and beyond with key gigs in Berlin, Tokyo, Copenhagen, and London alongside his weekly residency at The Night Institute at The Art Department. When it comes to his productions, his releases span across moody 4/4 rhythms and more recently looks to glamorous era of the 80s with his new EP ‘Obsession’. Out now on Liverpool’s Abandon Silence label, the EP has a big room feel to it as it draws elements of Italo and new wave to create four dance-floor focused records. It’s our favourite release from Jordan so far and really shows his growth as an artist with over a decade of experience in the industry. Around the release, we caught up with Jordan to discuss the scene in Belfast, why he’s drawn to the 80s era and the impact of touring as he continues on his successful trajectory.
Starting from the very beginning how did you get into music? What was your musical upbringing like?
In terms of electronic music, my early introduction to club culture was really a TV channel called Rapture TV that was on Sky TV. By night they filmed full DJ sets across the UK, and then in the morning when I was getting ready for school they’d have VJ’s playing house and trance with idyllic Balearic beach scenes haha. So it was accessible pretty much 24/7. It was off the back of this I asked for my first set of decks – belt drives the same as everyone else of the time. They really weren’t fit for use were they?
I’d buy records at Mixmaster Records in Belfast (which is still running – now as Belfast Underground) and collect the flyers and magazines – I still have them all in my parent’s house.
Considering you started playing out at the age of 16, what were some of your earlier clubbing experiences like?
Weirdly enough I was DJ’ing in clubs well before I was 16. My Dad used to drive me to the gigs so it was all a bit mental. We all started going ‘proper’ clubbing about 16 – minimal was really big and the Tania Vulcano Circo Loco CD was on constant repeat in the car. In Belfast we were going to Shine, Stiff Kitten & Yello to see people like Matthew Dear, Derrick May & Richie Hawtin… Then heading to Fabric, Weekend in Berlin and places like that when it was someone’s birthday and we had a bit of money to blow. People like Twitch had started putting parties on in Belfast too (they’re still going too) as I remember seeing Perc play for them and it was one of my first experiences of a DIY type party on the top floor of a bar called Lavery’s Attic and it felt very new and exciting.
Having been working in the scene from such a young age, how have you kept the passion alive and stopped yourself from burning out?
I’ve burnt out numerous times really… when I moved to Leeds for a few years I definitely burnt out. Being flung into a 24 hour city after growing up somewhere like Belfast was definitely a culture shock. I’m significantly more focused, almost ten years from that, and have a routine hat actually involves actually going to sleep every night now, meaning I can work on music every day which keeps me passionate and excited.
Living in Belfast, how would you describe the scene there? Do you feel it’s in a healthy place at the moment?
It’s both healthy and unhealthy. Creatively, there are so many producers making world-class music and a serious amount of great DJ’s. Sadly we haven’t had a government in 695 days which says a lot about the politics in the city. We just don’t have a very progressive nightlife in comparison to the rest of the UK and Europe. The biggest effect of this is that there’s very little reason to stay here if you’re 18 years old. So we’re seeing tons of students going elsewhere for university and going on to become integral parts of other scenes, both as clubbers and DJ’s/Promoters/Producers. So what you find is a lot of really interesting people leaving and not coming back, which makes a scene difficult to sustain long-term.
All that aside though, we still make it work and I’ve had some of the best clubbing experiences of my life on home turf and met my lifelong friends through the club scene here.
How does Belfast and Ireland as a whole inspire you?
What inspires me is the people who are working their balls off every day and making shit happen themselves without expecting someone else to do it for them.
We’re always told that the Irish are the best crowd, what makes them so great?
They’re loud as fuck and will drink you under the table!
Who are some of your favourite artists and parties coming out of Belfast at the moment?
There are so many it would be unfair to start listing everyone and accidentally forget some, so I’ll just mention some close mates who are a nice cross-section of promoters, label owners, producers & DJ’s.
Cromby, Black Bones, Holly Lester, Bobby Analog are all friends of mine who are getting the kudos they deserve after years of graft. There’s lots of parties pop up every few months but I always tip my hat to Twitch who are really the longest running independent party in the city. Something like 12 years I think at last count. Fair play lads!
You’re also a resident at The Night Institute, playing there every Saturday, how has this weekly experience helped your growth as both a DJ and producer?
Playing at The Night Institute all night long every week has definitely developed confidence that didn’t exist previously – as in the ability to turn up somewhere new and have all your expectations change and go in a completely different musical direction. Playing back to back with Timmy Stewart, a DJ with two decades of experience has definitely been an important factor in keeping me on my toes, as well as introducing me to a world of both old and new music.
As a producer, it means I’m constantly finding on the hunt for new music so you’re constantly opening your ears to new music and it’s a good way to avoid going stale in the studio.
Your AVA Boiler Room and Truants mix absolutely blew up, when it comes to sets that are being archived online do you tend to put a bit more preparation in them or is there still room for improvisation?
AVA was a real highlight for me. I prepared for the Boiler Room for weeks, then ended up actually having to improvise as they couldn’t find the next DJ through the crowds… But yeah with online mixes I’d usually keep in mind that people will be listening in their car or when out and about. I wouldn’t go as full on as peak time in a club, which gives the opportunity to a bit slower, weirder and try to keep things interesting. I think I’m overdue a proper club style mix for the internet now that I think about it though.
Your next EP, ‘Obsession’, is being released on Liverpool’s Abandon Silence, how did your relationship begin with the label?
I’d been in touch with Andrew Hill who runs the party and label for about a year and I was sending him stuff back and forth. I played for them for the first time last month with Motor City Drum Ensemble and Palms Trax which was a pretty solid intro to their world. We played back to back at the afters too and turned up to find Steve Davis finishing a set before us which was pretty surreal.
When it comes to signing your music to a label, do you tend to reach out to the label when it’s finished or set up a placement beforehand?
Yeah, I don’t really reach out to a label until the EP is finished. Mainly as I’ll change direction so many times in the process. Once it’s done I’ll get it properly mixed and mastered to a playable level before sending it out. Though, my DJ mates get their heads melted with 15-second videos clips right through the process so I’m not exactly great at keeping things under wraps.
What is the concept behind ‘Obsession’?
It’s just a no-frills club track really with an old animotion vocal that really works on the dancefloor. It brings together a lot of my influences – particularly the eighties and more electronic influences (as heard via the vocal) I will be retiring the arpeggiator from here though, promise.
Your releases tend to be heavily dancefloor focused, why is this?
Dancefloors and clubs, in general, are where I’ve been listening to the majority of my music for the last 15 years, I guess. Though possibly also a lack of studio confidence in certain aspects. I have spoken to a friend about doing some stuff with him on vocals but really, at the minute the club is where I plan to direct most of my energy for the foreseeable.
There’s also quite a lot of 80’s influences ingrained in them, what makes this era so special to you?
Funnily enough, I was born in 1990 but you’re right, I do have a real passion for eighties music which I would put down to the staying power of an era that produced so many records that still sound forward thinking in 2018. There’s a load of drum machines and synthesisers and flamboyance going on, which are 3 of my favourite things.
What would you say influences you the most as a producer and perhaps as a creative?
The diversity and range of new music that I hear every week would be a huge influence.
You recently got engaged, congratulations! Surely, you must have thought about some of the musical choices for the day, anything you can share with us?
Thank you! My girlfriend’s Father is a great Irish traditional musician, and one of my best friends is starting to make waves in Bristol on the folk side of things so hopefully, we’ll have a nice family and friends musical presence. Might wheel out some of the DJ’s to do their best wedding disco set too.
As you continue to get bigger does the impact of touring ever worry you? Is it something that ever crosses your mind?
This past year or so I’ve been lucky enough to play in Copenhagen, London, Tokyo & Berlin and didn’t completely rip the arse out of it. It’s my primary drive really so I’d like to hope that the years of debauchery in my youth have taught me to look after myself… Or so I’ll try and tell people anyway…
What would you like to achieve next year?
I’ve got an edits record coming out which has been getting really good support over the past few months, as well as a release scheduled on Huntley’s and Palmers. To be honest I just want to keep up a steady momentum of studio output and travel to play music as often as possible and keep meeting friendly people.
‘Obsession’ by Jordan is out now via Abandon Silence – buy here.