kerri chandler in conversation with jeremy underground

Watch an exclusive stream of their Ray Ban x Boiler Room b2b and listen in to a conversation between Chicago deep house legend Kerri Chandler and his biggest fan, Parisian DJ Jeremy Underground, as they discuss 15 years of friendship, positivity in...

by i-D Staff
02 September 2016, 11:45am

Kerri: There are two guys that know my shit better than me; Jeremy and this guy named Max in Italy. I remember going on eBay once and there was this yellow copy of the first proper house record I made that had Get It Off, Super Lover, Drink On Me on this one thing. I only ever had 500 promos and I gave them all out; I didn't give a shit, it was my first record so I just wanted everyone to have them. So I began going back and collecting all my old records so I could give them to my kids one day, and I found this one on eBay and bid, you know, max $200 on it. I checked my account later on thinking that I'd definitely have won it, but it had sold for like $1000!

Jeremy: I remember the exact number, because I paid for it. It was 2012 and I paid $900.

K: Then the same thing happened again. I found another one and bid and it later turned out that Max got this one. He paid like $1900 for it. I wouldn't even pay that much for my own shit. I don't even think I made that much off that record in the first place!

J: The one I bought was actually the first time that record was ever sold online ever. Anyway, then we met backstage of DC10 in Ibiza the same summer, and I'm like, 'Hey Kerri! I won your first record on eBay!' Which is when I found out that I was bidding against the producer of the record, which is kind of weird.

K: It was weird but I only went to $200, so I don't know who you were fighting with. Anyway, we've known each other for 15 years now...

J: But I first went to a club to see you play in 2002. That was before the tshirt picture, that was from 2005. But I was so obsessed with you during my whole youth. People would even call me Kerri in some Paris circles. 

K: You pulled some shit I'd never do. You went back to my old stomping ground. I don't even go back to East Orange! You went to East Orange and videotaped the old place I used to resident and do the sound and shit, and the studios, and interviewed everybody. Like, you found everybody that I used to work with in the 90s. I don't even know where these people are.

J: I wasn't even making a documentary or anything. It was a pilgrimage for me; I went with Abigail Adams who was the founder of Moving Records which is a legendary New Jersey house label where you released your music. I just went to the address on the back of the record and knocked on the door and Clinton answered. You hadn't seen him in 20 years or something, but he showed me his basement and there was that yellow record on the wall. For me it was important to feel the vibes and see where it happened, you know? I could've made a documentary back then. Not only about you but about the Jersey sound.

K: I never made any pilgrimage or anything; I always look forward and never look back to where things were because it feels like another lifetime. We were talking in the car earlier and Jeremy asked what my first remix was and I couldn't think, but he knows this stuff, he knows more than I do.

J: I don't make music myself, I'm just obsessed with some people like him, that's my job. Professionally obsessed. I'm just a music lover and a record collector and an enthusiast. And I just call myself a DJ and try to be as good as I can. But some people, like Kerri, are really good at both. And some people are really good at only one, but they are forced to do the other. And that's when things go wrong. My point is that I never want to force myself to make music, because then you end up with bad records.

K: For me it was always both. My dad's a DJ so I got my roots from him, and all of his friends were producers like Kool and the Gang, so I got to see that shit first hand as a little kid. I was always watching and learning and trying to figure out what they were doing, and so I became an intern over there. I loved the whole process of making records, but I also love to build machines and collecting decks and records, and I just love showing the final product through DJing and seeing people's reaction to it.

J: Kerri has a hardware obsession too - we were geeking about headshells earlier… turntable headshells that protect from vibration. I'm gonna order some tonight.

K: Japanese madness!

J: I only started DJing 6 years ago though, Kerri is the master of longevity.

K: He's being really modest. It's just a matter of good music. You can't deny good music. With house you can actually tell the person's soul and if you feel something you should chase them down. I have a beautiful fan base and I've always reacted to that, I treat people how they treat me. The truth of it is, I love keeping in touch with everyone because I like to see everyone do well. And he's had a place in my heart always. He should be singing the blues sometimes but he's come out on top!

J: And it's so important to be open with people on social media too, because you have to speak! It's important as an artist and as a man to be totally honest. If you're feeling good you talk about it and if you're feeling bad you talk about it, and people will understand you better. Back to what Kerri was talking about, in 2002/2003, I don't remember exactly but I was 15 or 16 and he signed his autograph on a piece of paper for me. With it he also wrote down his email and 'keep in touch' and I was like wow, because I didn't know him. So Kerri became my first idol in music as well as the nicest dude on earth. He gave me the total picture of what you should be as an artist; respectful and grateful to your fans. I saw so much warmth in him. As a promoter and fan boy at 17, we were at a dinner together before a show and, you probably don't remember, but you bought dinner for me and I thought it was so cool.

K: This guy is really thoughtful. I'll try not to get too personal, but he gave me this Pacman pin that he got from someone special, and I told him that I'd always keep it. And I still have it. Anyway, I've been following what he's up to too; he's like a younger brother to me. In other news, we both have a lot of odd machines, and we both have this one called the STUDIO440 so we decided we'd do something for his label, My Love Is Underground, and just do everything on this machine. At first we were just joking but I've actually revamped my machine and had new parts put in and when things slow down again I'm gonna sit down and make it happen.

J: Aside from this, the goal with launching my label was to showcase the youth and the classic vibe that Kerri introduced to me. Bringing back some classic sounds. And to anyone knowing music, they'll know that everything I have released is kind of a tribute to Kerri and that vibe that we want to keep alive. I played a show in Florence a few weeks ago and - I always look to the crowd and see if I recognise anyone from Facebook or other shows - and if I know someone then I just go after them because I want to give them that feeling that I got when Kerri recognised me all those years ago. Anyway, I saw this guy who looked like he was definitely here for the music and he looked really young. So I went to talk to him afterwards and he told me he was 18 and moving to Chicago soon and that he hopes to see me play there too. And I looked at him and thought, we need more of these people. You know, I bought my first Kerri Chandler record when I was 11 or 12, you know? You're never too young. I will remember that guy forever. It's not a random club guy whose high on ketamine or whatever. He was a true music lover. I'd just love a whole club of people like that.


Text James Jacob
Photography Boiler Room

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kerri chandler
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