India Jordan: Let Loose
For anyone who spends their weekends savouring the sense of release that dancing alongside friends brings, the final rave pre-lockdown is an all-too-distant memory.
For India Jordan, it was Finn McCorry’s party, True, at Soup Kitchen in Manchester. Speaking over Zoom, on a sunny-but-quarantined afternoon, it’s inevitable that talk turns to parties – the sense of community at the heart of it all, bygone venues we wish we’d been to (for Jordan, it’s the storied Doncaster Warehouse in 1992), and what it will feel like when the clubs finally open again. “Imagine,” Jordan says with a grin, “back in the 80s and 90s, when pills became popular for the first time, it’s gonna to be like that. Pure ecstasy, but we won’t even have to take drugs.”
Jordan’s music oozes that feeling; ecstasy, without the ecstasy. Drawing from a myriad of dance music influences that include bassline, 90s rave and shimmering French Touch, a handful of releases on London label Local Action have seen Jordan find a cohesive meeting point for euphoria, heads-down club heaters and tenderness. On the day that we speak, Jordan is sitting outside in their backyard. Their face is flushed from a long morning cycle, and they’re repping a New Atlantis tee – the ambient label and Sunday social Jordan ran with friend Al Wootton until March this year. At one point, a big fluffy cat – Chewy – wanders along the top of the wall behind Jordan’s head. “He’s really fucking huge,” they laugh, “if I’m ever feeling like crap, I’ll just give him a hug.”
© India Jordan
“I’ve learned to enjoy the process rather than constantly comparing myself to others”
Born and raised in Doncaster, Jordan grew up in a household soundtracked by Phil Collins and Sting LPs, counterbalanced by watching, on repeat, a well-loved video of Prince’s Lovesexy tour. Jordan asked for a guitar when they were only three, and started playing properly at 10, by which time they’d also discovered trance through pirate CDs their mum picked up at car boot sales. Their teens were dedicated to hard dance and happy hardcore, particularly the Bonkers compilations, and rock bands like System of a Down and Placebo. But it was at a house party, when Jordan was 16, that they first heard Pendulum. It was a merging of two great loves: rock, and dance music.
From then on, Jordan was hooked. “Remember the MySpace Top Friends?” Jordan asks. “That’s how I found out about Hospital [Records], then I basically became obsessed”. It’s also how they discovered Black Sun Empire and Hospital Records co-founder London Elektricity; acts that, along with those teen years spent listening to hardcore tunes, helped prime Jordan’s ear for heady rave cuts and fast BPMs. During their initial forays into DJing at university, Jordan’s original DJ name was Swindle – derived from their favourite London Elektricity tune, The Great Drum & Bass Swindle.
The obsession only deepened during Jordan’s student years. They and their university friends would often take the Megabus from Hull, where Jordan was studying, to see London Elektricity play at Matter, the short-lived superclub that opened in London in 2008. In the two years Matter was operating, the club quickly established itself a hotbed for drum & bass and dubstep, hosting bimonthly residencies for Hospitality, RAM, and FWD>>. Nowadays you’re more likely to find Jordan partying in more intimate spaces such as Rye Wax or Soup Kitchen, but back then the huge space made them feel “like I’d reached heaven or some shit.” They revel in the memory: “The view from the cage on the third floor, looking down and seeing all these people with the lasers and the smoke machine below you, it was like looking through the clouds.” While Matter wasn’t open long, it has lived on, for Jordan at least. They have the club’s logo tattooed on their wrist.
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It wasn’t long before Jordan was tapping the president of the university’s DJ society for lessons. “I really had no idea what I was doing,” Jordan laughs as they recall learning to DJ. “It was like, ‘This is a needle, you put it on a record, and this is how to cue’”. Jordan was an apt pupil – by third year they were DJing out, putting on parties, and heading up the society themself. Producing, though, was another matter. Jordan admits feeling intimidated by the technical aptitude of the people around them. “It put me off for so long,” Jordan says, “I thought I’d never be good enough.” The scene in Hull, a microcosm of the industry at large, was dictated by male gatekeepers, and Jordan hated the “barrier” they put up.
“This record is me saying, ‘You’re going to have some homophobia in your life, and people are going to be shit, but you’re all fine. There’s nothing wrong with you’”
It was Finn McCorry, producer and Local Action affiliate, who helped them trust their own instincts. The two met at long-standing Hull drum & bass party Shinobi, and are now close friends, DJing together, producing together – they released their debut single, H.U.R.L/ F.U.R.L., last December – and, in lockdown, quizzing together with the rest of the Local Action family. “Finn has been really instrumental in helping me break away from that barrier that was putting me off,” Jordan says, “I’ve learned to enjoy the process rather than constantly comparing myself to others.”
Last year’s debut EP, DNT STP MY LV, was clearly the result of a producer learning to enjoy themself, exploring the full spectrum of their palette and influences. It’s follow-up, For You, released in May this year, goes one further: it’s a giddy celebration of self that reminisces on times of excitement, dejection, reflection, and growth. Produced predominantly on the move – Jordan makes most of their music on trains, drawing inspiration from “no man’s land spaces between two distant points” – the EP also serves as an indicator of what you might expect from their DJ sets: fast-paced, multifarious, unbridled fun. Opening track I’m Waiting (Just 4 U) is a sun-kissed anthem, which under normal circumstances would have been one of the summer’s most ubiquitous festival tunes. The track samples Stephanie Mills’ Put Your Body In It, but the process of getting the sample cleared was so complicated that in the end, Jordan had to remake the track entirely, replicating the feel and timbre of a live disco band from a small studio in Brighton. “It took forever,” Jordan admits. Westbourne Ave, named after the street they lived on in Hull, is a blissful ode to those early days falling in love with drum & bass and, in a low-key way, a fuck you to Hull’s drum & bass gatekeepers.
© India Jordan
But it’s the final cut on the EP that perhaps means the most to Jordan. “It’s always been a dream of mine to have a feeling and an idea in my head and to translate it into music,” Jordan says, referring to Dear Nan King. With a thumping bassline, crisp snares and blissed-out synth, the track is simultaneously propulsive and cathartic. The track is named after the protagonist of Tipping the Velvet, Sarah Waters’ 1998 lesbian historical novel that was adapted for television in 2002, The BBC dramatisation was the first time Jordan, aged 12, had experienced queer representation on television, and watching the show – something of a lesbian rite of passage – helped them to navigate their sexuality. “It really helped me realise I was gay,” Jordan reveals. “Then 17 years after seeing the show, when I finally read the book, I completely fell in love with Nan King as a character and was inspired to make this tune.”
Dear Nan King is both a nod to Jordan’s own journey of self-discovery and a hard-earned celebration after years of being subjected to homophobic abuse while growing up in Doncaster (in December last year, Jordan came out as non-binary on an Instagram post). The sampled snatch of dialogue sampled in the track, articulating the character’s moment of self-acceptance – “There’s nothing wrong with me at all,” – resonated strongly with Jordan. “It’s me,” Jordan says of the quote. “I’m saying, ‘You’re going to have some homophobia in your life, and people are going to be shit, but you’re all fine. There’s nothing wrong with you.’”
At its core, For You is just that, it’s from India, for India. The EP is a reflection of Jordan’s experiences, but it’s also a document of praise and self-compassion. “I wanted to take a moment to say look,” they say, “you’ve done this thing you’ve always wanted to do, and you should be proud of yourself.” It’s a message that they hope people will take away for themselves from the EP, too. “I hope people will come away from For You understanding who I am and what I felt like,” they enthuse, “have a nice time with it, feel a bit reflective – and be happy.”
For You is out now via Local Action Records