Artist To Artist: Jordan Nocturne & Cormac

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cormac jordan nocturne

The two Northern Ireland DJs and broadcasters talk growing up in the Belfast scene, queer clubbing and finding peace.

“I first encountered Cormac about 15 years ago when I was a resident at an after-hours queer party called Yello and he was a regular guest. Many years later we bonded over high energy house and disco. I thought it was a nice touch to pay homage to those times with this release”

Jordan Nocturne’s playful journey of reinterpreting and paying homage to the legacy of Hi-NRG is on display on his new EP for Cormac’s Polari imprint.  Cormac has recently launched his Queerly Beloved podcast, exploring the “role of music in shaping and nurturing the queer community.” As a warm interviewer, Cormac sheds light on “dance music’s queer roots and history, celebrating individual stories while emphasizing community similarities.” First season guest included Romy and Andy Butler, Fat Tony and more.


Given he’s prone to a good question he offered to interview Jordan for us, what a lovely chap. Let’s gooooo….

Cormac: You started DJing at such an unusually young age. Have you always seen DJing as a potential career choice? 

Jordan: As a long-term career, I’m not so sure, but being a DJ before DJs were so common meant that it became my identity. I’ve been playing in clubs for over half my life so I guess it’s something that will always be a part of me. Weirdly, despite not DJing at all during COVID lockdowns, I thrived creatively. I made most of the Nocturne Edits 003 at my kitchen table, which became the most successful of the series. I also collaborated with designer Andreea Ilisai to ship label prints and tees and things all over the world and released a lot of other people’s music. I think I found myself a lot less anxious than others appeared to be at that time. Maybe that means as long as I’m creating in some respect, I’ll be fulfilled, whether that’s DJ’ing, producing or otherwise.

Cormac: The collaboration with Ready In LED is supreme. How did you meet and begin working with Olya?

Jordan: I had a very focused idea of evolving the Nocturne Edits as a concept into a project where I’d work with vocalists on original material. I was hopeful I’d be able to pull together an album project with various vocalists then realised I was terribly out of my depth and ended up not using any of the tracks despite the vocalists themselves being great. I just couldn’t join the dots with club music and vocals in a way that made sense or sounded like me. I was familiar with Olya’s work as she’d collaborated with Marcello Giordani who is one half of Marvin & Guy, on Slow Motion Records. I played the track Fase Rem at ELSE in Berlin and it really stood out to me, so I reached out with some instrumentals. Olya’s voice is amazing, even her voice notes are sample-worthy. She’s also a very positive, energised person working amongst some very precarious circumstances in Kyiv, and I’m hoping we can work on some new material soon.

Cormac: Touring and gigging is fun for sure, but can be quite enduring also.. how do you manage your health? Do u have a sanity practice?

Jordan: I’m quite lucky in the sense that I’m involved in some really good parties at home, so I don’t rely on accepting touring gigs. For example, on the likes of New Year’s Eve, I’ll always play our party in Belfast, as it’s always a full house and I’m never going to play a gig as soon as that elsewhere. So, I guess having that option gives a nice balance in the first instance. The beginning of this year was pretty full on as I was working full time, had a young son, was running my parties and then travelling for gigs quite a lot on weekends. It was actually overwork rather than excess that genuinely caused me a period of very bad health and I ended up stepping back from the full time job as a result. 

For me I still enjoy a few drinks when playing, but it’s taken me a long time to know where the tipping point is. I don’t go to afterparties, I sleep before gigs rather than staying out after dinner, and I try to ensure that by Monday to be both present for my family and also able to be productive creatively.

Cormac: Do you have a very structured production routine. Are you a producer who sits and makes music 9-5 or do you go into the studio when inspired 

Jordan: I would love to have the luxury of working on music 9-5 but I have other responsibilities. On a Monday and a Friday, I have all day to myself. So that involves both prepping for gigs as well as working on music. I’m constantly sample-hunting and firing them into Ableton and beefing them up with samples and synth layers, and then often pull out the samples or replace them to make something original. Splice has been a game-changer for me in recent months in terms of capitalising on the short periods of time I have to write and finish music. I try to write ideas quite fast and then every few weeks I bring the best projects to an engineer to mix down properly which means I can spend my time being creative rather than mixing, as well as giving me accountability to kick projects into shape ahead of those sessions.

Cormac: I loved playing at the Ulster Sports Club. Belfast’s club scene is having a little renaissance lately. What do you think is so unique to Belfast in terms of clubbing.

Jordan: For years there were very few options in terms of alternative club culture. I remember being 17 and there was Shine, Thompsons Garage, Yello and Twitch and a handful of very infrequent niche parties. Now there are options for garage, grime, Italo and drum & bass alongside the traditional house and techno. I think what makes Belfast unique is the energy. People let loose. There’s also a ‘club-non-club’ element that myself and Timmy Stewart, my partner in The Night Institute talk about regularly (Timmy actually did a presentation recently to Queens University around this). By that what we mean is that club culture has often thrived in spaces that aren’t traditional clubs. The Ulster Sports Club you mentioned for example, certainly doesn’t fit the mould of a traditional nightclub space, and still retains the character of an old social club. 

Similarly, The Night Institute used to be held in the upstairs function room of a city centre boozer, and now is in an active Working Mans Club in East Belfast. The members bar is still active in the middle floor while the parties are on. Seminal club nights such as The Arts College and Shine were held in Students Unions… so you get the drift. It’s all a bit DIY and when things get a bit too polished, Belfast clubbers switch off.


Cormac: You’re quickly joining a list of notable Irish talents in electronic music production. What makes Northern Ireland /ireland so special in regards to musical talent

Jordan: Quite simply, we have to shout a little louder to get heard over here. We’re part of the UK, but for promoters to consider paying that £60 domestic flight you really have to be bringing something to the table, so I think that’s instilled a real need to prove ourselves to be recognised outside of here. As I’d just mentioned, there’s an authentic DIY culture, as in a lot of cases we don’t get afforded some of the same opportunities that exist in major European cities so people have got to do it themselves, and I think that’s what makes the creative community so special. I’m starting to feel for the first time that people in Belfast are recognising their role in the city, what the city has to offer, and believing that they can have a presence outside of here while still living and contributing here.

Jordan: As a queer person growing up in Northern Ireland, moving away from here must have been like a breath of fresh air at that time. What did you find elsewhere that was missing at home, and do you think enough has changed for you to think differently about moving away, had it been today?

Cormac: I have queer friends who stayed in Northern Ireland, or who moved away but then preferred it at home. For me, I was always looking outwards somehow. Northern Ireland was a great place in many respects, so many great people and some clubs were pretty amazing when I was there. The ceasefire was pretty new when I left and culture was still healing. I wanted other things. I think as an artist it’s a great practice to leave where you’re from, move around. I still like to do that and for me it’s a big plus of being a travelling DJ. I wanted more input, different cultures, different music, different people, different fashion. When I was growing up I heard it said often enough, “ in London you can walk down the street naked and nobody cares”. That sounded great to me. Spoiler alert, it isn’t true.

You’d be better versed to speak on it but I think club culture took a step back in Northern Ireland for so many years in the years after I left. Yet culture, and queer culture definitely took a step forward. That’s a funny paradox isn’t it. I hope if I was growing up there now it would be a very different story. There’s more acceptance of queer kids. I met a guy recently at a club who told me he went to the same school as me. He’s some years younger and said he was accepted as a gay kid. That blew my mind, it warms my heart to hear that.

Jordan: You’ve been coming back to Northern Ireland to play for as long as I can remember, usually to Belfast at the likes of Yello and the Ulster Sports Club. What would you say are the constants that define clubbing in Belfast through that time, and what are the things that have evolved and changed?

Cormac: The people for sure. Northern Ireland folk are so resilient. Not just historically but in day to day stuff also. The chat is great and The sense of humour is hard to beat. And talent.. it’s a place full of talent and that got suppressed for sure during the troubles, but now we are sprouting up in all places sharing our knowledge and understanding of music and arts and business. Also maybe because of the troubles there’s an enduring sense of mischief and lawlessness when we party. Northern Ireland parties can be wild. Honestly that gig I played with you was insane fun. Im immensely proud of Northern Ireland and all its survived and become.

Jordan: We’ve regularly chatted about our mutual love for house from a certain era. You grew up in Banbridge in Northern Ireland which has quite a definitive clubbing legacy, can you talk a little about that and whether or not you think the music you heard locally has defined how you play today?

Cormac: Honestly, I feel so lucky to have had the musical input I received as a kid and teen. Not just from raves but from my family also. As a starting block it’s been so great and I’m really very grateful.

Circus Circus was a notorious illegal rave where I grew up and it had a big impact on me. I had my first sense of community there and saw men from different religions and backgrounds hugging, high on ecstasy. Watched people express themselves dancing, enjoying themselves. It was a big game changer from the repression I felt and as the start of my musical voyage. The music of that time, the nostalgia and the feelings are still a big part of what I do musically today.

Jordan: I really enjoyed working together on our release on Polari, how are you finding wearing the hat of label owner alongside DJ, producer, vocalist and most recently podcast host? Do you find your creativity being pulled in different directions and how do you find time for everything with such a busy schedule.

Cormac: To be honest because I love all the creative things I’m up to, so I mostly enjoy the added strings. Fair enough spreadsheets and admin can be tedious but the creative side I really enjoy. At the risk of sounding a bit earnest, you know there were many years when things weren’t really happening for me as a DJ, so now I really want to enjoy it and I make the decision to do that as best I can. We just finished recording the final episode of my new Queerly Beloved Podcast yesterday, and I’m very happy with it. It will launch in early January, with an episode every fortnight. In this first series I’m interviewing Romy, Peaches, Hercules & Love Affair, Fat Tony, FKA M4A, Kim Ann Foxmann, Lakuti, Planningtorock, and Josh Caffe.

Jordan: For most people, Berlin conjures up images of hedonism and excess, but you’re there often as a sober, health-conscious person. What have you found from your time in Berlin that others might not necessarily associate with the city.

Cormac: Peace!! I find Berlin actually very peaceful, much quieter than London. I love London, still inspires me and I’m still there, but when in Berlin my weekday life is proper daddy. I walk my dog in nature and am out chatting my bad German with the little old dog walking people. I heard Berlin described recently as an unreality. And I get that. It is very easy to get lost here. I mean years ago I tasted that for sure, but for me it’s been a creative oasis. I need quiet to create and get inspired and hear my ideas. I love London also for the inspiration and street culture, you can’t beat it. I really love nature so I’m pretty happy in any city where I can walk or get away into nature.


Jordan Nocturne ‘Dolly’ EP is out on Polari now.  Buy Here Jordan will play at the inaugural The Fort Life Festival in Rajasthan, India 1-3 March for Man Power’s Me Me Me Takeover.

Cormac ‘No Tears In The Backroom Vol. 2’ compilation (featuring Jordan Nocturne) is released on Polari on 30th January.

Info on Cormac’s new podcast ‘Cormac’s Queerly Beloved’ can be found here.