Lady Miss Kier
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Kierin Magenta Kirby (born August 15, 1963), better known as Lady Miss Kier, is an American singer, songwriter, DJ, designer, fashion icon, and activist. She was the vocalist for the band Deee-Lite, followed by a career as a disc jockey and solo songwriter. She has taken several undertakings in support of LGBTQ rights, women's rights, human rights, the environmental movement, the anti-war movement, and the get out the vote movement.
Lady Miss Kier
|Birth name||Kierin Magenta Kirby|
|Also known as||Lady Kier, Kier Kirby|
|Born||August 15, 1963|
Youngstown, Ohio, U.S.
|Origin||New York City, U.S.|
|Occupation(s)||Singer, songwriter, DJ, producer|
|Associated acts||Deee-Lite, Brill|
Kirby was born in Youngstown, Ohio. As a child, she lived in Pittsburgh, Virginia Beach, and Washington, D.C. At the age of 17, she moved to New York City to study fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology but she was disillusioned by the teachers and dropped out immediately to design on her own. She designed and sold eccentric disco-inspired clothes to people she met at nightclubs.
In 1982, Kirby met Ukrainian-born Dmitry Brill ("Supa DJ Dmitry") to whom she sold silver platform boots and a glitter blue spacesuit, for his band, Shazork. In 1986, she began experimenting with singing and writing music with Brill, forming the band Deee-Lite.
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. She continued to do go-go dancing at Bentleys and The Copacabana until the band signed a seven-album deal with Elektra Records.
Deee-Lite's sound was a mix of house music, techno and electronic dance music. Deee-Lite shot to stardom in 1990 with the release of their first album World Clique and the hit "Groove Is in the Heart". At the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards, Deee-Lite was nominated for several 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 style 1960s fashion. Her signature look was a zip-up catsuit, platform shoes and flipped hair-do.
In 1992, the band released their second album, Infinity Within, a politically charged work. Their third album Dewdrops in the Garden was released in 1994 and was composed of pseudo-rave instrumentals or witty, funky showcases for Lady Kier's rich vocals. Neither of the two follow-up albums matched the commercial success of the debut album. The second and third albums were hampered by difficulties with the label, which refused to promote, support touring, or fund contractual videos.
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.
Deee-lite disbanded in 1995 after Brill and Kirby's relationship fractured.
International DJ and songwriting solo careerEdit
In 1995, after quitting the band, Lady Miss Kier moved to London where she began touring as a disc jockey 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. Since going solo, she has featured and co-written with artists such as Full Cycle, George Clinton, Walter "Junie" Morrison, A Guy Called Gerald, Apollo Heights, and several P-Funk luminaries. Outside of the studio, she showcased her live performances with new material for various music, film, and art festivals, as well as headlining several Gay pride events worldwide. In 2012, she began performing a Deee-Lite tribute for various occasions, including the 2013 Paris Fashion Week for Kenzo as well as a tribute to New York City disc jockey Mark Kamins at Santos Party House.
As a disc jockey, she has spun internationally at thousands of clubs and major music festivals including Coachella Festival (2007), Berlin's Berghain (2010) and Sydney Mardi Gras (2012), as well as radio programs such as East Village Radio and Sirius XM.
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 "Bullet Proof". 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.
Kirby has received the following recognition in the fashion industry:
- In 1990, she was on the cover of Vogue.
- In 1991, when designer Emilio Pucci was given a lifetime achievement award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, she was asked to star in the tribute video.
- In 2010, Elle named her one of Music's 25 Most Influential Style Icons along with Grace Jones, Beyoncé, Debbie Harry, and MIA.
- In 2010, Glamour named Kier as one of the Top Influential Music Style Icons with Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Gwen Stefani.
- In 2012, Vogue quoted her experience with John Fluevog and the rise of "The Munster" platform shoe, which was made famous as a symbol of the 1990s house/club underground DJ scene. Fluevog Shoes credits her as the reason the shoe became popular. Vice 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".
- In 2012, Rookie published her status as a style icon.
- Shoe designer Jerome Rousseau named a shoe "Kier Iridescent Sandals" after her.
- In 2013, W cited Lady Miss Kier along with Chloë Sevigny and Twiggy as current fashion influences.
- In 2013, Ladygunn magazine featured a full spread on Kier in its Legends issue.
- In 2013, she was asked by Kenzo to be the performer for its Paris Fashion Week party.
- From 2007 to 2012, Thierry Mugler used her song for its website campaign.
- In 2015, she was an inspiration for designer Jeremy Scott's Fall 2016 line, which debuted at New York Fashion Week.
- In 2015, Essie Weingarten's nail polish brand released a pink polish inspired by her, called "Groove Is in the Heart".
- 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 the branding of the debut of its Fall 2016 line.
- In 2016, an article in Vogue referred to Kier as a "Club Kid Icon," detailing how world class designers know her as a "legend and a lady," and highlighting how designers such as Thierry Mugler have borrowed from her look.
Movies and booksEdit
Her music has been used in a multitude of films, including The Heat (2013), House of Versace (2013), Crazy Sexy Cool: The TLC Story (2013), Charlie's Angels (2000), Wigstock (1995), Party Girl (1995), Dumb and Dumber (1994), 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.
In 2018, the Netflix series Big Mouth released a Planned Parenthood and Deee-lite themed episode—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. In 2001 she was included in Summer Love: The Rave-umentary. 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, Creative Time: The Book: 33 Years of Public Art in New York by Anne Pasternak, Creative License: The Law and Culture of Digital Sampling by Kembrew McLeod and Peter DiCola and All Music Guide to Electronica: The Definitive Guide to Electronic Music by Vladimir Bogdanov.
Panels and appearancesEdit
Lady Miss Kier has spoken at Princeton University's "Youth Music and Youth Culture", 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 and New York University's "NYU Panel Nelson Sullivan: Vlogging in the 80s" in 2013. In 2013 she was featured in an exhibit entitled "NYC 1993", which was presented through New York City's New Museum. 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."
Space Channel 5 and lawsuitEdit
In 2003, Kirby sued video game company Sega, claiming that the character of "Ulala" in its Dreamcast game Space Channel 5 was an unauthorized use of her likeness. 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. During the lawsuit, Sega was able to show that the game was released in Japan the year before Kier stated that she was contacted by Sega about using her likeness, and that the developers had never heard of either Kier or her music. The case lasted until 2006, when the judge ruled in favour of Sega and Kier lost her appeal. She was obliged to pay Sega's legal fees of $608,000 (reduced from $763,000 on request).
Political views and activismEdit
Lady Kier is a social, environmental, and human rights activist.
She is staunchly pro-abortion rights and is a women's rights advocate, was featured in TV informercial promoting pro-abortion rights political action "The Most Exciting Women in Music" alongside Corina, Juliet Cuming, Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth), MC Lyte, Kate Pierson (The B-52's), Crystal Waters, Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club) in 1991.
She is a supporter of the environmental movement. The 1992 Deee-Lite album "Infinity Within" was the first CD released using eco-pak packaging, cutting the amount of plastic used by half. On that album, she called attention to the issue of ozone depletion with her song "I Had a Dream I Was Falling Through a Hole in the Ozone Layer". Vogue Magazine has highlighted her "interest in supporting environmental causes".
She supports the anti-war movement and in 2010, she released a version of the P-Funk track "Bullet Proof" 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.
She supports the get out the vote movement. Her music video for the song "Vote Baby Vote", which she wrote "to get people interested in voting so they could vote George Bush out", was featured for MTV's "Rock The Vote" in 1992 and was highlighted by Rolling Stone as one of the top "ten major moments in rock the vote history".
During the 2016 United States presidential election, she voted for Green Party candidate Jill Stein but was an outspoken and enthusiastic supporter of Bernie Sanders. She hosted an art exhibit at Hole Gallery in New York City and a fundraiser called "Bernin' Up NYC" to rally Bernie Sanders supporters.
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