John Tejada

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A classically trained techno changeling, John Tejada is a highly regarded and prolific electronic producer and DJ, working in styles ranging from IDM and tech-house to downtempo and hip-hop. Since debuting in the mid-’90s, he’s racked up an impressive, acclaimed catalog of albums, singles, and DJ mixes, including collaborations with legendary MC Divine Styler. In addition, he’s released several albums of downtempo post-rock as one-half of the duo I'm Not a Gun, and collaborated with comedian/beatboxer Reggie Watts as the improvisational house duo Wajatta. Tejada is also highly prolific as a remixer, with clients including the Postal Service (“Such Great Heights”), Télépopmusik, Kevin Saunderson, and many others. His early solo albums included the Detroit techno-esque Little Green Lights and Four Inch Faders (1998) and the laid-back instrumental hip-hop of The Matrix of Us (2000). Numerous mixes and collaborations with Arian Leviste appeared throughout the remainder of the decade, as well as tech-house full-lengths on Plug Research and Tejada’s own Palette Recordings. Much of his work since the early 2010s has appeared on German techno institution Kompakt, from the melodic electro-techno of 2011′s Parabolas to the dubby minimal techno of 2021′s Year of the Living Dead. Optometry, his collaboration with singer/songwriter March Adstrum, debuted in 2023 with the full-length After-Image and the EP In-Visible-Distance.
Born in 1974 in Vienna, Austria, Tejada grew up in Los Angeles the son of a composer/conservatory teacher father and an opera singer mother. As a child, he played piano and drums. By his teens, he was listening to hip-hop and electro and eventually launched his DJ career by playing out in those styles. After hearing the Detroit techno blueprints courtesy of recordings by Juan Atkins and Derrick May, Tejada began producing. During 1996 alone, he recorded two singles for A13 Records (as Lucid Dream) and an EP for Electric Ladyland (as Autodidact). Early the following year, his debut Lucid Dream album, Pure Punk, appeared, followed by a single for Plug Research as Mr. Hazeltine. After the 1997 Plug Research & Development compilation earned kudos around the home-listening techno community, Tejada formed his own label, Palette Records; collaborated with Joe Babylon of Plug Research and Allen Avanessian as Frankie Carbone; and recorded on his own for Organised Noise, Ferox, and 7th City.
Tejada’s first album, Little Green Lights and Four Inch Faders, appeared in 1998 on A13 Records. The downtempo record The Matrix of Us followed on deFocus in 2000. Backstock, a continuously mixed wrap-up of his Palette label recordings, was released in 2001, and his third full production LP — Daydreams in Cold Weather — followed one year later on Plug Research. From that point, Tejada kicked his release schedule into an even higher gear, especially when it came to full-length projects. He collaborated on a series of albums with Arian Leviste: Fairfax Sake (Playhouse, 2003), The Dot and the Line (Moods & Grooves, 2004), and Back for Basics (Palette, 2005). There were the solo discs The Toiling of Idle Hands (Immigrant, 2003), Logic Memory Center (Plug Research, 2004), Cleaning Sounds Is a Filthy Business (Palette, 2006), and Where (Palette, 2008). As part of I'm Not a Gun, an instrumental rock duo in collaboration with Takeshi Nishimoto, Tejada produced four albums for City Centre Offices and one for Palette. In 2008, he mixed the 44th volume of the Fabric series and released Where on Palette. He also issued two volumes of Recovered Data (a series of early material) under his own name, as well as Recovered Data '95 as Lucid Dream.
In 2011, Tejada signed to the legendary German techno label Kompakt, a natural home for his brand of tuneful, intricate techno. Following the Unstable Condition EP, the full-length Parabolas arrived in June. The Predicting Machine followed in 2012, with several non-album singles appearing afterwards. Signs Under Test, Tejada’s third album for Kompakt, was released in 2015. Several more singles for Kompakt, Palette, and Residual Recordings followed, and in 2016 Tejada began collaborating with Tin Man for a series of acid techno EPs on Acid Test. Tejada’s fourth Kompakt full-length, Dead Start Program, featuring cover artwork by Silent Servant, was released in 2018.
Tejada formed the duo Wajatta with Reggie Watts, and their debut album, Casual High Technology, was released by Comedy Dynamics in 2018. The duo toured throughout 2019, and Brainfeeder issued their second full-length, Don't Let Get You Down, in 2020. Tejada also released a collaboration with Dntel titled In Media Res. He returned to Kompakt with the solo album Year of the Living Dead, a reflection on life during a global pandemic, in 2021. The stripped-down full-length Sleepwalker appeared on Palette in 2022. Tejada then mixed a volume of Kompakt’s retrospective series, Connecting the Dots. Solo EP Wild Ride was issued in 2023. Tejada also launched Optometry, his duo with March Adstrum. The two released the full-length After-Image, followed by the EP In-Visible-Distance, with remixes by Plaid, Dntel, and Silent Servant. ~ John Bush & Paul Simpson