New in Town: The DJ’s rising in Dublin’s reopened nightlife

By James Hagan

SOCO’s first public gig in the Wiley Fox was a successful sell-out set (photo credit via Rayan Bouguerra)

After 19 months of closure, Irish nightclubs have finally reopened under new COVID-19 guidelines. Now, the Irish electronic music scene has new players working to make a name for themselves and revitalise the industry. 

Dublin’s electronic music scene was struggling prior to national lockdowns – staples of the scene like Hangar and District 8 had closed, leaving only the smallest of venues with limiting restrictions to carry on the industry. 

Since the reopening of nightlife, new labels and DJs have risen from the ashes of a stagnant scene, one of which being the new electronic duo SOCO. Comprised of Jordan O’ Donoghue and Caolan ‘Slim’ O’Donnell, the pair separately have been involved in Irish music culture, have started hosting their own events in an industry desperately lacking them.

SOCO’s first event, held in the Wiley Fox on October 9th, was held as a lunch and party featuring Dublin duo Dylema, Italian guests Niz and Miche, and hosts SOCO closing out which continued into the evening, with the event selling out quickly and to great success. 

The City spoke to SOCO about starting out as a new act, their gigs and mixes they have already held, and their plan for the rest of 2021.   

The City: Why have you started SOCO?

Jordan: Myself and Slim have been DJing for years, separately and together. We know how each other play, from playing at parties or just for fun, and then we started recording our mixes. We started going back-to-back more often, and we said why don’t we try to do something together? We know how the industry works, and so many people in it, so why not? 

The City: Where did you get the name, SOCO, from?

Jordan: It’s funny how we chose that.  It means punch in Portuguese. We were brainstorming what we should call ourselves and were thinking of words like a beat. One of us thought of a punch, and Slim happened to know the Portuguese for punch off the top of his head, so SOCO it was.

The City: What are you guys hoping to achieve out of playing as SOCO?

Jordan: We’re not looking for money or fame or anything, we’re just doing it for fun. We enjoy mixing and now with these gigs, we can do that on another level. We’re just looking to have a few parties and have a good time.

Slim: We’re looking for a platform to play. At the end of the day, the reason we started was to give ourselves the opportunity to play out and host gigs in Dublin. 

The City: How do you think the pandemic has changed the Irish dance music scene?

Slim: Some venues have closed since the pandemic started but also some have taken the time to refurbish and reinvent. A lot of new artists and sounds have been born out of this. There’s been an increase in Irish labels and artists. Lockdown led to a lot of people launching new projects, like ourselves.

The City: Do you think the current environment for Irish dance music tempts artists to move abroad in order to get a full-time career out of it? 

Jordan: I think so. Our friends at Digital Indecency found it difficult in Dublin to get their name around. They’ve moved to Berlin and have kicked off over there because there is a better set-up for it over there. It’s great that they’re doing it of course, but it’d be great if Dublin was less focused on hotels and more focused on creating venues to make the next generation of musicians wants to stay here. 

The City: What’s SOCO’s plan for the rest of 2021? 

Slim: We’ve been booked for quite a few gigs coming up. Supporting a few international artists, as well as local nights. Taking the rest of 2021 to play as many events as possible and build the SOCO brand throughout the city. Hopefully another SOCO party towards the end of the year but you can catch us playing out at upcoming Resound, OMNI & Eureka parties.

The City: Do you think you emulate any artist’s style when you’re playing? 

Jordan: I don’t think I have a specific sound. It’s not just house, and it’ not just techno, but something really nice in between. One of my favourite artists, Detroit Swindle, does fantastic live sets where it’s a unique mix of genres that’s just fun to listen to, mixing stuff you know into what feels like a completely new track, which is what I try to do in sets.

The success of their first show has secured SOCO with plenty of gigs for the remainder of 2021 (photo via Rayan Bouguerra)

From the sound of SOCO’s enthusiasm, it’s clear that Dublin’s electronic scene still has plenty of fight left in it. The duo will be playing in Bowlane Social Club, the Soundhouse, and Centre Point before the end of the year. 

If you’d like to check out SOCO, the duo can be found on Instagram, @socodublin, and their mixes can be found via Slim’s SoundCloud, with links available below along with their Linktree, which hosts all their upcoming mixes and events. All photographs were supplied with permissions by event photographer Rayan Bouguerra. 

SOCO’s Instagram:

SOCO & Slim’s SoundCloud:

Photography: @rayanboug

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