Lady Miss Kier

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Lady Miss Kier
Lady Kier as the Goddess Nemesis.
Background information
Birth name Kierin Magenta Kirby
Born (1963-08-15) August 15, 1963 (age 52)
Origin Youngstown, Ohio, United States
Genres Dance, club, dance-pop, house, soul
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, DJ, record producer
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1986–present
Labels Elektra Records
Pluto Moon Records
Associated acts Deee-Lite

Kierin Magenta Kirby (born August 15, 1963), better known as Lady Miss Kier, is an American singer, DJ and fashion icon. She is notable as having been the vocalist for the now defunct band Deee-lite.

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, DC; in 1982, at age 19, she settled in New York City, New York 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]


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 local DJ Towa Tei, a Korean-raised Japanese man. 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" "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. Kirby's sultry, feminine, and soulful voice backed up by the funky, catchy beats was unique for its time, and came to personify the club culture of New York City.[citation needed]

A classic Lady Miss Kier retro look from the 1990s.
Lady Miss Kier signature style in the 1990s

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. At the height of the band's success, her style had a major influence on fashion trends, showing up in a variety of retail venues.[citation needed]

Deee-Lite followed their successful first album with a politically charged second album, Infinity Within, 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 nineties, she collaborated on the albums of such artists as 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, muse[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" along with Grace Jones, Beyoncé, Debbie Harry, and M.I.A.[16] In 2010, Glamour also named Lady Miss Kier as one of the "Top Influential Music Style Icons" ever, along with Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Gwen Stefani.[17] In 2012, Vogue quoted her experience with John Fluevog and the rise of the "The Munster" which was made famous as a symbol of the '90s house/club underground DJ scene.[18] Additionally, Fluevog credits her as the reason the shoe shot to popularity on their website's company history timeline, and credit her as the reason their company was successful "Deee-lite’s Lady Miss Kier sent the Fluevog brand skyrocketing to international fandom".[19] In 2012, Rookie Mag wrote about her status as a style icon and the same year [20] respected shoe designer Jerome Rousseau named a shoe inspired by her after the singer. The shoe was called "Kier Iredescent".[21] In 2013, W cited Lady Miss Kier along Chloë Sevigny and Twiggy as current fashion influences. In 2013, Ladygunn magazine featured a full spread on the singer in their "Legends" issue[22] and was asked by Kenzo to be the performer for their Paris Fashion week party.[5]

From 2007 to 2012, the house of Mugler used her song for their website campaign.[23][24] 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.[25] 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".[26] 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 they branded the debut of their fall 2016 line.[27]

Movies and books[edit]

Her music has been used in a multitude of movies including The Heat (2013),[28] House of Versace (2013),[29] Crazy Sexy Cool: The TLC Story (2013),[30] Charlie's Angels (2000),[citation needed] Wigstock (1995), Party Girl (1995), Dumb and Dumber (1994), Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989) and several television episodes.[citation needed]

In 1995, Lady Kier was featured in Wigstock: The Movie which included live footage of her performing and a song on the soundtrack.[31] In 2001 she was included in Summer Love: The Rave-umentary.[32] In 2005, Lady Miss Kier was the featured artist on the podcast Ron-Kat-Delic Show. Her words were also shared through a number of published books, Some of which include Verbal Abuse - No 3 by Chi Chi Valenti,[33] Creative Time: The Book: 33 Years of Public Art in New York by Anne Pasternak,[34] Creative License: The Law and Culture of Digital Sampling by Kembrew McLeod and Peter DiCola[35] and All Music Guide to Electronica: The Definitive Guide to Electronic Music by Vladimir Bogdanov.[36]

Panels and appearances[edit]

Lady Kier used her popularity as a platform to promote social and environmental awareness. With the release of Deee-Lite's second album, Infinity Within, they are the first group to have released an EcoPack, which reduces plastic packaging more than 50% and became the new norm,[37] winning her the Environmental Media award by the World Wide Fund for Nature. In 1991, Kirby was featured in "The Most Exciting Woman in Music (1991)" public service announcement which promoted women's rights to choose when and whether to have children, alongside music icons such as Kate Pierson (The B-52's), Crystal Waters, Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads), Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth) and MC Lyte.[38] In 1991, Lady Miss Kier was an award presenter at The Reebok Human Rights Awards.[39]

Lady Miss Kier has spoken at Princeton University's "Youth Music and Youth Culture",[40] 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[41] and New York University's "NYU Panel Nelson Sullivan: Vlogging in the 80s" in 2013.[42] In 2013 she was featured in an exhibit entitled "NYC 1993", which was presented through New York City's New Museum.[43] Beyond the installation, her voice recording was played via pay phones throughout the New York area. In 2013, Lady Miss Kier was the featured voice over artist in The Jazz Foundation Of America's animated promo for the event "A Great Night in Harlem"[44][45]

Space Channel 5 and lawsuit[edit]

In 2003, Kirby sued video game company Sega, claiming that the character of "Ulala" in their game Space Channel 5 was an unauthorized use of her likeness.[46] Kirby claimed that Sega offered to pay her US$16,000 to license her name, image and songs for the game, though she rejected their 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 and further detail on the case isn't publicly available.


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  34. ^ "Today in Music: A look back at pop music". 2002-06-25. Retrieved 2015-07-12. 
  35. ^ "Creative License Book Release | Future of Music Coalition". 2011-02-26. Retrieved 2015-07-12. 
  36. ^ All Music Guide to Electronica: The Definitive Guide to Electronic Music - Vladimir Bogdanov - Google Books. Retrieved 2015-07-12. 
  37. ^ "The Most Trusted Place for Answering Life's Questions". Answers. 2007-12-13. Retrieved 2015-07-12. 
  38. ^ "Video: The Most Exciting Women in Music ~ Frequency". 2011-08-14. Retrieved 2015-07-12. 
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  41. ^ "FMC Newsletter #60 | September 6, 2007 | Future of Music Coalition". 2015-07-08. Retrieved 2015-07-12. 
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  44. ^ [4][dead link]
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External links[edit]