In early September Cormac launched his label Polari, a platform for nightowls and lovers of the arts, whose music does not necessarily fit into ordinary conventions. The first eccentric artist on the label was Mr. Crossbreed himself, Kiwi, delivering a musically and sexually charged three tracker that goes by the name Hit Me, a motto or title that is valid for Cormac too as the ‘raving raven’ is still hit by his beloved electronic music after so many years in the business In an intimate chat and a few weeks after his art:cast Cormac chats with Torture the Artist Cormac, by thee way his real and artist name, states what made him found Polari in the first place, what he personally misses during the current pandemic, his former involvements in nightlife and club culture and about the Perfect Time.
Torture the Artist: Hello Cormac, tell us something about your day.
Cormac: Hey hello. Well, today was pretty typical of a lockdown day. I woke up and took my dog for a walk. Super nice to wake up in nature. Lots of coffee, few emails. Tonight I’ll go see a performance from Mikey Woodbridge.
I really love great grey owls. […] We have similar hair.
Torture the Artist: Your name means ‘son of a raven’ and derives from the Old Irish. Are ravens your spirit animals?
Cormac: Ha! Raven or Raving? Ravens are cool. They have significance in various traditions of bringing messages from the other worlds. <smiles> I was named after my great grandfather.
Torture the Artist: So which animal would you say matches to your character closest?
Torture the Artist: Does Polari depict the consistent further development of yourself and what you want to do at a musical level? How did the idea of founding a label come about?
Cormac: I guess everything is an evolution of what came before creatively. I hope Polari is a steady, reliably good label for artists to showcase and trust their work to. There are many things I still hope to do musically, but the label is also more about providing a platform for others and a curation experience and challenge for myself. The label has been on the cards a while. I signed the first two releases some time ago. Corona has given me time to actualise it and get it off the ground.
If I was more business focused I might’ve waited.
Torture the Artist: How much more of a challenge is it to launch a record label during a pandemic, when most electronic music, which is designed for a club-purpose, cannot be played to a wider audience, and basically lacks the attention of those who it is targeted at?
Cormac: Right? If I was more business focused I might’ve waited I guess. But the label is also for music lovers and music collectors. Clubs or no clubs, I know for myself that I dig as far into music now as I ever did. There is still a vast amount of people out there listening. That said, I’m hoping for the day when the label music can be played properly to an audience and someone can have a dance-floor magic moment to the music.
Cormac: Do you know MIKEY. I just went to see their acoustic show in Berlin and found it very moving. They are a force of nature and it was great to get totally lost in their music for an evening in these weird times.
Torture the Artist: Was your release Perfect Time on Jennifer Cardini’s Correspondant label supposed to foreshadow the launch of Polari Records, but then the pandemic got in the way?
Cormac: No, not at all. I’ve been friends with Jennifer for many years and I happened to play her the Perfect Time track. She loved it and suggested releasing alongside some remixes. I was very happy to do so.
Torture the Artist: For the first release, Hit Me, you signed London-based artist Kiwi, who’s the founder of Crossbreed, a ‘sex positive, inclusive record label and party’. Firstly, do both your approaches overlap and secondly, how much sex lies in this three tracker (excluding the instrumental version of Clack The Fan)?
Cormac: We probably have some overlapping ideology and outlook. Kiwi and I have played together and it works well, so there is some musical overlap also. My initial idea was to create a label of music that I play at the gay sex parties that I’ve played at over the years. So I guess Polari will showcase music to dance and/or to fuck to. You’ll have to check in with Kiwi to see how sexual he was feeling in the studio when he made the tracks ha!
Torture the Artist: How sexually were you feeling Alex [Editor’s note: Kiwi’s real name]?
Kiwi: Erm… honestly I can’t remember, I’m a horny fucker, so probably fairly sexual? I’ve definitely fucked to Schulze whilst being really high, and can attest to its conviction.
Torture the Artist: Cormac, what made you decide to choose an artist other than yourself to deliver the first EP of Polari?
Cormac: I see myself as a ‘sometimes’ producer. It’s not my main focus. When it happens I enjoy it but it’s sporadic really. As a DJ I curate, champion and arrange tracks to create an evening or an experience so curating a label seems like a natural extension of that.
Torture the Artist: Whats your philosophy for the label?
Cormac: Simply put: Music that I love and music that I would play in a club. Anything from 100 BPM it might be 130 BPM.
Torture the Artist: Mentioning those 100 BPM, what’s your favorite set-time to play during a night at the club and what track always gets the crowd starting to dance?
Cormac: When travelling to do a gig, then I’m usually playing mid or late set , but if local for example I could play at any time as opening times are lengthy. There are + and – to all sets. I don’t choose one set time over another, rather I’m there to help the moment happen, and I’ve learned over the years, how to make the set time work. If early, I tend to drop suggestions of what I think might happen later in the night musically, whereas in a peak time set I’m being more direct. Perhaps long closing sets are my favourite as there I can combine all aspects of my perfect night out. Being suggestive, direct, nodding to history and the future as well as playing some classics that you’d only usually hear me play if you came back to mine for an after party.
I wanted to find something that welcomed and increased a family feel for those folk who might feel that they don’t fit in.
Torture the Artist: Polari used to be a social dialect in the circus and theatre-scene in Great Britain and was also a common dialect amongst homosexual people between 1930 and 1970. Besides music, what would you like to draw attention to with Polari and what does it stand for personally?
Cormac: I chose the name as a reference to a dying part of queer culture. I liked the idea of music as a language. Polari was also spoken by hookers, and circus folk, a portion of the population who didn’t fit more ‘norm core’ society at the time. There’s a lot of discussion around inclusivity, representation and identity right now and I wanted to find something that welcomed and increased a family feel for those folk who might feel that they don’t fit in musically, scene-wise or otherwise. Odd is good and I’m a big fan of the underdog.
Torture the Artist: As an artist you’ve held residencies at several world-famous clubs like Fabric, D-Edge, Culture Box and are a Panorama Bar fixture. Is it a (future) goal of yours to gather people from around the globe at Polari events?
Cormac: Well, I haven’t thought that far ahead to be honest. It would of course be great to work with a venue to create a Polari showcase when the time is right.
Torture the Artist: What does an event have to have so that you want to visit it yourself?
Cormac: Great Music, great sound and a diversity of people respecting each other. Parties now have so much to offer. Often at the parties, I’ve enjoyed most, there are elements of sex, drugs and a style. All of those things are fun, but when anyone of them is bigger than the music then the party tends to suck eventually. So it’s music first naturally.
Torture the Artist: Did your door-experiences at Nag Nag Nag, a club night at Simon Hobart’s Ghetto nightclub in London, help you to make it past Sven Marquardt and into Berghain/ Panorama Bar? (not so serious question)
Cormac: Ha! Well over the years I think I’ve done most jobs in the club from coat check, to barman and indeed I was also the door guy at Nag Nag Nag too. That was a fun moment at a fun period in London and I’ll never forget the music at Nag and some of the looks people wore. It was such an electric time and there was a strong sense of get out there and do it yourself, make something happen.
I’m a still just a raver, who gets to live his DJ dream.
Torture the Artist: Speaking of Nag Nag Nag, was this your introduction to the electronic music scene, even though the events did not only cover this music, or when and where was your first encounter with the music?
Cormac: No not at all. I grew up listening to great music thanks to my elder brothers. New Order or Depeche Mode, I don’t remember not having music in my life. My mum comes from a talented Irish music family and I started clubbing when I was 15 years old. An illegally run rave in my hometown was where I found like-minded folk, who cared what a drum machine was. That time was the start for me in many ways, the start of my dreams also. I’m a still just a raver, who gets to live his DJ dream.
Torture the Artist: What’s a track from your childhood/ teenage years that you could still imagine or you still play at a club?
Cormac: Many to mention, I’ll go with 8th Wonder’s I’m Not Scared.
Torture the Artist: As a “raving raven”, how do you deal with the situation at the moment? Have you played any venues lately and what’s your attitude towards that issue in general?
Cormac: I’ve played a few approved socially distanced masked parties. My attitude is to take it as it comes. Perhaps things don’t revert to how they were before and that will be a good and bad thing. Everything needed a rest, a time out. I try to practice being OK with the moment I’m in, whatever that moment is. I understand that’s easier for me than for some. I’m very lucky that Corona hasnt affected me or my loved ones healthwise.
I miss looking out from the booth and seeing some primal timeless scene of people letting loose and celebrating.
Torture the Artist: What’s the thing you’re most looking forward to once the measurements are close to none?
Cormac: Dancing in large groups, sweating and hugging without caution. I miss looking out from the booth and seeing some primal timeless scene of people letting loose and celebrating. There have been a few that look like scenes straight outta the bible.. I miss that.
Interview by Holger Breuer
Styling and photography by justacoupleoftshirts