Jay Cunning Interview

Jay Cunning Interview

Jay Cunning is a leading figure in the new wave Hardcore and Jungle scene. He’s a podcaster, streamer, active DJ, and has held long running residencies on Kool FM, RAM Records at The End, and at the Ministry of Sound. He’s worked on the frontline of the DJ technology scene at InMusic with RANE and Denon DJ, is currently at HARMAN Professional, and was previously a DJ Tutor, record label owner, PR guru and figure in the Breakbeat scene, so he’s the perfect choice to kick off our new interview series. Find out all about Jay via his Linktree or his website Hardcore Junglist.

Jay Cunning Interview

Hear and see Jay in action

The 30 second intro – Who are you?

I’m a DJ, Podcaster, vinyl junkie and family man. Obsessed with broken beats and Old Skool flavours.

How would most people know you?

I’d say my weekly radio shows and gigs would account for the majority!

Please list your relevant links


Please let us know your next gig dates, and release schedule if you have anything coming out soon


What is your home DJ tech set up currently?

For digital sets I use a Pioneer XDJ-XZ with a Technics 1210 on the side, for my vinyl sets I have two Technics 1210’s and a Rane SEVENTY Mixer, though I’m testing out a Pioneer DJ S7. 

What do you most often play out on these days?

Mostly on Pioneer CDJs, but also do vinyl sets (don’t miss carrying record boxes around!).

What DJ tech did you use in your early days? (We’d love to see some photos!)

The same Technics 1210’s I’ve got now – 30 years old! I’ve got a pic somewhere – I’ll find it!

(And he did..)

Jay Cunning Interview

What’s on the tech shopping list? 

Oh mate, don’t get me started on that – there’s loads but here’s a shortlist! Mixer wise an S11 and Allen & Heath Xone 96, decks wise I’d like to try out the Technics MK7’s, but also the Pioneer PLX-CRSS12 which are hybrid turntables – they look a lot of fun. For speakers I’m looking to upgrade to the JBL 308P MKII’s and an LSR 310S sub. I’d also love to experiment with a DJS-1000, I love the idea of creating loads of loops, vocals and samples for my old skool sets. As for my studio livestream set up – there’s £1000’s worth of kit I wanna get!

What’s been your favourite ever gig?

Jay Cunning Interview

Lots of gigs for lots of different reasons over the year – Glastonbury and Fabric for obvious reasons but each era I’ve been a DJ has new highlights! I’d say recently for large scale event Knite Club (1 & 2) is right up there, it’s the closest I’ve ever experienced to what the vibe was back in the 90’s. For more intimate settings Riverdance, Calling The Hardcore, Devons Road & Wax On are just so special. The DJs go to town and dig deep in their collection and was an honour to be a part these events in recent years. The Wax On boys in Brum put on a cracking night and my B2B with Madcap was amazing, generally I’m not a fan of B2b but me and Elliott were in the zone! Finally, Djing at Ellis Dee’s 60th was a highlight of last year.

Talking of DJing at festivals – Can you share any tips?

Have your USBs on you at all times, you never know when an opportunity might arise to jump on the decks. Never miss an opportunity by not being prepared. (Editors note – This is great advice for any DJ).

I’ve played at lots of festivals over the years. At Glastonbury I’ve played in the Glade and The Common, both very memorable gigs. Stages are often bigger than in a club as well so more equipment can be accommodated. Festivals have a wide variety of DJs playing, which means that the stages are set up to accommodate a variety of equipment. But remember that you will have to carry any equipment you wnat to bring outside of CDJs and potential record decks. At the largest festivals like Glastonbury and Boomtown it can be over a half an hour walk from the car park to the stages for example. It’s unlikely you’ll want to carry a controller or laptop that far. (Jay used an Traktor S4 for many years for this reason). And if you need a trolley bag for your setup, remember they are pretty much useless in a field!

Be prepared. You won’t get an opportunity to do a soundcheck. However if you arrive early enough you’ll get the chance to do a tech check. Make sure that you are comfortable with the equipment you are playing on. They have booked you to play, so should be able to accommodate your equipment. Sending a diagram of how your set up works is good practice. Not necessary it you are a USB DJ though! It will be expected that you have a tech rider, let them know how much space you require (ie 1M square), whether you need a laptop stand, RCA outs, how many plug sockets etc. Take your own headphones!

Jay’s other useful tips

  • Do your exporting well in advance. Rekordbox can be slow at exporting. The speed of the USB is the influencing factor in the speed of the export. Don’t get caught out with slow USBs for this reason. (NB – Jay raised a good point that the speed of the USB doesn’t influence if the CDJs can play 3 or 4 tracks).
  • Have at least 3 or 4 USBs if you use them. I use Sandisk Extreme’s. They are robust and reliable. Have one large master USB with everything on it (keep a back up at home). Then have 2 or 3 smaller ones with the files you want to play on the night.
  • In Rekordbox you can change the colour of the lighted ring around the CDJs. Assign yours to an unusual colour so that you don’t pull the other DJs USB out.
  • Practice a changeover if it is worrying you. You can do this at home if you have CDJs or XDJs, or at a practice facility such as Pirate Studios.
  • Be on time and sober (enough – couple of drinks to calm the nerves but don’t go mad).

Throughout your career is there a piece of equipment that you have just never got on with? 

I found abacus’s pretty useless ;). Other than that I’ve had my hands on pretty much all types of DJ gear, I taught professionally for 5 years so go to experience a lot of kit and platforms.

From a DJing point of view what three things do you always take to a gig apart from USB and headphones obviously!

Good attitude, good vibes, and a portable battery charger.

Can you talk us through your productions? (If any)

I made my first record with 2 mates back in 1995, then again in 2005 with Smithmonger, and Carl from 2Sinners. In 2015 I made a track with Inch so looks like I’m due to do another one next year!

If you still have vinyl at home, how much? 

Jay Cunning Interview

I’ve got around 3000 records, I gave a lot away a few years back as I only wanted ones that really meant something to me – saying that my discogs wants list is around 4000+!

Outside of DJing and production, what tech do you use at home? 

For my live streams I have an AKG D5 mic, a DBX 266xs compressor for my output and a DBX 286s preamp for my mic. Camera wise I’ve got a Mevo start and Razer cam and a pair of JBL 3-series speakers.

Can you let us know three apps that are essential to you?

Just 3? ahahah. We’ll gun to my head it would have to be Mail, Chrome and Rekordbox

What app would you like to spread the word about? 

MediaHuman Audio converter is a great tool to convert WAVs to AIFF – I hate WAVs as they are shit with metadata like keeping cues/loops in rekordbox as well as adding artwork. (Editors note – We also love MediaHuman)

What non-music related product can’t you live without? 

Easy – my iphone!

Any DJs or producers that we should watch out for? 

Ahh man, hate this question cos I ALWAYS miss someone out! My best answer would be to check the tracklist for my shows on wearehardcore.uk – there’s soooo many new and established artists and labels that I got a lot of love for!

Been to any great clubs or events recently?

Roy’s (Ellis Dee) 60th birthday bash in Dec was just amazing, such good vibes, music and awesome people! Knite CLub 2 was equally amazing for similar reasons

Football team?

Never got into football, or any sport for that matter. Music always takes up any spare time I get outside of the family.

Book recommendations? 

Been reading a few bio’s that I’d highly recommend: DJ Rap, Dj Phantasy, Billy Bunter, Carl Cox are all great reads

Thanks to Jay for the interview – He’s a real inspiration for how passion for music can lead to a life in music. Check out our other interviews with pro and semi-pro DJs.