In our latest feature interview, we spoke with Jordan Nocturne on his early influences, running events, becoming a father, and his greatest party memories.
“I have been Dj’ing most of my life” is a truth that many of the world’s best DJs share, but none more so than Belfast’s own Jordan Nocturne. From as young as 13, Jordan has been pumping out beats to crowds in venues and festivals, and had even played in Ibiza by 16.
Jordan’s long career has seen him in pretty much every role in the industry including light tech, promoter, record label owner, DJ, and producer. As a promoter, he is no stranger to putting on a memorable show having thrown parties in some of the most unique venues one can rave in including museum galleries and restaurants. His events at The Night Institute in Belfast have also become a popular fixture within the scene there. Alongside Timmy Stewart, the pair have seen success which Jordan accredits to the ditching of big-name bookings, instead focusing on strong residents and community. As a DJ, Jordan’s initial captivation with electronic music has resulted in a career that has seen him play all over the world with some of the biggest names in dance music and his record label Nocturne has proudly showcased many of Belfast’s talents including Ejeca and Brién to name a few.
Whether he is spinning records in a shed on Mount Fuji, or tearing up the Mixmag labs in London, Jordan Nocturne brings a rare energy and inspiring passion to his sets as he continues to show the world exactly what the city of Belfast is made of…
Interview & words: Callum Martinez
Hey Jordan, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Can you tell us about the early days? When did your love of music and DJing start?
Hi Callum. My pleasure. So growing up in Belfast, dance music was everywhere really. Youth clubs, chip shops taxis would have all had the radio or mixtapes on – always with a beat. Before school I used to watch a channel called Rapture TV which had Balearic scenes and chillout trance on in the morning, then live club streams from the likes of Slinky and the other sort of superclubs in the evening. I entered a BBC Radio One DJ competition at 13, and played my first gig in Newcastle in England that very year. I spent the next 5 years of my life travelling up and down Ireland playing clubs, festivals, bars and having the time of my life.
You were playing events as young as 16, and then eventually went to Leeds. Did it open your eyes at all being in such a musically rich city?
I felt like I’d grown a bit tired of the circuit I was playing at home – I’d fallen out of love with the high-energy trance sound that I was known for and had been going to house and techno clubs when I wasn’t DJing – there were only two at home. I was in limbo so went to Leeds to study Music Technology. It was a real lifestyle change, I was doing the lights for Back to Basics and doing some club promo and having as much fun as you can have with little money. When I came back home 4 years later I was certainly inspired by my time in Leeds and wanted to get stuck in.
How did your series of Nocturne parties in Belfast begin? Why was it important for you to start throwing parties?
Before I went to Leeds, I’d thrown a Sunday night party in Belfast which was very loose. I was DJ’ing till the wee hours then going to school the next morning. So I had already had a taste for promoting, albeit very DIY. After I came back from Leeds, about two generations of clubbers had been and gone, so I needed to find my own place again in my hometown. I started running afterhours parties in art galleries and takeaways and other weird and wonderful locations.
Over time legitimate venues wanted me to run parties – booking people like Move D, Roman Flugel, Session Victim & Prosumer over the next few years.
A few years later I launched The Night Institute with good friend and musical mentor Timmy Stewart. It was a community-focused party, we knew the majority of the dancers and eventually guest DJ’s became a rarity, focusing instead on residents and friends. We ran weekly parties for 3 years, and now do at least one party a month due to both our other commitments. It’s a real family vibe.
You also have the Nocturne label. Can you tell us a bit about how that came about?
Originally Nocturne was a vessel for me to release my own music. I’m a complete control freak and I love to learn, and I wanted to know what a label was and how the process works. Over time it’s become an extended family, with a lot of artists from Belfast that I’m proud to offer a platform for, as well as the likes of Zillas on Acid from USA, Tech Support from Brighton, Moving Still from Dublin and some more I’m probably forgetting about – sorry!
I collaborate with Romanian Designer Andreea Ilisai who is integral to the look and feel of the label, and our prints and merch has been hugely successful. It’s been a great project to work on and I’m really proud of everyone involved.
A lot of things have happened over the last few years. A global pandemic brought the events industry to a standstill, and you became a father. How have you managed to adjust?
I’ve stayed creative the whole way through. In a bittersweet way, the change of focus from DJ’ing and throwing parties to the label and studio projects has allowed me to spend more time with my son. I’ve re-calibrated my energy for the future and given me a renewed energy for music and the sort of people I want to work with. I’m definitely ready to get back to it now I’ve had a taste for the clubs over the past few weeks.
You have played in many different countries including America, Japan, and Germany. What’s your favourite party memory?
I got stuck up Mount Fuji in a thunderstorm with no data and had no way to get back to Tokyo. I ended up DJ’ing in a shed and drinking a lot of sake for two days. Was it my favourite memory? Maybe not – but it’s definitely a stand-out.
What are some golden rules that you have learned over the years?
Don’t network – build genuine relationships instead. Walk away from opportunists. Respect those who came before, and give a hand up to those who are coming next.
Sum up who Jordan Nocturne is in 3 records.
If you could work with any artist in the world, who would it be?
Let’s say Shep Pettibone as that fits with today’s soundtrack.
What’s next for Jordan Nocturne?
I’ve just come off a busy month where I dropped a record which got some amazing support from BBC Radio One, Radio Six and some of my favourite DJs. I also started gigging again, playing London and Aberdeen in the last two weeks as well as my first Mixmag Lab which was very wild. I’ve got an official remix dropping of a house classic, as well as a new Nocturne Edits. Oh and we’ve got a load of amazing parties locked in for The Night Institute as soon as we’re allowed to open our doors here in Belfast.
The Night Institute will be celebrating six years next weekend. Find out more about the event here.
You can buy the latest releases from Nocturne here.