Special Tech DJ is a brand created by DJ Cue to release multi media projects. Originally a record store and DJ school, it now is focusing on projects from DJ Cue and other artists.
Rock The School Bells 7 - 2014
Legendary Cue’s Records Returns With New Moniker, Mission, and Concept - URB Magazine Online
Don’t Call It A Comeback...
As usual, it was a foggy afternoon in Daly City, CA. I had parked my car at the top of the hill, across the street from Cue’s Records, only to find myself jaywalking and almost getting run over by an SUV. It’s the Mid 90’s, and I’m on the hunt for a pair of Shure M44-7 DJ Turntable cartridges. Feeling absolutely determined, I didn’t even bother to wait for the light to turn green–I was on a mission. Finally making it across, I had walked into the store feeling a little anxious, not knowing what the employees were going to think of me. As I approached the counter, I quickly analyzed the room only to find records, still in their sleeves, neatly set up on the walls behind me as T-Shirts hung from their racks and posters were plastered all over the walls. At that very moment I had thought to myself, “This place is sick.” I leaned up against the glass counter-top and smiled at the man wearing a Kangol hat behind the register and I asked for the items I needed. He smiled at me, looking very surprised, then asked me nicely, “are you a DJ?”
Frank Cuevas, also known as DJ Cue, owner of Cue’s Records, and a member of the Bulletproof Scratch Hamsters/Space Travelers, was that man behind the counter I had met years ago at that chill little record shop where many Turntablists battled, Emcee’s performed, and kids kicked it after school to stay away from trouble. From 1994 to 2000, Cue’s was a destination point for many DJ’s because of its eclectic record pool. DJ’s not only purchased wax– but they also bought clothing, accessories and equipment from the store. Vinyl was truly alive and thriving. Fast forward to 2013, Frank Cuevas, the DJ, techie, and entrepreneur, has made his way back into the scene with a new business venture hoping to make an impact on the community, yet again. This time specializing in not only in keeping Vinyl alive, but educating the youth in a positive way by teaching them the fundamentals of Turntablism and mixing. This latest venture will also provide equipment repair and previous services all within one establishment...and then some. From the foundation of Cue’s Records, Special Tech DJ will be opening its doors on Saturday, October 19th in the city of San Bruno, CA.
Inkfat: How did you get the name Special Tech DJ?
DJ Cue: Special Tech DJ was originally a game character I had created– a Technician DJ in a virtual world whose mission was to make music or DJ through certain missions or game levels. This character was inspired by the experiences I had when I worked at Lucasfilm. Working at Lucasfilm provided me insights as to what really goes into video games as well as the many forms of game play. After much iteration, Special Tech DJ became a character I could relate: a DJ with Tech skills able to fix technical problems at a moment’s notice—a Special Tech DJ.
Inkfat: Who are the founders and/or people involved with this project?
DJ Cue: I’m the founder of the company. I took the character idea and used it for the business name. As a business, not a game character, it was supposed to be a tech shop to fix computers and a contract-type of business where we would have clients and go out to their businesses and take care of their IT needs. That still is s part of the plan–but has changed a little when we added the record shop and DJ school. DJ Ivan of the Pirate DJ’s is a part of the team as well as Jossette Thompson. They both help with the business management side of things and are essential team members of the company. DJ’s Mista B, Pone, and Hugo Gomez are part of our ‘Instructor’s Team’ and I’m hoping to get more DJ’s on board to teach their skills as DJ’s and business persons to the youth who are looking to learn a new skill. We have partnerships with DJ Henray Customs who customizes and repairs turntables, and our equipment partner, Guitar Center, provides us with our classroom equipment. We have a great balance of partners and the team is well rounded in all DJ scenes from the clubs, studios, and turntablists.
Inkfat: How did the concept for a record shop/computer repair/DJ School come about? And how long did it take to plan and launch?
DJ Cue: The concept really comes from me wanting to do more with my skill-set I’ve learned out in the world. I had my first shop at 20 years old and once you have your own business you treat everything as a business no matter where you go. After closing Cue’s Records, I went out into the regular job world and found it very difficult for me to get any job because people assume small business owners have no job skills. I had to start from scratch and I never really felt right working for others. Even though it has been 13 years since closing the other shop, there hasn’t been a year that has passed that I didn’t want another business regardless of what it was. This year I finally hit a peak point in my career to put what I’ve earned and learned into my own dream. I love music, I am a good tech, and I like doing things for the community. I know the record shop business, I know the tech support business, and I’ve always wanted a business that worked with the community. So all of the 3 things I wanted actually all relate now...so it was a perfect choice for me. This is just the first part of my plan.
Inkfat: Being an experienced business man, opening up your very own record shop in the past, would you consider this to be a continuation of that, with all its additional perks, or do you want it to be completely separate from what Cue’s Records was?
DJ Cue: I think there needs to be a balance this time around with this venture. This shop needs to address a new market of DJ’s and collectors. Reaching the tech market is our goal. The old school DJ’s are the collectors we want to sell vinyl to and help them grow tech-wise to stay relevant. We are basically a one-stop shop for the new era DJ.
Inkfat: What business choices do you regret making when you ran and managed Cue’s that you do not want to make with this one? How is this business/project different?
DJ Cue: My biggest regret was not taking time to live life. I worked every day and never went on vacation or spent time with loved ones. This time around I will make it a priority to keep a balance. All other mistakes were irrelevant because in business, you have to make mistakes to grow and build stronger. No business plan is mistake proof.
Inkfat: What are your long-term goals for the shop and what kind of impact do you hope to make on the community?
DJ Cue: There are a few goals we have that are short term, like building up the school to also provide IT and other music classes, creating a line of merchandise for our customers, and to provide more services to the community such as mobile DJ services. Long term, we would like to open more locations in different states or other countries.
Our community goals are very straight forward, “Be an asset to the community by providing a place for youth to find new skills and opportunity”. I think we can help a lot of kids out by just giving them something different. Anyone can watch a DJ and learn to mix, but when you are using good communication, technical, and creative thinking skills, they all help to set the standard to becoming a good DJ. It’s about Educating.
Inkfat: Are the classes free and do you provide membership fees?
DJ Cue: We don’t have any free classes, but we do offer discounts to the youth so they have no barrier to take a class. We have a pricing structure that is fair to all people involved such as the student, instructor, and people in general. We may consider a membership pricing structure during the summer for the youth. Kind of like a summer camp where you can learn to DJ and fix equipment as well.
Inkfat: What are your hours of operation?
DJ Cue: We’re open Monday through Saturday, 10am to 7pm, but we will also have after hour room rentals for the classroom. People have asked about using the place to record live mix shows and also have meetings.
Inkfat: Can you describe the different equipment you will be providing in your classes?
DJ Cue: In our classroom we are using; Technics 1200s and Native Instruments Z2 mixers. We will try and accommodate Serato users, but right now the cost to equip the classroom with Serato setups isn’t very realistic and we want to attract new DJ’s who will most likely be on a budget.
Inkfat: Besides records, what other merchandise do you sell at your shop?
DJ Cue: We sell clothing, bags, cables, and accessories such as DJ needles.
Inkfat: Will you be doing consignments?
DJ Cue: We will do consignment, but not for everyone who has a product. We don’t want to be a place that just accepts anything. We decided we wanted to make sure we sell quality products so we expect the people who want us to sell their products to make quality products. There’s a fine line in all of that, but I don’t want to have a whole section of low quality merchandise taking up space for some that was made with high expectations.
Inkfat: Do you hope to see all your past customers return once the shop open?
DJ Cue: Funny you ask. 80% of the people showing up are from the Cue’s Records customer base. I’m so blown away. We have some wall collages with pictures from the old shop and they all are so happy to see them. I have to keep a bit of the shop in all we do. The shop was a great place with great experiences and that has to be the way we build this new one.
Inkfat: Will your grand opening consist of special guest DJ’s, open turntables, live music?
DJ Cue: Our Grand Opening will be just a fun day for people old and new to see the new shop and classroom. The line of DJ’s for the day are DJs, Mind Motion, D Sharp, Mr. E, Goldenchyld, Vinroc, Joe Quixx and
host Fran Boogie. No open turntables. I find that having open turntables usually ends up with a lot of unwanted noise. We will have food, music, and giveaways for the people who show up. We’ll also show people the classroom and answer any questions people may have about taking classes.
Inkfat: Any last thoughts or words?
DJ Cue: Last words are to follow your passion and be realistic at the same time. You can’t have it all if all you do is dream and never wake up to live.
Interview by: Audrey “Inkfat” Esperanza
A newly minted contributor to the annals of URB Magazine. She is equal parts DJ, musician, and peach. She was last seen riding a unicorn escaping Cobra Island with a microfiche containing the location of a secret stash of unopened golden era 12 inches.