John Tejada

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is John Tejada and I'm an electronic composer releasing my productions since 1994 on various labels including Playhouse, 7th City, Poker Flat, Kompakt, and my own label Palette Recordings. I began studying music at a young age. Both parents were classical musicians. My mother an opera singer and father a conductor. We were living in Vienna Austria till I was 8 years old, after which I moved with my mother to Los Angeles which is where I still live today. At about the age of 4 my father began training me on the piano, but that focus changed to drums once I moved to LA, with DJing becoming my main interest soon after. I first began working on electronic music with Arian Leviste in the summer of 1991. A year after graduating high school around 1993, I was accepted to CalArts, however I chose not to attend in order to start my music career. I was involved with various sound design and post production music projects and after a few years I managed to reach my goal of only working on my own compositions as my main focus.

What hardware are you using?

At the moment in my studio there is: Studio Electronics CODE 4 polysynth which I feel is the ultimate polysynth for me; Cwejman S1 semi modular synth which, apart from being an amazing analog synth, interfaces with other modular gear so well and is equipped with great MIDI to CV; Eurorack modular synth made up of various modules which are great since replacing just one module makes everything brand new again; Elektron Monomachine, Octatrack, and Machinedrum which are all fun and very unique and especially useful for taking out on the road; Rozzbox One polysynth which has the most character I've ever had in a polysynth; Minimoog Voyager, classic Roland stuff most modified (808 909 303 606 101), Dave Smith Poly Evolver which I like because of the wavetables, and lastly, a Nord Modular G2. Sequencers are the Doepfer Maq 16/3, Frostwave Fat Controller and a Latronic Notron. Hardware processors include SSL Bus Compressor, SPL MixDream summing amp and Eventide Eclipse. For my sound I find the analog summing and Bus Compressor really help me get a nice mix. Monitor wise I use the Dynaudio Air 15s.

What software are you using?

I'm using Logic Pro mostly and Ableton Live time to time. Ableton is great for collaborating and makes it easy to have all the hardware running with 2 people working at the same time without having to stop things constantly. However when it comes to my compositional side I really like arranging in Logic. I'm still learning cool things all the time about the transform editor as well as some environment objects. I've been using it so many years that it just feels really comfortable. Plug-in wise I really like the ones from Universal Audio, FabFilter, and SoundToys for mixing; and Madrona Labs Aalto and DrumSpillage for sound synthesis.

What would be your dream setup?

There are a few synths I would love to try as well as larger format modular stuff. There are some classics I've never owned like a Prophet 5 or Oberheim Xpander which I've always been curious about. However, I'm really happy with the set up I have at the moment. I try to keep things simple and organized. I don't have all my gear set up all the time. I change stuff out over time to liven things up. As far as the dream set up goes, I hope for much more processing power computer wise. I also wish some of the smaller high end mixers being released these days like the SSL would also include a bit of EQ. There is so much to wish for software wise, especially true hardware sound quality which is always getting closer. I really tend to go for the simpler concepts. Just simple powerful tools is what I'm always after.

Any production tips & tricks you'd like to share?

For myself it has been a 20 year process of learning along the way. I'm still looking to improve on everything. It's a constant learning experience which keeps things interesting for me. I like to keep my production techniques simple as possible. There are so many "paint by numbers" possibilities out there and you can hear it more than ever these days in music trends. When I'm really accomplishing the sound I want it's usually playing everything by hand, creating all the sound design from scratch and creating rhythms by hand as well. It just ends up with a better feeling for me rather than running into random nice accidents using the analog sequencer or something like that. Although once in a while that can really make a tune as well. But this is also coming from dialing in parameters from nothing. Not opening plug-ins and changing a note on some sequencer preset. I've learned a lot from Justin Maxwell and Josh Humphrey, 2 of my collaborators. Learning how to get exactly what I want out of the modular which in turn made pre-patched synth modules much easier to understand as well. I've read a few books out there. Bob Katz' mastering book (Mastering Audio: The Art and the Science) and similar publications are fun to read through. It's an endless learning process that keeps things interesting for me. Everyone has their own take on things, but mostly I learn from close friends that are professionals in the business. This covers all areas including contracts and bookings as well as the technical side.

Where can we find you on the web?

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