On The Record: DJ Kuya
BY KALANI WILHELM / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Nightlife regulars may have never heard of DJ Kuya — and he’s totally fine with it.
Sometimes, all a person needs in life is a chance. Anthony Francisco created his own luck in May when he entered Hula’s Bar and Lei Stand’s “Mix Factor” DJ contest on a whim.
Not only did his 20-minute entry beat out 31 other contestants (which literally means his mix was better than some 620 minutes of other DJs’ music), the virtual unknown scored his first DJ gig ever: a part-time residency at Hula’s.
It’s the ideal platform for this newcomer to showcase his house, electro and tribal grooves. Along with the newfound limelight, the former Seattle resident has learned to embrace the on-the-job crash course he found himself taking part in.
So far, his well-manicured sound has been well received by the Waikiki beach bar’s regular customers.
“I want to rock crowds,” he said. “The music I play is not always mainstream. It’s really important for them to be open minded; I like to take them on a journey.”
Francisco essentially had to learn the life of a DJ on the fly. Important aspects of a working club DJ’s job, such as feeling out and controlling a crowd and diversifying his song selections, are all new to him.
“I’ve learned it’s not all about me and my transitions, it’s about me and the crowd,” he said.
Francisco said he’s improved while staying true to himself and trusting his instincts — two guidelines in life he has always tried to follow.
“Being part of the gay community, I like to show that we are more than just glitter and disco balls,” he said. “That’s where I come in, I bring in something different. I play something they would play at a straight club and … get great responses.
“(Gay people) party the same way as everyone else. We get ‘turned up’ too. (It’s) funny when I see a straight DJ playing at a gay club … playing really gay music. (I’m) like, ‘Dude, just because we gay doesn’t mean I like to dance to this!’”
Francisco, who relocated to Oahu with his partner in 2008, started off as your average bedroom DJ while in high school before putting his hobby to rest. Dishing out $5 to $10 for a vinyl (single) was just too expensive, he said. His love for mixing returned four years ago, thanks to the increasing affordability of music and equipment.
Fast forward to the present, and Francisco resembles a much more polished performer behind the decks, with the pizazz to match. He said he hopes all the exposure he’s received will continue to serve as a catalyst for more opportunities. Excelling and improving his DJ abilities will continue to be his primary focus, he said.
“I’m content with the amount of gigs I’m getting; it’s more than I ever thought,” he said. “I still have a long way to go towards my goal. I still have lots to learn. Hopefully I get to play along with other great DJs out there.
“I’ve always had this attitude of love it or hate it, this is me. Love it or hate it. Someone will like it.”
Score one for the underdog DJ.
Hula’s is currently accepting 20-minute mixes as entries for its third “Mix Factor” contest, which will begin Sept. 18 and continue on Oct. 2 and Oct. 9 with the final round on Oct. 16. Visit the Hula’s website for more details.
Kalani Wilhelm covers nightlife and music for the Pulse. Contact him via email or follow him on Twitter.