Interview: Dom Jay

1: DJ Name and any used previously?

Dom Jay. Previously Dom J and DJ Pulse.

In the early nineties I was known as DJ Pulse and then changed to Dom J approx 1994/5ish. I didn’t really have a choice because one day I walked in to my local record shop and there in the rack was a “DJ Pulse” tune on the legendary Movin Shadow records.  Doh!

In the mid noughties, I slightly amended my DJ name to “Dom Jay”.  I just felt it was a way of moving on from a scene I had left behind but in a way that people still knew it was me. I was a Hardcore DJ in the nineties, and that then progressed to Happy Hardcore in the late 90’s and early noughties.

I won the SW Hardcore DJ Award around about 2007 but had already decided about a year before that I was going to stop playing hardcore. I was getting criticised for playing cross genres (mixing DnB, Happy Hardcore, Gabba , Breaks etc) in the same set.

It was a strange time and I just felt that I was in a musical box. As an original hardcore DJ I continued to build up a very large collection of DnB/Jungle even when the scene split. This carried on until today – so when I decided to focus on my DnB it was relatively easy for me to stop playing hardcore.

The biggest challenge was trying to get a booking as a DnB DJ after playing out consistently for about 10 years as a Hardcore DJ! So I effectively started again. I started at the bottom doing warm ups proving myself as a DnB DJ (straight after winning that SW DJ Award!). It was Tom @ Covert who really gave me my break in DnB. Simon @ BIgga Records said to Tom that I had a large DnB/Jungle collection and a should not be judged as just being a Hardcore DJ. From memory my first pure DnB event was warming up for Dillinja. I was made a resident and the rest is history – so massive thanks to Tom (who put on some legendary events) for seeing through the genre bullshit.

Having a chequered DJ background has  worked out quite well because although I am primarily known for playing DnB I regularly play out lots of other styles including House, Hip Hop and Techno. Sometimes your DJ Name gets “stuck” in a genre… so I have been very lucky. I have been part of a wide breadth of DJs and genres (in no order whatsoever!)- Original Sin, 808 State, Roni Size, K-Klass, DJ Sy, High Contrast, Danny Byrd, Slipmatt, Ellis Dee, Food Junky, Hixxy, Billy Bunter, Ramos, Vinylgroover, Brisk, Scott Brown, UFO, Dougal, Darren Styles, Ratpack, Gammer, Easygroove,Dillinja, Chase & Status, Pendulum, Sub Focus, Hype, Ms Dynamite, Friction, Scratch Perverts, Andy C, Hamilton, Top Buzz, Ragga Twins, Clarkee, Tom Real, Aquasky, Sharkey, Nicky Blackmarket, Dreadzone,  Wilkinson,  Brookes Bros,  Logistics, Mista Jam, Loadstar, Dreadzone, Serial Killaz….  and these are only from memory, so loads more! – My decks are even signed by Jazzy Jeff! I am very very lucky indeed.

2: What styles of music could one expect to hear in your sets?

It really depends on the event. I only play Vinyl so have had to be quite cute in the last few years against a backdrop of digital and CD mixing.

If it’s DnB event then expect Drum & Bass, Breaks, Dubstep and the occasional Hip Hop tune if the mood is right!

If it’s an Old Skool night then anything goes – for example, I have been lucky to play pure golden nineties house at K Klass, to underground Jungle Techno at Oldskooling. I also have my own Radio Station called so when I have time I squeeze in a show and anything goes!

I do try and be different -in a digital world it tends to be about the mix, in my vinyl world it tends to be about the music. That is in no way being derogatory to the digital DJs because I genuinely think some of the things that are being done is technically superb is just more about my approach – e.g. on vinyl there is no way  I can manipulate the mix like you can through Serato (and I used a 909 to compensate for 5 years),  so I rely on the tune, rather than the complexity/technicality of the mix. That said, sometimes I do get carried away scratching!

3: How did you get started playing out?

First event was in Charlies in 1992 (now Voodoo Lounge) – really it was me just wanting to be part of something. It was a very different time. Very few people were DJs. It was the pony tail club! Less than 2 years after that was playing in the Warehouse to over 2000 people. In the mid nineties was quite busy but by 1997 I was not really playing out very much.  I was not really into the Ibizia movement so it wasn’t until 2000/2001 that I got sucked back into things. I met Ian @ Premonition (probably the biggest promoter in Plymouth over the last decade) and it just took off again!

4: What nights/venues have you played over the years?

Pretty much everywhere in the SW. I tend to stick to Plymouth now because I am a bit long in the tooth, but always support Robin @ Rinse Out in Torquay and Exeter because he puts on the biggest parties in Devon! Big up Rob!

I am also pretty selective, as I learned a long time ago I just don’t need to play at everything. The less I play the more fun I have when I do play! (although 2015 has been pretty hectic!)

I suppose in some ways I fell through a gap in terms of recognition. Although I have been one of the most prolific DJs in the City over the last 20 years, I was probably not seen as synonymous with any aspect in time (will explain over a pint!). I tend to shy away from this stuff so that probably doesn’t help.

5:What are you currently playing?

This is probably the hardest question of all. It changes day to day! Etherwoods new album,  Blue Leaves is constantly being played mind. I also thought Prototypes last LP was stand out. Always anything by RAM – they continue to deliver dancefloor anthems but push the boundaries too.

I seemed to be getting booked more and more for my Old Skool sets – but just being very honest, it does seem to be a bit Old Skool heavy over the last 12 months so I am being a little bit more selective on these in the future.

6: Three tunes that have influenced the direction of your sets over the years?

Unsure how I can answer this – just so many. I was quite lucky in that I enjoyed several styles and genres of music side by side.  So for example, I never heard a Jungle tune and thought I must get into that, because it was always an evolution from the tunes I was playing. I never heard a house tune and thought I should be playing that, because that whole genre co existed with other genres that I also played.

In all the time I have been Djing I have been able to say “tonight I fancy playing DnB, or House, or Hip Hop, Hardcore or Breaks (I used to run Coast Breaks) or Gabba Techno”. That may have held back my career as a DJ but I wouldn’t have it any other way, because first and foremost I enjoy it that way.

Very few people will know that I have  quite a large Rotterdam Techno/Gabba collection – because I rarely play it out. For me it takes nothing away from the enjoyment of other genres, no different than me listening to Oasis today, or Jill Scott tomorrow.  Neither fall into any of the genres I regularly play, but I don’t enjoy them any less for it. It’s strange to me that some DJs and people think these music styles cannot possibly co-exist as equals.


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