THE US dance veteran Kerri Chandler graces the decks of The Warehouse in Leeds for the second time in four months, this time he’s been invited back by Back to Basics.
Having been around for so long, what keeps you relevant?
I think I’ve just always done what I felt. I think things work in cycles anyway. Things always cycle back around. I think also I got lucky, because I’ve been able to work in the same way that I’ve always done. I try and make music that is timeless. I can play the same thing I did twenty years ago and you would never know it was any different.
How do you make timeless, classic music?
For me, the bottom line is… it’s a dance record. People have to dance to it. That’s the key. It’s a house record, but it’s a dance record. I try not to do too many changes, because if you do too many breakdowns and changes, people don’t know how to keep the groove going. If you have a record that keeps changing, and there are breaks going and it’s all elaborate and there is nothing you can really identify within the song as some kind of hook, then there is a problem.
How has house music changed since the early 90s?
It was all very much localised when we first started out, now it’s so dominant everywhere. You don’t even know where music is coming from anymore. Hot music could be coming out of someone’s basement in Yugoslavia! I think it’s a world wide thing, but again, it is still quite localised and people operate in little cliques. Like, all the UK guys clique together and they all know each other. Even over here in the states, it’s like an east coast and a west coast thing. We all know each other here, but there are certain environments. Even the Detroit guys have a certain way they make music.
Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
It really is a double-edged sword. As long as the music is out there and it’s floating around and people are popular with it, you get to do more gigs. So it takes away on one hand, but you get it back in other ways. You get it back from DJing all over the place, like I’m doing. I’m lucky in that, the minute I put a record out there people, actually buy it. I have a very good fanbase. I am very, very blessed that way and lucky to have the people around me that I do. Even with that though, the sales aren’t what they used to be back in 1990. It’s different. At the same time, I’ve never DJ-ed as much as I’m doing now, 10 years later. I DJ-ed a lot back in the day, but not like now and not getting paid what I get paid. It’s just different now. It’s more of a promotional tool. No-one is ever going to know how to police an MP3. That is just never going to happen. If you can turn on an iPod and stream like, 1,200 house stations… you just can’t police that.
What do you think about people copying your style or techniques?
I think it’s really flattering, honestly. I think if they can figure out how to do it… go for it! If someone hears something like that, they automatically say, ‘hey, that sounds like Kerri’… ‘Kerri-esq’ that’s my favourite one…‘Kerri bass line’ or ‘Kerri keys’ it’s hilarious, but I think it’s kind of fun. I mean, if the next generation are finding my stuff kind of cool to mess around with or sample, it’s still their interpretation, I’m not going to go after anybody like, ‘give me my…’ no way. I started once too and one of the first things I started doing, was sampling. I admire the younger generation and how they are coming in. If they like my stuff, then that’s cool. There are a couple of people that started that way and now I really, really like their stuff.
You played in Leeds back in November. What did you think to the Warehouse?
The Warehouse last time was one of the best gigs I have played in a long time. I cant wait to go back and also play for Back to Basics who I have a long time relationship with.
What is life like for a ‘superstar DJ’, is it really all champagne and cocktails?
You really don’t know how hectic it is. I’ll give you a quick rundown for how things work. I land; I get to the hotel, sleep for a few hours and then go do a sound check. My soundchecks can last anywhere from two hours to right when the doors open up. That’s just the first stage. Maybe I will go out with the promoters to get something to eat. Maybe I’m just waiting around at the club. If I do eat something, maybe they will just bring me something at the club. I’ll stay for the majority, because I like to see the warm-up DJs. Then I play, play… Get back to the hotel and get in the shower, with just enough time to get the flight to the next place.
Saturday, The Warehouse, Somers Street, Leeds, 10pm to 6am, £15, Tel: 0113 246 8287. www.theleedswarehouse.com