Lady Miss Kier

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Lady Miss Kier
Deee-lite 1993.png
Kirby with Deelite
Background information
Birth nameKierin Magenta Kirby
Born (1963-08-15) August 15, 1963 (age 55)
Youngstown, Ohio, U.S.
OriginNew York City, U.S.
Genres
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, DJ, record producer
InstrumentsVocals
Years active1986–present
LabelsElektra
Pluto Moon
Associated actsDeee-Lite
Websitewww.ladykier.com

Kierin Magenta Kirby (born August 15, 1963), better known as Lady Miss Kier, is an American singer, DJ, fashion icon, and activist. She was the vocalist for the internationally acclaimed band Deee-Lite, followed by a career as a DJ and solo songwriter. She is also known widely for her social, environmental, and human-rights activism.

Early life[edit]

Kirby was born in Youngstown, Ohio, and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She spent time in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where she attended Kempsville High School, and Washington, D.C.; in 1982, at age 19, she settled in New York City to pursue a career in fashion design. She briefly attended the Fashion Institute of Technology to study textile design. She supported herself as a waitress, bartender, coat checker, bathroom attendant, go-go dancer, and art gallery receptionist while concentrating on design.[citation needed]

Music career[edit]

Deee-Lite[edit]

In 1986, Kirby met Ukrainian-born Dmitry Brill ("Supa DJ Dmitry") in New York, when she made him silver platform boots and a glitter blue spacesuit for his band, Shazork. That same year, she began experimenting with singing and writing music with Brill.[1]

Shortly after their first show in 1986, Brill was introduced to Towa Tei, a Japan-raised Korean DJ who Kirby and Brill invited to join the band several years later. Combining Kirby's vocal and writing talents with Brill's sampling skills and Tei's techno mixing, the three formed the band Deee-Lite. They had performances every month, with Kier designing new costumes for each one. When the band signed a seven-album deal with Elektra Records she stopped go-go dancing, which she previously had continued to do at Bentleys and The Copa.

Deee-Lite's sound was a mix of house, techno and dance elements. Deee-Lite shot to stardom in 1990 with the release of their first album World Clique and the hit "Groove Is in the Heart". In 1991, MTV nominated Deee-Lite for several Video Music Awards, including Video of the Year, Best Dance Video, Best New Artist, Best Breakthrough Video, and Best Editing in a Video.

Kirby was very involved in the band's output: writing, producing, and performing the bulk of the band's songs. Known as much for their outrageous personae and costumes as for their music, the three took on larger-than-life alter-egos: Super DJ Dmitri, Jungle DJ Towa Towa, and Lady Miss Kier. Kirby is credited with designing and creating the look of the band, as well as much of the artwork accompanying the band's albums and marketing material. Her initial look relied on revamped and exaggerated retro '60s fashions. Her signature look was a zip-up catsuit, platform shoes and flipped hair-do.

Deee-Lite followed their successful first album with Infinity Within, a politically charged second album, in 1992. Their third album Dewdrops in the Garden was released in 1994 and saw a return to house roots with a new, more naturalistic tone.[citation needed] Neither of the two follow-up albums matched the commercial success of their debut. The second and third albums were hampered by difficulties with the label, which refused to promote, support touring, or fund contractual videos.[citation needed] The band functionally broke up during the writing of their third album in 1993, but Kirby and Brill decided to finish the project and tour together to promote the album before going their separate ways. In 1996, a remix album was released, and a greatest hits album was released in 2001.[2]

International DJ and songwriting solo career[edit]

Brill's and Kirby's relationship fractured, and Deee-lite disbanded in 1995.[3] "When Dmitry and I split up, that was the end of the band," Kirby said. "It was sad because I loved the band. I didn't want to leave the band and the music and I missed my writing partner, but we couldn't get along."[3]

In 1995, after quitting the band, Lady Miss Kier moved to London where she began touring as a deejay and learning the technical end of production, recording, and engineering. In the late 1990s, she collaborated on the albums of Bootsy Collins, I Kamanchi and A Guy Called Gerald. In 2002, she contributed an exclusive solo track called "I'm Not Staying at Home" to the compilation Straight Up & Dirty.[4] Since going solo she has featured and co-written with artists such as Full Cycle, George Clinton, Junie Morrison, A Guy Called Gerald, Apollo Heights, and several P-Funk luminaries. Outside of the studio, she continued to showcase her live performances with new material for various music, film, and art festivals, as well as headlining numerous Gay Pride events worldwide. In 2012 she began performing a Deee-Lite tribute for various occasions, including the 2013 Paris Fashion Week for Kenzo[5] as well as a tribute to legendary NYC DJ Mark Kamins at Santos Party House.[6]

As a DJ, she has spun internationally for over 17 years at thousands of clubs and major festivals including Coachella Festival (2007),[7] Berlin's Berghain (2010)[8] and Sydney Mardi Gras (2012),[9] as well as radio programs such as East Village Radio[10] and Sirius XM.[11]

Live performances[edit]

In 2005, motivated by the invasion of Iraq, she began internationally performing live new unreleased music, including the DFA release of the anti–war song "Bulletproof".[12] She has headlined numerous festivals and gay pride events as well as opened for James Brown's last tour at the Good Vibrations festival in Australia.[13]

Style and fashion icon[edit]

In 1990 she was on the cover of Vogue.[14] In 1991, when internationally acclaimed designer Emilio Pucci was given a lifetime achievement award from CFDA Fashion Awards, she was asked to star in the tribute video.[15] In 2010, Elle named her one of Music's 25 Most Influential Style Icons with Grace Jones, Beyoncé, Debbie Harry, and M.I.A.[16] In 2010, Glamour named Lady Miss Kier as one of the Top Influential Music Style Icons with Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Gwen Stefani.[17] In 2012, Vogue quoted her experience with John Fluevog and the rise of "The Munster" which was made famous as a symbol of the 1990s house/club underground DJ scene.[18] Additionally, Fluevog credits her as the reason the shoe shot to popularity on its website's company history timeline, and credit her as the reason its company was successful.[19] As related, Vice Magazine noted that "Indeed, Lady Miss Kier's taste for the massive John Fluevog platform shoes she famously wore on their first album cover helped propel the early 90s into a 70s fashion revival". [20] In 2012, Rookie Mag wrote about her status as a style icon and the same year [21] respected shoe designer Jerome Rousseau named a shoe inspired by her after the singer. The shoe was called "Kier Iredescent".[22]

In 2013, W cited Lady Miss Kier with Chloë Sevigny and Twiggy as current fashion influences. Also in 2013, Ladygunn magazine featured a full spread on the singer in its Legends issue[23] and she was asked by Kenzo to be the performer for its Paris Fashion week party.[5] From 2007 to 2012, the house of Mugler used her song for its website campaign.[24][25] In 2015, she was referenced in The Guardian as an inspiration for designer Jeremy Scott's Fall 2016 line, which debuted at New York Fashion Week.[26] In 2015, Essie nail polish brand released a pink polish inspired by her, called Groove Is in the Heart, described as "don't stop 'til you get enough! this wildly happy peachy pink neon is ready to rave all night long".[27] In 2015, Givenchy's Milan Fashion Week show drew inspiration from her, borrowing a lyric from her World Clique album song "Power of Love", using the line "I believe in the power of love" as part of how it branded the debut of its Fall 2016 line.[28] In 2016, Vogue Magazine interviewed Lady Miss Kier, calling her a "Club Kid Icon", referencing how world class designers know her as a "legend and a lady", highlighting how designers such as Thierry Mugler have borrowed from her look.[29]

Movies and books[edit]

Her music has been used in a multitude of movies, including The Heat (2013),[30] House of Versace (2013),[31] Crazy Sexy Cool: The TLC Story (2013),[32] Charlie's Angels (2000),[citation needed] Wigstock (1995), Party Girl (1995), Dumb and Dumber (1994), Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989), Charlie's Angels (2000), I Now Pronounce you Chuck and Larry (2007) and numerous TV series episodes including Britain's Got More Talent, The Voice, RuPaul's Drag Race, American Crime Story, Coronation Street, Transparent, Misfits, Hello Ladies, The Heat, New Girl, How I Met Your Mother, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Private Practice, License to Wed, Dancing with the Stars, What Love is, Down to You, Lost & Found, Can't Hardly Wait, Bill Nye the Science Guy, The War Room, Beavis and Butt-Head, and Big Mouth. [33]

In 2018, the Netflix series Big Mouth released a Planned Parenthood and Deee-lite themed episode [34] -- relatedly, Lady Miss Kier has been a longtime pro-choice advocate and safe sex was a theme in Deee-lite's music. In 1995, Lady Kier was featured in Wigstock: The Movie, which included live footage of her performing and a song on the soundtrack.[35] In 2001 she was included in Summer Love: The Rave-umentary.[36] In 2005, Lady Miss Kier was the featured artist on the podcast Ron-Kat-Delic Show. Her words also were shared through a number of published books, including Verbal Abuse – No 3 by Chi Chi Valenti,[37] Creative Time: The Book: 33 Years of Public Art in New York by Anne Pasternak,[38] Creative License: The Law and Culture of Digital Sampling by Kembrew McLeod and Peter DiCola[39] and All Music Guide to Electronica: The Definitive Guide to Electronic Music by Vladimir Bogdanov.[40]

Panels and appearances[edit]

Lady Miss Kier has spoken at Princeton University's "Youth Music and Youth Culture",[41] Cooper Union's multimedia presentation "Hiccup" in 1993, Apple's 1995 "Future Arts Panel" with Peter Gabriel and Electronic Frontier Foundation founder, John Perry Barlow, George Washington University's Law School Summit Future of Music Coalition in 2007[42] and New York University's "NYU Panel Nelson Sullivan: Vlogging in the 80s" in 2013.[43] In 2013 she was featured in an exhibit entitled "NYC 1993", which was presented through New York City's New Museum.[44] Beyond the installation, her voice recording was played via pay phones throughout the New York area. In 2013, Lady Miss Kier was the featured voiceover artist in The Jazz Foundation of America's animated promo for the event "A Great Night in Harlem"[45][46]

Space Channel 5 and lawsuit[edit]

In 2003, Kirby sued video game company Sega, claiming that the character of "Ulala" in its game Space Channel 5 was an unauthorized use of her likeness.[47] Kirby claimed that Sega offered to pay her US$16,000 to license her name, image and songs for the game, though she rejected its offer. Kirby alleged that the video game maker later used her resemblance anyway (including the name Ulala – referencing Kirby's signature phrase "Ooh la la" in her recorded and live performances), at which point she initiated the lawsuit. She ultimately lost the suit.[48]

Political views and activism[edit]

Lady Kier used her popularity as a platform to promote a variety of causes and is widely known not only as a singer, DJ, and fashion icon, but also as a social, environmental, and human rights activist.[49] She is a vocal advocate for LGBTQ rights and a longtime celebrated ally of the LGBTQ community.[50] As such, she is frequently invited to host, perform, MC, and DJ gay pride parades and associated events internationally.[51] She is staunchly pro-choice and is a women's rights advocate, was featured in TV informercial promoting pro-choice political action "The Most Exciting Women In Music" alongside Corina, Juliet Cuming, Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth), MC Lyte, Kate Pierson (B-52's), Crystal Waters, Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club) in 1991.[52] In 1991, Lady Miss Kier was an award presenter at The Reebok Human Rights Awards.[53]

A strong supporter of environmental causes, her album "Infinity Within" was the first CD ever released using eco-pak packaging, cutting the amount of plastic used by half. A portion of the album's profits was pledged to Greenpeace and she was recognized for her efforts with an environmental media award from the World Wildlife Fund.[54] As part of her environmental activism, she called attention to the issue of global warming on the Deee-lite album Infinity Within with her song "I had a dream I was falling through a hole in the ozone layer" [55] and Vogue Magazine has highlighted her "interest in supporting environmental causes".[29] She is an anti-war activist and in 2010, she released a new version of the P-Funk track "Bulletproof" with Ray Mang with lyrics calling attention to the perils of war and denouncing global militarization after the song was featured in 2005 during her world tour.[56] She is a longtime leader in getting out the vote and encouraging Americans to register to vote, her music video "Vote Baby Vote" was featured for MTV's "Rock The Vote" in 1992 and was highlighted by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the top "ten major moments in rock the vote history".[57] During the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, she ultimately voted for Green Party candidate Jill Stein [58] but was an outspoken and enthusiastic supporter of Bernie Sanders. To promote Bernie Sanders, she hosted an art exhibit at Hole Gallery in New York City and a fundraiser called "Bernin' Up NYC" to rally supporters get out the vote.[59]

References[edit]

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  56. ^ WestSavannah (2010-02-02), Ray Mang (featuring Lady Kier) - Bulletproof, retrieved 2018-07-12
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  59. ^ "Bernie In The Bronx: "If We Win NY We Are Going To Make It To The White House!"". Gothamist. Retrieved 2018-07-12.

External links[edit]