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Interview: John Tejada

With the release of his sophomore full-length The Predicting Machine for legendary German label Kompakt last month, we caught up with eminent Austrian producer John Tejada to chat about his formative years, mysterious future collaborations and his brief foray into West Coast hip-hop…

You come from a pretty musical family – your father being a composer/conductor and your mother a soprano – has this inspired the way you look at music? Were they big influences on your musical development?

My parents got me started on piano at age 4. Having them both as musicians definitely must have had an influence, as both of them would practice regularly etc, which is something probably not that common in a normal household. I think I began to see music in a unique way quite early on.

What music that you were exposed to in your formative years has influenced you the most going forward?

Well, there was quite a lot of classical, of course. It wasn’t till about age 6 that I heard The Beatles, and till about 8 that I heard Led Zeppelin, and about 10 that i heard Run-DMC, Kraftwerk and early hip-hop/electro, which has all really shaped my musical tastes.

You had a brief foray into hip-hop early on in your career. What motivated your move away from this style?

The people I was working with at the time were just too crazy. All that West Coast hip-hop talk is quite real and it wasn’t a situation I wanted to be in. It was interesting, however, at a young age to go work at these big studios, many of which don’t exist anymore.

Tell us a little bit about The Predicting Machine. How does it feel to you in comparison to your previous full-lengths?

It feels to me like a logical progression. I wanted to expand on some of the ideas on Parabolas, but in general I just wanted to make a record that felt right to me. I really enjoy the full-length medium.

I remember reading that you felt it was written with Kompakt in mind. How did this affect the outcome of the album?

This was mentioned in the press for the album, but I feel it’s been misunderstood. All that it meant was that I knew where the album was going and that freed me up not to worry about the business side of things, which usually comes after the album is completed. It was nice to only focus on the creative side. The record was not shaped sound wise for Kompakt or anything like that.

How do you feel it’s been received so far since its release?

I’ve been asked that a lot and I’m honestly not sure what it means. I haven’t paid much attention, but I’m hoping its been received in a positive way. But, of course, I will now add the obligatory artist statement of “I don’t really care, I’m just making my music for my own personal reasons.”

It feels like one of your most varied sets of songs to date. Is this something that was intentional? Was a sense of eclecticism important?

I find that as I progress more and more as an artist, I feel more comfortable showing all sides to my music on one album, rather than on different projects. I’m able to give a larger clearer picture of what I’m about creatively.

Would you say your influences were more diverse than usual while working on this particular record?

I feel I generally have a pretty large group of influences. I’ve heard certain songs compared to specific works, but some of those I’ve actually never heard. Then, there is one influence which is quite obvious on one song which no one has cited. So, everyone seems to hear different things on the album which is great.

What have you got planned for the rest of the year and on into 2013? 

There will be a new Palette single by John Tejada & Josh Humphrey titled ‘Pulse Locker’ that will be out December 3.

Finally, if you could collaborate with any other producer/vocalist/musician etc, who would it be and why?

I just spoke with a close friend of mine who is part of one of my favorite groups and we’ve been talking about starting a project for a while now. We will give it another shot soon. I’m excited about this, but I can’t mention who it is yet.

You can pick up John Tejada’s new album The Predicting Machine via Kompakt, here.

- Alex Cull


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