Meet DJ Kue: the HipTronik DJ bridging the gap between mainstream and HipTronik. The Bay area DJ has the blogosphere buzzing with his stream of Top 40 remixes circulating the web, so we were excited to have the opportunity to ask him about his remixing, music influences and love for house music.
Please introduce yourself to HipTronik.
Hi everyone! My name is DJ Kue — Mike Morales is my real name — and I love house music and squirrels!
When did you realize that you wanted to pursue a career in music?
I’ve always been into music from a young age. I tried playing an instrument when I was younger, but couldn’t really grasp it. I fell into DJing through school dances when I was in the fifth grade. I saw my first mobile DJ and really loved the idea of playing music for a group of people. My parents got me DJ gear and, eventually, I bought turntables when I was a freshman in high school.
I guess production fell into place after DJing. I still wanted to create my own stuff to play for others. A buddy of mine, Melee Beats, helped push me into learning FL Studio and I took that knowledge and got hooked. I wanted to learn as much as I could while trying to produce tracks along the way.
You’ve been in the industry for 16 years, and have gone from performing at local clubs, to getting international radio play on BBC’s Radio 1, to hosting a radio show yourself. How did you get your start as a DJ?
It wasn’t until college that I really wanted to start getting gigs. I eventually got one locally at this sushi spot called Blowfish and have been there since. More local gigs increased when other DJs/promoters started hearing my tracks playing in clubs and eventually found me through the web.
How would you describe your sound?
I’m not too sure. I really try to avoid narrowing my sound to something specific. I guess I just produce what I love. I don’t try and stick with a formula when I remix. It gives me the freedom to avoid being categorized in a box and to focus more on producing whatever I’m feeling at the moment.
What are you listening to or loving right now?
I’ve been listening to a bunch of classic rock lately, throwing in my old Pink Floyd CDs in my car. Haha! I listen to everything though!
When remixing, I try to give something identifiable to the club audience while keeping it fresh. There’s really no set workflow when I approach a remix. I guess the one thing that is pretty consistent is that it has to be a track I love.
One thing that I will say is that I don’t try and go left field when remixing tracks. Recently, I’ve been hearing a bunch of remixes that have great production but where the vocal is definitely not in key with the production. It just sounds off. This is especially noticeable with Dutch house remixes. I know the average club goer isn’t really going to care in a club, but I strongly believe that nailing everything right off the bat will have a huge impact!
Who are the artists you look up to? How has their music influenced yours?
I have huge respect for Wolfgang Gartner. The fact that he was brave enough to step outside of the box and craft something new is awesome! He produced deep/jacking house as Joey Youngman for so long. It says a lot about his production level when he can switch and dominate another genre.
What sets you apart from other DJs and producers in the industry?
I have no idea. Haha. I guess that I can DJ and produce? I’ve been told that it’s common that most producers can’t DJ, haha.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced working your way through a cutthroat industry?
Just trying to land official remix work and getting club gigs. It really is all about who you know, and I’m not great at marketing myself. Giving stuff for free has been the biggest benefit to building up my brand.
On your Twitter you mention that you host Club 94.9 After The Club on Wild 94.9 FM. How does your radio work influence your music and live mixing?
It’s been a great opportunity to expose dance music to a huge audience. We have to hit some Top 40 remixes on a playlist but, for the most part, we play a bunch of tracks that people aren’t too familiar with but they can get down to. It’s been a blast!
You have your own blog which you used to release almost all of your non-label remixes and covers. What do you enjoy most about blogging? What are some of your favorite blogs?
It’s been a great platform to send out my tracks. That’s really my main focus. It’s great getting feedback from people. Even a simple, “Thanks for the track!” is awesome and let’s me know that people appreciate my work.
So we’ve noticed that there are tons of remixes floating around, but not a lot of information about you personally. Is there a reason for the mystery?
Not really. I guess I’ve never been asked. The best way I can describe myself is a nerd who loves to DJ and make music. Haha.
You’ve established yourself as a serious DJ with a long-standing career, so what do you hope to accomplish with your future endeavors?
I really hope to start playing out more. I’ve had more gigs trickle in and there really is no greater feeling that playing your own tracks out and seeing crowd reactions firsthand.
Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to tell us about?
I’m wrapping remixes for a couple of labels and also have some remixes coming out soon. Check out my SoundCloud where I’ll be posting snippets as soon as they’re completed. I’ve slowed down on the bootleg front with the remix work I’ve been receiving but expect a bootleg here and there!
Do you have anything you’d like to say to your fans?
Thanks for the support! It really means a lot to me. That is my biggest driving force to keep producing and giving out my stuff for free.