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John Tejada
by Andrew Duke

When California's John Tejada began sending out demos, it was the Essex based A13 imprint who first recognized his talent. And it was A13 who later released his debut album, "Pure Punk", from Tejada's Lucid Dream guise, in early 1997. Since his collaborations with Arian Leviste as Lis-10 in 1991, Tejada has built up an impressive discography on a number of labels, unleashed 8 recordings on his own Palette imprint, and recently unveiled a second full length on A13.

"I've been really into hip hop since the age of 10," Tejada says of his beginnings. This love of hip hop lead to his getting into sound design for sampling CDs right out of his teens, a dayjob he still holds. He's worked with renowned rap artist Divine Styler, produces regularly, and combined with Joe Babylon and Mannequin Lung's Allen Avanessian (a fellow Los Angeles resident) to record as Frankie Carbone. For the upcoming first volume of the "Voices In My Lunch Box" series on Avanessian's Plug Research label, Tejada had his mother, opera performer Carmen Tejada, provide the vocals on his contribution.

In addition to his numerous recordings of liquid house and techno, Tejada has proven himself adept at style juggling, which is just how he'd like it. "I try not to stick to categories so much. I like of lot of indie rock, and I've been listening to a lot of dark drum n bass lately; that's a new influence. There definitely is a sort of thing that maybe some people might not consider cool or whatever, but I figure the majority of people that buy some of my stuff probably listen to other forms of music too. Most of the people I know listen to many different musics," Tejada observes. "How can you not? I just want to have fun doing what I'm doing."

His April 1998 release on Palette, "Too Bad The Scene Is Dead", was an acute observation on Los Angeles. "The title actually came from a Sonic Youth song; the artwork is an homage to their 'Goo' cover. I feel music is very expressive, but when you lack vocals, you do lack a little bit of things you could express. A song title," Tejada says, "makes it that much more to me."

Tejada's "City Of Drumrolls, City Of Headaches" EP last year was another reference to homebase. "I was at this particularly bad event here with loads of the West Coast sound-breaks and trance. People love that stuff here. All night I kept hearing those songs with cheesy breakdowns and buildups-32 bars of drumrolls that keep getting louder. I was getting pissed off about it and I thought, 'I'm just going to call the new record that.'" The idea was solidified later that evening. "There was a live performer there," Tejada remembers, "who kept doing drumrolls on his Octapad every few measures. And, of course, all the people cheered and everybody was happy."

Though Tejada could continue trips to nearby San Francisco where quality electronic music is more appreciated, he hasn't given up on his city. He still makes select DJ and live appearances, such as an upcoming mid April event with Detroit's Anthony "Shake" Shakir and Divine Styler in downtown Los Angeles. Plus with his partner Lynn Hasty, he's continued his involvement with Public Space, host of the LA appearance of Substance, Vainqueur, and Pole last autumn and set to celebrate its fifth anniversary this May. "[Public Space] started off on an ambient vibe," Tejada explains, "but has evolved quite a bit. We're about live electronic performance and we're still doing them, even if it's two or three events a year." Tejada has certainly earned his kudos. "In LA, it's pretty discouraging for techno people. There's a few people, but the majority aren't into it. We literally get no feedback from where we are," Tejada says. "We don't mind, though, cos we like to do our own thing anyway."

John Tejada on…

…Arian Leviste
"He's been my music partner since back in '91. I met him in '91 and we've been close friends ever since. We try to work together as often as we can, but he's very busy with school and other things. It's a shame he doesn't have time to also do some music by himself. It would be great to have a record just from him on Palette. I'm sure that will happen someday."

…getting into electro and techno
"They had this great station out here [in California] called KDAY and once I found this station. They would play all the underground Brooklyn stuff, and early stuff like T La Rock, Ultramagnetic [MCs]; they also played a lot of electro. Saturday nights a DJ might do an electro mix and I started hearing a lot of that Kraftwerk stuff, they would even mix Model 500 in on that show out here and it was all part of the hip hop category, Soul Sonic Force, some of the Miami stuff too. I loved hip hop, but that sound to me was just so electronic and futuristic sounding... Once house and acid and stuff started happening, it didn't quite come together because it was still sort of separated to me, but as time went on, I just made a shift."

…Little Green Lights And Four Inch Faders song titles
"Chris [Massey of A13] ended up naming all the songs, but I did name the album. 'Pasadena Shuffle', for example, is something he came up with after we drove him out to Pasadena one day. It's not a title I would have used on my own. Usually I've been naming all the tracks on Palette so that they mean something to me. I kind of regret doing that [letting Massey name them], but it worked out OK."

related links:
Palette