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One of Belfast’s best loved talents Jordan McCuaig, known simply as Jordan, has been making his presence very well known in the underground music scene in Northern Ireland of late.
With over a decade of experience as a DJ, Jordan has earned himself an array of residencies in Belfast supporting the likes of Huxley, San Soda, and Gerd Janson, as well as securing himself stints abroad in Lithuania and Ibiza.
Having just released his ‘Killing Mockingbirds’ EP to rave reviews, we caught up with the DJ and producer to chat about his inspirations, background, and his upcoming set at AVA Festival.
Firstly let me start by congratulating you, you seem to be having quite the year. You’ve just released your latest EP to terrific reviews. DJ Mag giving it 9/10. How does it make you feel when a magazine of that calibre gives you a rating like that?
Thanks very much! I grew up buying DJ Mag as a kid, as well as I-DJ and Mixmag and everything local in between so it’s nice to be acknowledged by these guys, especially with the label project that I had put over a year of time and love into.
They also listed you in their top 5 Belfast artists to watch. With acts such as yourself, Ejeca and Bicep, do you think the underground music scene is rapidly advancing in Northern Ireland?
People are starting to sit up and take notice of Belfast… and so they should. The place is filled with electronic music producers, promoters and DJs. Thanks to the likes of Bicep, Ejeca & co people are starting to realise that there’s something to shout about.
Of course there’s the AVA Festival taking place also. Being from Belfast are you more excited to play a festival like that in your hometown then you would be anywhere else?
Definitely. I missed the first year of AVA as I was playing at Life another great Irish festival. I woke up and the boys in the tent beside us were telling us they’d sat up the night before listening to the Belfast Boiler Room streamed live from AVA. This year luckily I can do both and I’m very excited to be involved!
While on the topic of your hometown, what would be the ideal day out in Belfast for yourself? Any pubs / clubs in particular that stand out as being the best representation of the city?
I DJ every Saturday at our party The Night institute, where myself and Timmy Stewart play all night. We throw regular street parties too which have had the likes of Mike Dunn, Denis Sulta, Kornel Kovacs and Dixon Avenue Basement Jams join us. Apart from that I regularly play the huge Shine parties at Queens at The Limelight, and no trip to Belfast is complete without a trip to AUX, Thompsons Garage and Twitch!
Having been DJing for over a decade, how have you found the trends and styles in dance music to have changed over the years?
I started out playing techno and trance fourteen years ago, when trance was a dirty word. It seems to be penetrating house music now which is great and also a bit funny. Having been clubbing for a similar amount of time it’s cool to see new generations of teenagers get into the rave. They’re essential to a great atmosphere.
Was there a period in dance music that stuck out for you as being the best?
It’s a cliche but for me it’s now. Being able to mix up, disco, house, electro and techno and play for longer amounts of time is great. The initial excitement of being 15/16 and playing nightclubs was unbeatable but as you get older you learn more and more about what you want to be hearing in a club, and from that it helps in searching for music to play.
As well as playing house, you also play across the board with techno and even dabble with disco. Was dance music always your passion or did you grow up listening to any other genres?
I play a lot of disco at The Night Institute, but over the four hours we are always bouncing between sounds. One of the best DJ’s at playing across the board was Spencer Parker. My favourite band is The Libertines – could probably use a wee cliche about their rebellious ethos and dance music being similar but I’ll refrain…
Most people have that one record that sticks out in their mind as being the track that made them ‘fall in love’ with house music. Can you remember what record that was for you?
I can’t to be honest, but in the early days I was in to a lot of electronic sounding stuff. Audion, Booka Shade etc. Can’t beat a wee bit of Joe Smooth ‘Promised Land’ to deliver the sweaty hugs though.
Obviously the world was shocked to hear about Prince’s death last week. Was he a big inspiration for you?
Of course – We always force ourselves to put some of our ‘big tunes’ back on the shelf with fear of rinsing them to death. The one I have always struggled to put back was ‘Controversy’. Possibly one of my top five of all time. We lost a good one.
Jordan, and many other local heroes, plays AVA Festival & Conference on Saturday June 4. Full line-up and ticket information here.