JOHN TEJADA with KENNY GLASGOW, PAUL E LOPES, TIM PATRICK and PATRICK PARADES at the Mockingbird (580 King West), Saturday (February 1). $15 advance, $20 at the door. Rating: NNNNN
Techno, downtempo and drum 'n' bass may be miles apart and rarely cross paths, but to L.A.-based DJ and producer John Tejada the differences amount to little more than an adjustment in tempo.
"It's really just a difference in BPMs," the soft-spoken Tejada explains from L.A. "I'm sure that will freak out a lot of dance music fans, but if you play techno and drum 'n' bass for your grandmother she won't be able to tell the difference, because they're basically working from the same ideas."
Tejada is a skilled producer of quirky melodic techno and house and an expert arranger of mellow home-listening electronica. Lately, he's been venturing into left-field d'n'b, and these experiments have surprised some techno heads. But considering the genre's debt to hiphop and Tejada's love of breakbeats, the leap is less dramatic than it seems.
"Before I got into techno I was really into hiphop, and part of hiphop was electro. As that was developing, you'd start hearing some of the records coming out of New York and Chicago, and gradually, electro moved away from being part of hiphop and into being part of techno.
"It was really a natural transition. When I was listening to a lot of hiphop, I was always listening for the futuristic electro-techno sounds."
Tejada's relationship with hiphop didn't end with his introduction to techno, though. He still incorporates many of its elements into his own music, including frequent collaborations with the MC Divine Styler. In fact, he used to spend a lot more time making sample CDs for aspiring hiphop producers to use to kick-start their productions.
"I'm very happy I don't have to do that any more. That was my day gig for a few years. I've always loved hiphop, but now I don't get to produce it that much.
"I hear my samples used all the time, mostly on commercials. All these people are getting paid to do spots and cues who are basically just using my music."
These days the label he runs, Palette Recordings, is established enough that he's quit the day job to concentrate on his own music. Two full-length albums with frequent collaborator Arian Leviste are slated to come out this year on Playhouse and Moods and Grooves, and he's about to release a sequel to the Backstock compilation of Palette releases he put out in 2001.
Despite growing recognition elsewhere, Tejada still doesn't do much at home in L.A.
"When I was starting out, there wasn't too much going on here, so I had to go to where it was happening. I could have stayed and played for no money for nobody, or I could go to Europe each month. It was either that or stay here and try for 10 years to start a local scene, which is still not happening now."