The trio of Lady Miss Kier, Supa DJ Dmitry and jungle DJ Towa Tei, otherwise known as Deee-Lite, started out as the duo of Lady Miss Kier on vocals and Dmitry as the DJ in 1986. Kier and Dmitry would perform their songs monthly in various downtown New York area nightclubs from hip-hop and house to straight and gay venues while drawing a diverse following.
The band’s appeal was its inclusiveness, individuality, fusion of danceable techno/funk sounds, and their ability to make a concert seem like a party that could be attended by everyone. Those early shows garnered a devoted following and attracted the attention of burgeoning Japanese producer Towa Tei as a fan.
Shortly thereafter, Towa sent Kier and Dmitry a mixtape he had made and upon listening, the duo realized that he was of the same musical tribe, enjoying their brand of smart and hippie fusion of funk and techno. They invited him to become part of the group in 1988, and Towa and Dmitry began jointly programming and working on what would become the band’s debut album.
Click on the player above to hear “5 on 5: Deee-Lite” and explore the group’s inclusive techno/funk sound with these five essential tracks:
TRACK: “Groove is in the Heart” – Deee-Lite [World Clique]
Deee-Lite released their debut album, “World Clique,” in 1990. It instantly shot to the top of the dance charts, powered by the lead-off single “Groove Is in the Heart,” which became their first No. 1 hit. The song featured vocals from Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest and additional vocals by funk musician Bootsy Collins — and of course that famous bass guitar loop, sampled from the Herbie Hancock song “Bring Down The Birds.”
TRACK: “Who Was That” – Deee-Lite [World Clique]
Also on “World Clique,” Deee-Lite released “Who Was That.” The album was not only an infectious dance floor delight, but also a reflection on topics of global peace, joy and unity.
TRACK: “Electric Shock” – Deee-Lite [Infinity Within]
Deee-Lite’s next album “Infinity Within” delved deeper into their social and political activist roots as it took on overtly political tones with outspoken songs.
TRACK: “Stay in Bed, Forget the Rest” – Deee-Lite [Dewdrops in the Garden]
From Deee-Lite’s album, “Dewdrops in the Garden,” the group released “Stay in Bed, Forget the Rest.” The funk and soul undercurrents of these pop-techno tracks were the harbinger of new dance music trends in the ’90s, which included soulful singers over deep basslines and silky horn tracks, preceding artists like Jay Denes and the Naked Music roster of acts.
TRACK: “Picnic in the Summertime” – Deee-Lite [Dewdrops in the Garden]
Also from “Dewdrops in the Garden,” Deee-Lite released “Picnic in the Summertime” with its sunny, ebullient vibe.