Kerri Chandler's Sonic Love-Letter to His Favorite Clubs
Mar 27, 2023
Ana Monroy Yglesias
4 min read
New Jersey house legend Kerri Chandler was only 19 when he got booked to play London's Ministry of Sound. It also happened to be the first time he traveled by plane. And after getting his start—and making waves—at Newark's Paradise Garage-inspired Club Zanzibar, he got to play Paradise before it closed in 1987. Since then, he's played many of the legendary dance clubs across the globe, some many times over. But the longer you're in the game, the more you see some of your favorite venues sadly close.
In 2018, Chandler was walking around New York on a mission to find the buildings his favorite clubs used to be in. He was shocked to find a demolition at the former site of Paradise Garage.
"I put my hands over my face. I couldn't believe they did that. I'm glad I have it as a memory, but if you haven't seen pictures of it, you would never know it existed," Chandler told The Guardian.
This heart-wrenching moment inspired his stellar 2022 album Spaces and Places, on which he honored 24 of his favorite clubs around the world. The ambitious project is a three-hour journey to some of the best venues in the world—some of them sadly since shuttered. Recorded in the spaces each track takes its name from, the songs carry the imitable vibe of these legendary clubs.
He hopes that listeners of Spaces and Places can "go back and check these places, if they’re still around.” The clubs he pays tribute to are: New York's Knockdown Center and Output (now Superior Ingredients), London's Printworks and Ministry of Sound, Milan's Magazzini Generali, Manchester's The Warehouse Project, Helsinki's Kaiku, Porto's Industria, Paris's Rex, Barcelona's Razzmatazz, Eathos, Berlin's Watergate, Lisbon's LuxFrágil, Plan B, Cork's Sir Henrys, Croatia's Barbarellas, Napoli's Basic Club, Dublin's District 8, Amsterdam's De Marktkantine, La Baule's La Grange, Club Qu, Ibiza's DC-10, Glasgow's Sub Club, and San Francisco's Halcyon.
"Never Thought [Printworks]" is an upbeat, jazzy house track written on a piano that lives in the soon-to-be-closed London club's green room. Almost every DJ who's played Printworks has signed the piano, so there was a lot of good energy on that one.
"Dirty [Rex]" is a tribute to Paris' Rex Club and features Rex regular and friend of Chandler, French producer DJ Deep, along with his son. Laurent Garnier opened the iconic Parisian club in 1992. It played an essential role in bringing American house music heavy-weights to Europe as the sound gained popularity across the pond in the '90s.
Rex has remained one of the city's oldest and longest-running venues dedicated to house and techno, and Chandler has continued to bring his soulful house sound there over the years. (Although, one infamous time in 2013, he had to remind the crowd what house was.)
“There was one club in La Baule, France, called La Grange where we’d do all-night parties, and you never know what to expect. It’s me and my friend Nadir, who’s a saxophone player,” Chandler told Mixmag. “The song on the album is called "Morning Heat" because it was always such a hot, steamy club, no air. By the time you're done in there, you have to have a change of clothes.”
The Stevie Wonder of House has been booked regularly at Glasgow's long-standing Sub Club since 1993, so of course it made the cut with "Subbie [Sub Club]."
"When I was [recording] at Sub Club, I had the ceiling rattling with different notes that I was playing. Then outside I recorded the train that goes past in the middle of the night, you can actually feel it rumbling the building,” he told Mixmag with a laugh. “These are elements that everyone knows if you’ve ever been in that club—you know what it is. If you hear someone call "83!" you know that’s the bingo hall next door.”