John Tejada speaks on musicality, career longevity, and more ahead of Brooklyn Festival
John Tejada’s talent is as vast as his far-reaching career. The Austrian legend quite literally has music in his blood — his parents were both classically-training musicians, and naturally got him started at the ripe age of four years old. Like with his parents, music soon became an essential part of Tejada’s being. He mastered classical piano with ease before moving onto drums, becoming enamored with rock music before discovering through hip-hop that he was meant to mix and produce records. Fast-forward to modern times, and the maestro has since become somewhat of a legend on the underground circuit while championing his successful label, Palette Recordings.
Genre boundaries mean very little, if anything at all, to Tejada. A true musician at heart, he allows his creativity to expand beyond the confines of just house and techno, delving into more experimental sounds and rhythms on top of his usual club fare. Whether making eclectic electronica with bass, ambient, or club-ready cuts, one thing is for certain: Tejada is a master at his craft. His brevity in experimentation and his passion for the scene have carried him through a near three-decade career, and he’s showing no sign of slowing up his momentum.
Ahead of his upcoming performance at Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival, Dancing Astronaut had the chance to have a short discussion with him about his musicality, what inspires him, and of course, the festival itself.
Do you feel your classical training has helped bolster your music skills? Has it also influenced the way you arrange music?
Yes absolutely. It taught me how to play an instrument and theory. I’ve found over the years that hardware step sequencers etc, as fun as they are actually slow me down and ruin my focus. I’m thankful to be able to have something in my head and to be physically able to get that idea down by playing. Arrangement wise I’m not so sure as this is all more repetitive, but perhaps there’s a small influence there.
What do you think it is about rhythmic music that draws people into it so intently? It’s as if it’s a bug that strikes a certain population, and based off your experience in drumming classically and through use of percussive patterns in your music, you seem like a great authority on this topic!
Well there’s all the usual answers of our heart beat, and tribal rhythms, etc etc. Every physical activity we do has a rhythm. For this type of music the fundamental is the rhythm. So this is what draws people towards it and to move. My training earlier in life was piano based. I found drums once I moved over to the states and switched from my piano lessons to wanting to do nothing but play rock drums. The drums were the only instrument I kept at to this day. Like piano it also helps me get rhythm ideas down by hand which is helpful.
In addition, house & techno have remained some of the most steadfast during their existence with a high following in the underground. Would you agree that it’s the genres’ grooving, simplistic nature that makes it so timeless?
It does seem like the simpler it is the more timeless it becomes. It seems overly complex productions are easier to pinpoint in time. Also the styles seem to come full circle. As the style gets explored to it’s most complex it tends to come back to it’s fundamental. So yes, I would say the groove at it’s core, less the overproduced sounds are what gives it a timeless sound.
After being around the scene for so long, how do you continually find new inspiration?
It comes and goes, but that’s what’s great about this evolution of the styles I mentioned. Just when you think you’ve explored all you can, things strip away and there is all of a sudden so much to explore that feels new by going back and almost starting again. Sometimes I just need a long break to shed all those layers and see it all again with fresh eyes and ears and then it’s all day 1 exciting again.
Furthermore, what steps have you taken to ensure continual success for yourself and your label over the years? Would you agree that music and sheer passion often speak for themselves?
I don’t believe there’s any way to ensure success. All I can do is stay inspired and do the best work I feel I can do and hope it resonates.
Let’s talk about your upcoming gig at the Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival – what excites you most about playing this festival?
Just the name is exciting to me. A fun lineup. It’s always fun when I’m playing at something I would attend anyway.
What New York festivals have you played before (if you have played a New York festival), and which have been your favorite? How does the New York crowd compare to other crowds around the world?
I’m not sure I’ve played a festival in NYC before. New York has probably my favorite music history and I feel that legacy lives on, so it’s always very special to perform in New York where most of the records that make me do what I do came from.
Finally, your favorite question: what does the rest of the year and 2018 look like for John Tejada?
Lots of music and new projects are coming. I wish I could speak about it now, but soon enough!