Deee-Lite


In the nineties pop world Deee-Lite was just a flash in the pan. They had a hit single with “Groove is in the Heart” and a couple follow ups that fell short of their initial success. To an outsider Deee-Lite was short lived when in reality they lasted for six years and went on to release two additional albums after their first hit both of similar integrity. Fortunately for us record sales and popularity are often not an indication of a band’s consistency or quality because Dee Lite was indeed a special group.

Deee-Lite was founded in New York City in 1990 by three people, Towa Tei, DJ Dmitri and Lady Miss Kier. One unique thing I notice right away about Deee-Lite’s line up is that it contains three DJ’s. Since their break-up both Towa Tei and Dmitri have become accomplished DJ’s on their own after cutting their teeth with Deee-Lite. Towa Tei particularly has went on to a flourishing solo career. He is perhaps one of the more successful DJ’s of the Japanese style to make an impression in the west. DJ Dmitri now lives in Germany and is very active in the club scene there. While Lady Miss Kier, a DJ as well, after traveling is back in NYC and rumored to be working on her first solo album. You don’t hear of too many acts with three DJ’s and perhaps those extra minds are what gave Deee-Lite songs that extra level of production or layer of complexity that made them stand apart.

I suppose Deee-Lite was classified as house music but it doesn’t really stop there. There are techo elements, pop’ish vocals even hip hop makes an appearance. They were entrenched in sixties pop-psychedelic imagery. Not like the dirty hippies popping shrooms, but like the urban rich kids dressing all crazy and popping shrooms. Not that they ever really mention shrooms but it’s kind of implied. Lady Miss Kier’s voice fit the bill perfectly and she sings on most tracks. Of their three albums I would suggest listening to them in 1-3-2 order. They are all great but I like the first and third a little more then the second. I should note that Towa Tei left the group prior to the recording of the third album. They brought in an outsider, DJ On-E, but honestly it’s hard to tell that Towa Tei is missing, I think his influence had already infected the group to a degree where you can still hear him even though he wasn’t there.

I should also note that five years after their breakup an album was released of remixes and B sides. It’s called “Sampladelic Relics & Dancefloor Oddities”. That album is great too, I’d suggest it to anyone that’s a fan.

1) World Clique [1990]
2) Infinity Within [1992]
3) Dewdrops in the Garden [1994]
4) Sampladelic Relics & Dancefloor Oddities [1996]

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