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The London Expat American Meetup Group Message Board › What ever happened to Deee Lite?

What ever happened to Deee Lite?

Wilber W.
Group Organizer
London, GB
Post #: 2,422
What ever happened to Deee~Lite?
Ohioan singer Kierin Kirby moved to London!­

They exploded out of New York's club scene with the psychedelic sights and sounds of the unstoppable pop anthem ‘Groove Is In The Heart'. We caught up with the band's iconic leader, Lady Miss Kier, to find out more about that catsuit...

That was then...

The roots of Deee-Lite were sown in the early ‘80s, when Ohioan singer Kierin Kirby and classically trained guitarist and Russian émigré Dmitry Brill met in NYC. The pair decided to make music, fusing their love of house, techno, rap and funk with a flamboyant visual flair, inspired by the drag queen community.

Rebranded in 1986 as Lady Miss Kier and Super DJ Dmitry, the duo hooked up with Japanese electronic whiz Dong-Hwa Chung aka DJ Towa Tei. The group quickly made a name for themselves, impressing Rolling Stone, who wrote of their growing popularity: "They were drawing vivid, multi-racial, pan-sexual crowds that were often a thousand strong", while another critic hailed them "the aspirin of dance music."

In August 1990, Deee-Lite released their debut single, 'Groove Is In The Heart' (Watch it here), featuring rapper Q-Tip and Parliament-Funkadelic legend Bootsy Collins. The track was an international smash, becoming one of the era's most celebrated songs. The accompanying album, ‘World Clique', made the top 20 in the US and UK, with subsequent releases ‘What Is Love?' and ‘Power Of Love' both minor hits.

The band embarked on a world tour but cracks quickly began to appear, which Kier tells us would ultimately destroy them. Two further albums, ‘Infinty Within' and ‘Dewdrops In The Garden', followed, but neither had the same impact as their debut and despite scoring number ones on the US Club chart with ‘Good Beat' , ‘Runaway', ‘Bring Me Your Love' and ‘Call Me', Deee-Lite split in 1995.

This is now...

Why did the band end? "After years of trying to get attention and then spending three years in a huge public spotlight, it felt liberating to walk away from it after all. I adore the craft of writing songs and expressing myself but the business side is filled with so many liars that I had to run away and leave them far behind to preserve my sanity," Kier explained to Yahoo! Music.

After the group imploded, she moved to London, learning to engineer and produce. "I started DJing on the side and am still doing all those things. I have recently decided to bestow some music on unsuspecting audiences by singing several unannounced and low-profile gigs worldwide trying out my new material while developing a show," she says, having now returned to New York.

However, Kier, who was ordered to pay Sega over $600,000 after unsuccessfully launching a lawsuit against them in 2003 for alleged similarities between her and a character in their ‘Space Channel 5' video game, insists the chances of a full Deee-Lite comeback are "absolutely none".

Although she and Dmitry still speak from time to time, she says they have no contact with Towa, who they fell out with acrimoniously during the last days of the group. "The band was destroyed by the same forces that created it - the quest for love, respect, truth and happiness," she explains, reflecting on their brief but brilliant moment on the pop frontline.

Lady Miss Kier" Hammered With Opponent's Attorney's Fees

Remember "Lady Miss Kier" (real name Kierin Kirby), lead singer of the band "Deee-Lite"? Deee-Lite had a big hit in 1990 with the video for their song Groove is in the Heart, which the California Court of Appeal today helpfully described as follows: "The song's music video, which received extensive airplay on MTV, features band members clad in 'funky retro outfits, vivid graphics, groovy dance moves, a futuristic setting and an overall party feel.'" Kierin Kirby v. Sega of America, Inc. (2nd Dist., Div. 8, Sep. 25, 2006) No. B183820 (unpublished).

In July 2000, a representative of Sega Japan contacted Kirby and told her that Sega "was considering using one of several music videos or songs, including Groove is in the Heart, to promote" a video game called "Space Channel 5" or "SC5" in England and possibly Europe. Kirby was not interested and declined to cut a deal or give Sega permission to use her songs, likeness, or anything else.

Subsequently, Kirby discovered that Sega had released the game and that it included a dancing female character named "Ulala" who Kirby felt resembled her Lady Miss Kier character in several respects. Among other "signature" characteristics, Lady Miss Kier was known for saying "ooh la la," as she does while introducing herself in the Groove is in the Heart video. Kirby thought Sega's use of "Ulala" was an obvious rip-off of her signature "ooh la la," and noted several other apparent similarities between Ulala and Lady Miss Kier.

Kirby filed this lawsuit against Sega in Los Angeles in April 2003, asserting several causes of action, including one for misappropriation of likeness under Cal. Civil Code section 3344.

Unfortunately for Kirby, Sega was able to show that the game SC5, including the Ulala character, had been created and released in Japan between 1997 and 1999 (years before Sega contacted Kirby), and that the Japanese creators of Ulala -- who created her name, look and dance moves -- had never even heard of Deee-Lite, Lady Miss Kier, or Groove is in the Heart at the time they created Ulala.

Worse for Kirby, under the First Amendment and the California Constitution's right of free expression, "[n]othwithstanding certain similarities, Ulala is more than a mere likeness or literal depiction of Kirby. Ulala contains sufficient expressive content to constitute a 'transformative work' under the test articulated by the [California] Supreme Court" in Winter v. DC Comics (2003) 30 Cal.4th 881 and Comedy III Productions, Inc. v. Gary Saderup, Inc. (2001) 25 Cal.4th 387. The trial court granted summary judgment to defendants.
Wilber W.
Group Organizer
London, GB
Post #: 2,423
Still worse for Kirby, Civil Code section 3344, under which she sued (in part), states that "The prevailing party in any action under this section shall be entitled to attorney's fees and costs." Cal. Civ. Code Sec. 3344(a). Defendants requested these "mandatory" fees in the amount of $763,000, which the trial court reduced to an award of approximately $608,000. The Court of Appeal affirmed. Recognizing that this is a harsh result, the Court noted that the Legislature had unambiguously made the fee provision mandatory. "Whether the course is sound is not for us to say. (Citation) This is the course the Legislature has chosen and, until that body changes course, we must enforce the rule. The fee award was proper."

And worst of all, the Court of Appeal determined that Civil Code section 3344(a) also entitles the prevailing party to attorney's fees and costs on appeal, and remanded the case to the trial court to determine the amount of additional fees and costs to be awarded against Kirby for appealling the decision.

I'll bet Ms. Kirby (and other celebrities) will think twice before suing for "misappropriation of likeness" in California again anytime soon.

Posted by John on September 25, 2006 6:16 PM

Wilber W.
Group Organizer
London, GB
Post #: 2,435
Are you registered to vote???
Deee-Lite - Vote Baby Vote! - MTV Rock The Vote 1992

Wilber W.
Group Organizer
London, GB
Post #: 5,372
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