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With the massive popularity of their hit single "Groove Is in the Heart," Deee-Lite brought the colorful sights and sounds of New York's club culture into the mainstream. Formed in 1986, the trio was led by vocalist Lady Miss Kier (born Kieren Kirby in Youngstown, Ohio) and fleshed out by a pair of DJs, Super DJ Dmitry (a classically trained guitarist and Russian emigre born Dmitry Brill) and Jungle DJ Towa Towa (born Doug Wa-Chung in Tokyo, Japan).
Fusing house, techno, rap, ambient, and funk music with an outrageous visual flair largely influenced by the drag queen community (Kier's fondness for Fluevog platform shoes helped the '70s fashion revival gather steam), Deee-Lite became hugely popular among New York club denizens, and the trio's own unique cultural make-up earned them a following which ignored racial and sexual boundaries. In 1990, they debuted with the album World Clique, a crossover smash thanks to hits like the loping classic "Groove Is in the Heart" (featuring the fluid bass of Bootsy Collins and the saxophone of Maceo Parker) and "Power of Love."
With their 1992 follow-up, Infinity Within, Deee-Lite's music turned overtly political as songs touched base with hot topics like the environment, safe sex, and democracy. Towa Towa left the group soon after; rechristened Towa Tei, he released his solo debut, Future Listening, in 1995. Kier and Dmitry, meanwhile, enlisted DJ Ani for 1994's Dewdrops in the Garden, a sensual outing influenced by the growing rave culture. After the release of 1996's remix album Sampladelic Relics and Dancefloor Oddities, Deee-Lite disbanded. The group's members pursued separate careers as DJs; Dmitry relocated to Berlin, where he also worked as a producer, while Tei continued his solo career and also played in Metafive, a supergroup featuring Cornelius' Keigo Oyamada and members of Yellow Magic Orchestra and Denki Groove. In 2017, Cherry Red reissued World Clique in a deluxe set that featured a generous amount of remixes and an interview with Kier. ~ Jason Ankeny
- New York, NY
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