John Tejada Looks Back on 25 Years of Palette Recordings

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Jun 15, 2022
Cameron Holbrook, John Tejada
Los Angeles-based electronic music hero John Tejada takes us through 10 essential Palette Recordings tracks for the label’s 25th anniversary.
A revered figurehead of the Los Angeles electronic music scene, John Tejada has been churning out vanguard dance floor cutters since 1994. Between astonishing his fans with his mind-bending DJ and live hardware sets or driving the groove alongside vocal compatriot Reggie Watts as Wajatta — who coincidentally just dropped their new Do You Even Care Anymore? EP — there is no denying the immense vibe that Tejada brings dance floors worldwide. In addition to releases on labels like Kompakt, Anjunadeep, Poker Flat, Acid Test, and countless others, John Tejada’s imprint Palette Recordings has always been the primary vehicle for this production virtuoso’s prolific musical output. 25 years after he first founded the imprint and with hundreds upon hundreds of tracks under his belt, John Tejada has tapped German star Robag Wruhme to remix his classic 2004 single “Mono On Mono” to celebrate this milestone. Listen to the track below.

“I started palette Recordings in the fall of 1996,” says Tejada. “What started as an outlet to release some of my own works along with long-time collaborator Arian Leviste, turned into an unexpected journey resulting in new friendships and fun collaborations.”

Now, John Tejada takes the time to revisit his label’s tremendous back catalogue and look back on 25 years of electronic excellence. Check out the list below.

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John Tejada – The End Of It All
This song came out of one of the many patterns I was writing for new live shows with Justin Maxwell. We each had a couple of hardware boxes and the idea was to create lots of scratch content we could improvise with. Some of the patterns had something special to them. This was one I further developed into a full song and when Arian Leviste heard it right after I finished it, he said to me “That sounds like the end of it all.”
John Tejada – Timebomb (VIP Mix)
This was originally released on Daniel Bell’s Seventh City imprint where I got to release 5 EPs. Dan was kind enough to return the masters to me and I was able to re-issue them. This was a special remix I had made of the original and it’s one of the tracks I still play very often in my sets. It’s one of my proudest works.
John Tejada – Mono On Mono
This was made with a new hardware setup I was developing. I was really excited at the time to have a fresh way of working and this is one of my favorite pieces that came out of that.
Justin Maxwell – The Windey Man
At times I feel this is my favorite track I’ve released on the label. It’s such an experience and so unique and original. One of my favorite pieces of electronic music.
John Tejada – Dramamine
I really enjoy working with tracker software as I feel it guides me to try things I ordinarily wouldn’t try with other software. I feel this is a great example of that. “Dramamine” is one of my favorite tracks I have ever made.
Arian Leviste – Senioritis
I’ve been working with Arian for 30 years now and he rarely and reluctantly wants to put his solo music into the world, but I’m very happy when he does. Love playing this out.
John Tejada & Justin Maxwell – Mind Bend (feat. Daniel Bell)
I’ve learned so much about synthesis from Justin and it’s always a blast working with him. This is a great wavetable riff he came up with. It’s sort of a moment we’re always trying to re-capture, but we can’t quite get there. The special extra touch was getting Dan’s permission to use some vocals I’ve had from a session we were working on but never released. Oh yes, there is an original Tejada/Bell “Mind Bend” in the vaults.
John Tejada & Josh Humphrey – Marooned
“Marooned” was our first collaboration together and it felt like a perfect match. I also learned tons from Josh about synthesis. He was working at a local synth shop and would bring new gear over for us to try. Most of the synth work on our productions was his. He has a great groove and ear for sound design.
John Tejada – Sucre (feat. Qzen)
Following up “Sweat” and “Paranoia” we created this track while eating a box of Porto’s baked goods. The song is very much about eating a lot of sugar. It didn’t occur to us some would see it as a reference about something else, but hey, anything can be interpreted in different ways, but it was the two of us housing a box of treats till we felt ill.
John Tejada & Ulrich Krieger – Silversonic
My newest collaborator Ulrich and I are both faculty at CalArts. This is how we met and slowly discovered our mutual musical interests. Ulrich is an incredibly accomplished player who can pretty much do anything. It’s amazing to have these kinds of sonics to work with. There’s a real visceral power to the way he plays his instruments.

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