Kaoz and Creation with Kerri Chandler
Tony TK Smith

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Kaoz and Creation with Kerri Chandler

"I want the whole night to go well. I want it all to go well. I don't wanna beat a place up and leave it damaged."

Earlier this year, during a booze sodden weekend at the Bognor Regis Butlins, I found myself stood in a converted bowling alley watching Kerri Chandler DJing. It was the second time I'd seen the esteemed New Jersey selector.

My first taste of the man behind all time classics like "Atmosphere", "Rain", and "Mommy, What's a Record?" ended abruptly after one of our party — a very, very pissed member of our party — got a bit too close to a mafioso's girlfriend and we found ourselves quietly ushered out of the VIP section of the club and dumped onto the backstreets of Turin.

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Back to Butlins and Kerri Chandler was smashing it. House foundations rubbed into future classics, Kerri bashed live keys over "Move Your Body" and the like, and a room full of exhausted weekend warriors coalesced into a heaving mass ready for one last blast. It was as good as a set as you're likely to hear on a Sunday night in an out-of-season seaside town on the south coast.

Kerri Chandler, for those that don't know — and if you don't know, then please, do yourself a favour and listen to nothing but Kerri cuts for the next few months — is, arguably, one of the most important producers and DJs in the history of house music. Chandler began DJing at 13 and producing at 14. Put simply, deep house wouldn't sound the way it does without his contributions to the genre. He seamlessly combines the soulful and the rough-cut, crafting club ready jams of devout devotion.

Chandler also runs the Madhouse and it's sub-label MadTech, which have released top-tier house jams by the likes of Krystal Klear, Jerome Sydenham and Tony Lioni. Last month saw the birth of Chandler's latest label, Kaoz Theory, so called because, "Early on in my career I used the nickname Kaoz 6:23. It was because that was what around me - chaos. The chaos of the studio, the chaotic travel schedules, but more importantly the fact that every year around June 23rd something big would happen in my life. It was always crazy around that date. Using the name was my way of trying to bring some kind of order to the chaos."

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We've premiered a cut from the accompanying Koaz Theory compilation here on THUMP already, so it only felt right and natural to give the man himself a call.

THUMP: I saw you kill at Hideout the other week. Were you enjoying yourself as much as the crowd were?
Kerri Chandler: It was fun! It's such a welcoming festival. Getting to Croatia in the first place is tricky though. FIrst you get two connections, and then from there it's a three hour car ride. But it reminds of a new Ibiza almost. It's still untapped and untouched. It's not exclusive or expensive and you get a lot for your money. Ibiza kind of tries to abuse you with costs. Croatia is still hidden away, and everyone's open about the parties. Even at private parties you're made to feel welcome — you don't have to be a certain kind of person to get into a party. And you can keep going all night long. It's all about music. Also, you can go swimming in the ocean, you can take a boat out. It's untouched. It's a hidden away thing.

Here's the odd thing. I saw Heidi for a minute. I think I saw MK for a bit. I'd was travelling non-stop. So I crashed the first night. Then I had a chicken sandwich. I shouldn't have done. I wanted to go and see Heidi but my stomach was like, "NO! Sit down, don't breathe, don't move." Then it was really hot in my room. I texted her and said I couldn't make it. The sandwich tore me up. She didn't text back, which I thought was odd. The next morning I see her and the chicken had done the same to her. It was a sandwich in a plastic wrap and It was the last thing you could get. I had to eat something.

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You've got something special lined up this week, right?
I'm doing the Essential Mix on Radio 1. I've not done one for a few years and this one goes out live. The only time I usually hear the radio is when I'm in a car to or from somewhere. As far as music goes, I'm usually listening to promos.

Are you constantly loaded with new promos? How many things do you think you get sent a week?
Stacks. About 80 tracks a day. I sift through as many as I can. If I know the person who's sent it, I get through them. I buy a lot of my stuff so I don't have to answer emails. I know I'm missing a lot of stuff, but I've probably bought it anyway. It's easier for me to scroll through things on Beatport. My management sift through things for me too, things they think I might be into. People give me USBs at parties. I get sent a lot of records, a lot of CDs. At the end of a night I might get at least, ten, twenty things.

I'm more inclined to listen to things people have given me. If I like it I'll play it. I'll often find myself skipping through a track and seeing how it breaks down and seeing how it works.

I'm intrigued by your use of the word, 'work' — is that how you view DJing? As a building thing?
Definitely. The potential of what I'm hearing in my head needs to translate to the dancefloor immediately. I want people to have a good time and I want that to get across. If I'm feeling in a certain mood I want that to come across too.

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I try and think about the entire night. That's the thing: I want the whole night to go well. I want it all to go well. I don't wanna beat a place up and leave it damaged. I don't want the next DJ to have to try and pick things up. I'm very careful about where I'm coming out of and where people have to go into. I speak with people when I'm on the dancefloor and listen to them very carefully.

Certain songs and certain tones don't sound right on certain systems. You've got to think, Ok, an 808 won't work here, but a 909 will. Tracks will but vocals won't. I know what these things are supposed to sound like. I tune the room to how its supposed to sound with that system. I'm there longer at soundcheck then I am DJing. At a festival I try and work out who the engineer is and I'll get to know them, and I'll see where I'm keeping my levels set, and I'll listen to the floor, and they'll ask me what my opinion is about the levels. They listen to that. We speak the same language. Engineers don't want people in the red. If they see you care about your sound, they'll make sure you're right. You good? You good!

Kerri Chandler Presents Kaoz Theory is out now on Kaoz Theory. Kerri's also playing at Lovebox in London this weekend. If you want to be in with a chance of winning two VIP tickets courtesy of THUMP, head here!

Follow Kerri Chandler on Facebook // SoundCloud // Twitter

Josh is on Twitter too