Filed under: Interview
John Tejada, originally from Vienna now residing in LA, is arguably one of the most skilled and popular DJ/Producers in the in the US techno scene. Tejada moulds his blend of simple jazzy samples with the distinct Detroit synthesizer noise to make his own individual sound that has lead to collaborations with artists from Detroit to Europe. As well as running his own label, Palette, Tejada also produces tracks for TV and movies as well as remixing, his popularity now stretching beyond the US and into Europe and Japan.
In co-operation with local promoters ArcTokyo, John Tejada recently visited Japan for national tour, including his storming DJ sets in Osaka and Nagoya, as well as an impressive live set in Kyoto. Taking this opportunity, Soundgraphics interviewed John unveiling the secrets behind the glorious career he’s had so far.
Interview by H.Nakamura (HigherFrequency)
HigherFrequency (HRFQ) : I think it’s been a year since you came to Japan last time for Plus Tokyo. How do you feel now?
John : Great, I am looking forward to coming back to Japan.
HRFQ : What is your general impression of the Japanese techno scene?
John : My first impression of it was great. I have not gotten to see too much yet though. But I always hear great things about it there.
HRFQ : Do you have any Japanese DJs you’re influenced by?
John : I have not gotten to watch many Japanese DJs, especially living here in LA. I was however a fan of Ken Ishii’s early work.
HRFQ : I think you’ve collaborated with Arian Leviste for more than 10 years. What is the secret behind such a long-term collaboration? Do you have any specific role between you and him?
John : Yes, almost 13 years now. our collaboration just works really well. It’s so easy to work together. When we work together we pretty much just take turns at the controls till the song is done.
HRFQ : Can you tell us a bit about your label Palette? What kind of strategy and concept do you put behind this label?
John : Well, Palette has been around for 7 and 1/2 years. In May we will have 30 released singles and 2 CDs so far. I am happy it has lasted so long and is constantly becoming a better situation. There really was no strategy to it in the beginning, just to release my own music, which is still the main goal. But now since things are going well for the label, I think the new strategy is to keep most of our releases on palette and not do much music for other labels anymore.
HRFQ : Are there any forthcoming releases from Palette or other labels you want to mention?
John : The next release on palette is a collaboration with me and Justin Maxwell. I’m very excited about this new collaboration. He will also have his debut EP in May on Palette 31. Before that in early May will be a new 3 tracker by Arian and myself titled “Psycho Happiness”. Also I have just finished my new album for Plug Research titled “Logic Memory Center”. This will be released by September.
HRFQ : It’s well known your parents are classical musicians, your mother is a soprano and your father is a classical conductor. Do you think your current production on the Techno platform is influenced by classical sounds?
John : I guess I will always have that influence lurking somewhere in my head. But I think lately it is less and less of an orchestral sound. But in the end it’s all just sounds anyway.
HRFQ : In a couple of previous interviews, you mentioned that the techno explosion had never really happened in your home country. Do you see any reasons why Techno sounds doesn’t really fit the American market?
John : I don’t really know. Everyone seems to have an answer for this except me. It just isn’t big. I don’t know why. But it has been really nice to go places where it actually is a known type of music.
HRFQ : Have you found any differences between the European Techno scene and the scene in Asian countries?
John : I guess I haven’t been to Asia enough to really answer this question. But both continents seem to really embrace the sound.
HRFQ : I think you just released your original album Toiling Of Idle Hands through Immigrant in UK. Can you tell us the concept of that album?
John : I can’t remember anymore to be honest. haha. It was a very long delayed project, delayed by more than 2 years. Our most recent album was the Playhouse album titled “fairfax Sake” but due to delays the Immigrant one and Moods and Grooves was released after. I don’t plan for this to happen again. I can tell you however that my new Plug Research album will have some nice surprises on it and a very developed sound.
HRFQ : When you compile MIX CD like Plus compilation you did last year, how do you usually come up with the tracklisting?
John : I just check my record box and compile a wish list of tracks I would like to be on the mix. I think we got all but one for the mix so it worked out well
HRFQ : There’re a lot of discussion going on regarding new technology, and you’re from the country where I-tunes and napstar originated. Do you think people will buy 7-8 minute techno sounds via stores like I-tune?
John : Yeah sure, especially with all this digital DJ stuff going on. I think. It’s kind of cool and this way people can buy tracks without them selling out at shops and labels can still get paid if it’s done right.
HRFQ : It seems you’re quite knowledgeable about new studio technology like plug-in technology. I found your demo on the Native Instruments site. Are you giving any advice to those companies for their product development?
John : I’m only on one beta team. So I do this just a little. I have some friends that develop software so I talk sometimes, but I don’t get too involved.
HRFQ : Some people now say we must revaluate the outboard stuff, but what is your view on this? Do you finish your products just in your PC or do you use some outboard stuff?
John : I use Mac’s to do my music. All these discussions just come down to peoples preference of how they like to work. People argue about this kind of stuff all the time. Everything can use improvement. I’m happy with my set up. It’s almost 100% computer these days.
HRFQ : Are there any good plug ins you can recommend?
John : At the moment I am a big fan of the Arturia minimoog V, and the ReFX Vanguard Synth. Also the Linplug RMIV sampler and new Albino 2.
HRFQ : I think there’re many Japanese creators who would like to send you demos for your evaluation or possible release from Palette. Do you always listen to the demos from unsigned artists?
John : Yes, I always listen. It’s hard with Palette because we reserve the releases for our little Palette crew of artists so I always warn people that we don’t plan on signing new artists, but then I always want to hear if there are some new amazing artists out there, so I love to listen.
HRFQ : Can you tell us how they can contact you?
End of the interview
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