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John Tejada: ‘The unexpected happy accidents are a major factor in creating music’

Los Angeles-based John Tejada is a recording artist for Kompakt, as well as his own Palette Recordings. Since 1994, Tejada has released a steady catalog of quality electronic music on some of the world’s most respected labels and has toured the world many times over with his DJ sets and live hardware sets.

We caught up with John Tejada to talk about his latest musical projects.

EG: Hi John, it is an honor that you have granted us this interview on the occasion of your next ‘Silversonic’ record release, an eclectic collaboration with the composer and saxophonist Ulrich Krieger, in addition to the interpretations by Josh Wink. It seems to us a great leap that highlights the need to deepen and explore new sound territories. How did this project come about?

John Tejada: Thanks for the invite. Ulrich and I discovered our mutual love for techno during a student review at CalArts. A student’s work reminded him of his early days in Berlin when the world-renown club Tresor was opening for the first time and bringing Detroit talent over to play and also releasing some of their earliest works like X-101. I didn’t know this side of Krieger and showed him my remix for Tresor, and mentioned I’d played 2 locations of the club before. Ulrich said, “well we should do something!”. Krieger would take one of my existing works, play some baritone sax, and sent me the stems.  After a little play with the parts, I began writing an original piece to what he had delivered. Since both were using Logic Pro, it was easy to exchange the session and after passing it back and forth a few times the piece was completed. For the remixes, I had swapped remix jobs with Josh Wink as I recently remixed his new single for Bedrock.

EG: The different versions of ‘Silversonic’, the four versions seem tremendous to us, absolutely all-star for their color, their instrumental nature, and their clubbing spirit! We would like to ask you about this eclectic collaboration; Tejada-Krieger-Wink?

John Tejada: It was all a very organic process. Ulrich and I just thought it would be fun to collaborate and the process was really fun and easy. The track originally was going to appear on my spring class compilation that I do every year for Touched called ‘Future Stars’. However, once the track was done I felt we needed to feature it on its own. Getting Josh involved was also very easy. We had swapped remixes and I felt this was perfect to get him on.

EG: And as for your creative process…Could you share more about it with us? Currently, if you had to choose your favorite machines in your studio, which ones would they be?

John Tejada: At the moment a large chunk of what I do is in the box, but hardware-wise I am really enjoying my Prophet 5 and Cwejman S1. Those are my favorite poly and mono options for analog. Other than that, the computer is key.

EG: As far as we have been able to track you, we know that you have a long history of successes and that you have performed in the most cutting-edge festivals, such as Mutek, Sònar, Dekmantel among others. What would be the festival in which you would like to perform soon?

John Tejada: Mutek and Movement are always a lot of fun and quite different and unique in their own ways.

“Ulrich and I just thought it would be fun to collaborate and the process was really fun and easy”

EG: When looking for inspiration, who would be your muse? What other artists do you currently admire? and with whom would you like to collaborate?

John Tejada: I tend to always look back to the early misuse of music technology. For instance, Marley Marl sampling drum hits for the first time. A process no one even thinks is at all revolutionary today but at the time it totally was. Or stories of producers inventing ways to keep machines in time and dealing with major limitations to create great works in those early days. These are the music makers that inspire me day-to-day.

Collaboration wise I tend to just enjoy working with people I know quite well. I don’t really tend to want to work with someone I admire but don’t know. I would rather just enjoy their work and be inspired by it.

EG: We recently attended an interesting conference organized by Sònar in which some artists are working on the possibilities of creating music from algorithms. What do you think?

John Tejada: Ai is interesting in music and many of my colleagues at CalArts are working in this field. However, I find the unexpected happy accidents are a major factor in creating music and I’m not sure Ai is taking that so much into consideration. Apart from that, whenever I use some type of random in my music, it doesn’t feel as satisfying as having done it myself. For me, that’s kind of the point of working on music. I suppose at some point if I’m only writing the rules for what’s to be created that is another interesting way of writing, but I find generative music to get boring pretty quickly. It is however important for the development of new and exciting music tech to come.

EG: And now, to finish, we would like to ask you about your next projects for the year 2022?

John Tejada: I’ll be focusing on Palette more than usual again. The label will be 25 years this fall! There’s new work with Wajatta coming and some remixes for the Kompakt album at end of summer.

EG: Thank you very much, John, It has been a pleasure to do this interview and that you have shared with us more details about your next Silversonic launch, we wish you success! And many thanks to Palette Recordings and the Silent-Shout team for making this happen.

John Tejada: Thanks so much for having me!

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