Key Tracks: Kerri Chandler on “Get It Off”

From tragedy to comedy: House legend Kerri Chandler recounts the circumstances behind two of his earliest tracks.

Kerri Chandler - Get It Off

The first record I released was “Get It Off.” I used to play house music, but I was always doing rap stuff at the time. My friend said, “I really think that you could be making house music. You should try a couple of tracks.” I said, “Nah, there’s no way, man. I really don’t know what I'm doing with that kind of stuff.” He said, “You should try it, just for the hell of it.”

“Get It Off” was me trying to get something off my mind. My girlfriend was raped and killed behind Zanzibar. This guy smashed her head open with a rock and left her dead behind he club. I was completely devastated. Our anniversary was coming up, it was maybe about two or three years. I literally had to get it off of my mind, and the one place that I knew where I could get it off my mind was music. That’s what I did.

Everybody started to use the same crazy rip sound. Even C&C Music Factory.

To have a life ended so abruptly... That’s where I get the signature from that song. That rip going across the record was someone taking her away from me and changing my whole groove. My first song was actually one of my biggest songs. Everybody started to use the same crazy rip sound. Even C&C Music Factory. Funny enough, right after she died – literally the month – everything started happening for me, which is really sad because she helped me so much. I always think that she’s looking down on me, watching over me, making sure everything’s OK.

I have always tried to make records according to what I felt. I don’t even bother going to the studio trying to force something. I think that’s the worst thing in the world to do. I think you have to make it flow and don’t go in thinking, “This is worth a million dollars.” One thing I have learned about house music is that you can’t lie to the audience. People are going to listen right through it somehow and they tell, “Oh, he’s just trying to sound like blah, blah, blah.” You have to be true to your music.

She’s Crazy

You can always tell what kind of day I had if you listen to my music. I’m not joking. I needed something for the flipside and my grandfather used to be a jazz singer. He also used to get ripped. He would come downstairs with a pint of Jack Daniels going, “You boys shhhhhould be...” I’m sitting there and we had just finished this track and he had this really funny song. I said, “If I don’t do anything with this, this is going to be the dumbest thing if I don’t use this for something. Let me just make it into a track somehow.”
The song goes:

My lady, my lady,
She’s cock-eyed, she’s crazy,
She’s banjo legs, pigeon toes,
The lady wears no underclothes,
They say her breasts smell sweet,
But I’d rather smell her feet.

My uncle was in a strip club and the song came on. He’s like, “Hey, that’s my dad, what the hell is going on here?”

That was one of my grandfather’s signature songs that he sang around the house. I said, “This is nuts!” So when I needed a B-side, I did “She’s Crazy.” It was a lot of fun working with my grandfather, I still have a lot of multitracks that are unused. It’s so sad to listen to them because he passed away a few years ago and I really didn’t have the courage to listen to many of them. A wonderful man.

The funny story with that – and I had a good laugh – is that after the song came out, my uncle was in a strip club and the song came on. So he’s like, “Oh my god. Hey, that’s my dad and my nephew, what the hell is going on here?” He’s freaking out. “That’s my dad!” And everyone goes, “No, that’s a stripper. What are you talking about? You lost your mind?” My uncle used to pop around from time to time, so he would hear things as they progressed, but I don’t think it ever occurred to him that I was actually making records with these things. So when he heard it at the strip club he was like, “What the...?”

Kerri Chandler told this story as part of his lecture at the 2005 Red Bull Music Academy.

By Kerri Chandler on August 7, 2013

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