When this writer arrived at Arc, a new room for Boston house music, at about 12.15 AM, John Tejada was already hard at it. Working his own mix board, rich with shape-shifting knobs and beat-breaking buttons, Tejada put the bluest house music this writer has heard recently into talk and walk shape. Blues is a music of talk and walk — of move and monologue — and in house music there are plenty of move and monologue tracks. Tejada dropped a couple of those — glitch vocal tool ins — but his talk works sounded most prickly and seductive when he made instrumentals do the talking.
Born in Vienna, Austria, to an Austrian, orcherstra-conducting Dad and a Mexican Mom, Tejada, who will be forty years old next year, has been workling his uniquely bluesy sound for almost fifteen years — but rareky in boton. His last vist that we know of happened four yrears ago. The rarity of his performing in Boston assured a full dance floor at Arc, and full it was, and entirely committed to Tejada’s mix work. Guys danced to the front; cameras flashed on all sides; and on and on Tejada moved his music, never coasting, not taking a bathroom break (something no DJ should ever have to do in a two hour set), no acceding to a fan greeting. (Why fans feel they have the OK to interrupt DJs, this writer will never understand. People at a rock or jazz concert wouldn’t think to come up on stage like that.) With Tejada, fans evidently felt they owed him the space not to play “hey good-buddy ! hi-ya !” with. He was able thus to concentrate all attention upon forty or so mix board edit buttons of which he made constant use.
He describes his sound as techno — but of the Detroit, not the German version. Detroit, at Arc, it was ; a sound almost entirely blues based from which ticklish, twisty, wire-thin strands of upper register noise arose, seductive to the body as to one’s ear. His sound had family resemblance to that of Carl Craig : choppy but soulful, airy as well as blues. Tejada, however, dropped a sound much more walk and talk than Craig’s glide and sublime.
Playing his best-liked “Elsewhere,’ “Somewhere,’ and “Here” — the titles felt appropriate to the sonic displacements Tejada made — as well as “Wanna,” “Seven X Seven” and several others similar, Tejada played stomp and tickle, rumble and fumble; and his fans loved every move.
There was, however, less dancing than appreciating. Most of the approximately 225 fans stood to watch Tejada do his mixes and to snap photos of it. This was not a mistake. Tejada played the mix board as if it were a piano. Almost every knob and button made its mark, as Tejada jumped from track to track and shattered, repeated, stuttered, undertoned, fade-knobbed, flatted and sharped his sound. He kept his head down, his hands on the music, making it a throat, lips, and belly of burp, squeak, and irresistibly lush blues walk-offs.
Curiously, Tejada’s set ended not at Arc’s closing time but at 1.25 A.M. he was followed by Matt Mcneil, a local DJ who dropped a plush, loud, embracing sound. Mcneil has the deep house chops needed to take over from a headline master, and he did not lose Tejada’s ground. This writer will be very disappointed if Mcneil does not get invited, and soon, to open at Bijou, Boston’s most important house music venue, and, quickly thereafter, to headline.
— Deedee Freedberg / Feeling the Music