When talking about Ireland’s healthy electronic music landscape, Portlaoise isn’t a spot that comes straight to mind.
However, a group of young locals are trying to break the mould and play quality house, techno and disco across the Midlands.
“Myself and two close friends have started a night called Arcade,” explains Jordan Hearns. “We had our first night last Friday and it was great. We packed the place out and booked a second night within 24 hours.”
“To be honest with you, we put these nights on in Portlaoise because we can’t hear what we would call good music in our local nightclubs.
“A lot of us are students, so we know which DJs/venues are good and we know what we like. The problem with that though, is that we can enjoy ourselves any night of the week when we’re away for college but when we come on the weekends we’re bored. We have nowhere to go for “tunes” and nowhere to go that’s any way different.”
Jordan explains that he’s been DJing for the past three or four years, and involved in live music for longer.
“I’ve done the rounds and to my knowledge, outside of illegal functions, there aren’t any major nights or venues that would play house, techno or even disco in the Midlands.
“As much as people mouth off about how they hate being at home, everyone secretly enjoys going out in their hometown every now and then, but we found personally that these rare nights out at home were no longer enjoyable.”
“They were monotonous and for me personally, I never lasted long out on a night, just down to pure boredom. We wanted to start something where people around Laois and other areas, if they’re willing to travel, can come in for a night of underground electronic music, free of charge.
“In my own experience, electronic music in Laois isn’t exactly popular. Most people from around here who know of underground acts/DJs from going to college in a big city, be it Dublin, Galway, Limerick, or whatever. A lot of people from around here wouldn’t know of Underground music if it wasn’t for places like Hangar, Electric, District 8, etc.”
“To my knowledge, there aren’t any other collectives doing what we’re doing around here. A friend of ours is one of Block guys based in Cork, but other than him there isn’t anyone else. He’s from Portlaoise himself, but is based in Cork currently. I’d love to know of some more, but unfortunately I don’t.”
Photos from an ongoing series documenting the underground Electronic music scene in small-town Ireland by Jordan Hearns.