Kirk Degiorgio was born in Stepney, East London in the late 60’s.
Raised in a family who loved a wide range of music - and one which could claim a hugely famous pop-star cousin in Marc Bolan of T-Rex - Kirk got early exposure to music from artists such as Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell, David Bowie, Sly Stone, Roxy Music, etc. His mother Janet Feld was a young ‘mod’ who devoutly followed The Kinks, The Who, etc around the venues of London.
The family moved out to Suffolk when he was 4 years old.
In 1979 his aunt - only 6 years his senior - gave him her collection of soul and funk 7“‘s. His aunt was another clubbing member of the Feld family and would regularly attend The Lacey Lady and The Royalty to hear DJ’s Chris Hill and Robbie Vincent.
At age 11, Kirk was far too young to go to clubs to hear the type of records he had acquired from his aunt so he tuned in to various black music radio shows and taped everything he could between ‘79 and ‘82.
Kirk’s weekends revolved around the various radio shows he could pick up from his house in Ipswich: starting with the Radio Luxembourg Disco Top 20 show on Friday nights hosted by Tony Prince, then continuing early on Saturday morning with Robbie Vincent’s Radio London show and ending with Tony ‘Shades’ Valance’s 4 hour ‘Soul Session’ on local Radio Orwell. Often he would ask his Aunt in London to tape him Greg Edwards Capitol Radio Show also on Saturday evenings. Towards the mid-80’s many of these shows were no longer on air - but fortunately the more specialised early soul pirate stations Horizon, Invicta, JFM, Solar, etc were just about in range from Ipswich.
One of the biggest influences on Kirk from this period were the mixes of Essex based DJ Froggy. These were a feature of Robbie Vincent’s show and were the first UK examples of the kind of mixing being made famous in New York by Larry Levan, Shep Pettibone, etc. Kirk also swapped tapes with local US airforce personnel stationed at nearby Bentwaters airbase who had recordings of megamixes from NY’s Kiss FM and other US black music stations.
electro boogie encounter
Kirk’s clubbing days started at an under-18’s night held at local Ipswich club ‘Rumours’ from 1982-1983. The music was surprisingly upfront and came at a time when Kirk’s head was turned by hearing Afrika Bambaataa’s ‘Planet Rock’. The club became a key place for local teenagers eager to hear early electro mixed with NY disco-boogie. Grandmaster Flash’s ‘Adventures On the Wheels of Steel’ and Double Dee & Steinski’s cut-up record ‘Lesson One’ were very influential on Kirk and he began experimenting with ‘pause button mixes’ using a double tape deck with overdubbing capabilities and one turntable which he would vari-speed by applying pressure on the platter with his finger.
Kirk would travel down to London on Sundays with a group of mates - two of whom were professional footballers earning enough to buy all the latest electro releases from Groove Records in Soho. One of the footballers bought a pair of Technics 1200’s and a mixer and - housed in his parents front room - used to allow Kirk and others to practise mixing. The whole setup would sometimes be taken to the local Caribean Community Centre where Kirk would share the DJing duties whilst local breakdance crews battled. It was at these events that Kirk met Andy Turner and Ed Handley - part of a local breakdance crew from Stowmarket. The pair would later become part of The Black Dog and ultimately Warp outfit Plaid.
As Kirk got older and more confident of getting into clubs he often visited Zero 6 in Southend, The Goldmine in Canvey, Tartan House - Colchester and Flicks in Dartford. It was at Flicks that Kirk first heard House music in 1986 but it was at an alldayer at Nottingham’s Rock City that same year where Kirk heard House music played for hours continuously for the first time. Soon however, the fashion-dominated clubs of Central London like The Wag became the focal point of Kirk’s clubbing.
Kirk and a few mates finally got around to hosting their own club night in 1986. The night was simply called ‘Sweat’. Inspired by the music and fashion of the London clubs such as The Opera House, Mudd Club, and Delirium the night was a huge hit attracting 700 people which was previously thought impossible in Ipswich. The event also made the local TV news after a huge riot erupted outside afterwards with police not being able to cope with the large crowds spilling out.
Despite the ‘notoriety’ there were two more Sweat events - each with Kirk and DJ partner Floyd playing an eclectic mix of hip-hop, rare groove and early house.
In 1986 Kirk moved to Richmond, West London to study History. However a strange coincidence landed him a much sought-after job at Reckless Records in Soho after Kirk recognised the manager from one of his Sweat events. Patrick Forge was indeed from Ipswich and had also moved to London to study but found himself managing Reckless and he was also a DJ on London pirate Kiss FM.
In the mid-80’s Reckless Records was a meeting point for the rare groove scene in London. The store would send staff to the US to bring back crates of rare soul & jazz which London DJ’s couldn’t get enough of. It was a vibrant meeting place for DJ’s such as Norman Jay, Roy the Roach, Ashley Beedle, Judge Jules, Joe Davis, Frankie Foncett, etc and provided Kirk with invaluable further musical education.
Richmond was the location of The Belvedere Arms which every Sunday night would attract a cult following listening to the latest latin, rare groove and jazz played by DJ’s Gilles Peterson, Kevin Beadle and Joe Davis. Kirk became a regular from 87-88 when it was basically an after-party for the Sunday afternoon sessions at Dingwalls. For a time it also attracted a small ‘balearic’ crowd who first invited Kirk down to The Shoom Club. This was the full-on house music experience that saw Kirk become a regular and at The Trip, Spectrum and numerous outdoor raves and warehouse parties between 1988 and 1990. From 1990 East London’s Dungeon’s venue become Kirk’s venue of choice listening to DJ’s such as Randall, Ellis D, Matthew B, Seduction, Mr C and others.
Back in Ipswich for the summer of 1989 Kirk gave one of his ‘pause button’ mixes to a local Colchester DJ who got him a warm-up slot at The Braintree Barn - Kirk’s first important DJ gig outside his home town.
By 1990 Kirk was a firm Detroit techno fan and would eagerly await new releases from a trio of Detroit producers: Derrick May, Juan Atkins (who he knew from electro days as Cybotron) and Kevin Saunderson. It was at an Inner City gig in Kentish Town, 1990 that Kirk first met Derrick May who was support DJ. When Kirk mentioned he was due to fly to Chicago on a record buying trip for Reckless, Derrick gave him his address and told him to make the drive to Detroit. Just before leaving for the US, Ed Handley and Andy Turner visited Kirk and invited him to ‘share some ideas’ at the new London studio they shared with Ken Downie under the collective The Black Dog. They made some demos together which Kirk took to the US.
After stocking up on rare soul, jazz, funk and house in Chicago - Kirk and a few friends drove to Detroit. Derrick was still in the UK but they were welcomed by Shake, Juan Atkins, Martin Bonds and a British guy Matt Cogger who was running Transmat in Derrick’s absence. Inspired by the affordable studio setups he saw at Transmat, Metroplex and KMS Kirk sold his entire record collection upon his return and invested in an Atari, Akai S950 sampler, a broken TB303 and a Roland R8 drum machine. Matt Cogger also returned and loaned Kirk some of his studio gear - including a Kawai K3 and the infamous DX100 which actually belonged to Derrick.
demo dat pressure
One of Kirk’s early demos was played by Colin Favor on his Kiss FM show and was soon licensed by Michael Golding and Steve Rutter - two techno collectors and producers who had recently started B12 Records. The EP featured 4 tracks from Kirk under the names Future/Past and As One and a track from Matt Cogger and Insync.
Encouraged, Kirk sent his next batch of demos along with some solo tracks by Ed & Andy of The Black Dog to UR in Detroit - who in turn passed them on to Carl Craig. Carl called Kirk and secured 3 tracks for the second release on his newly formed Planet E label. Confident enough now to start his own label Kirk, Ed & Andy revisited the material and added two new originals to form the first release on Kirk’s ART label ‘Applied Rhythmic Technology’. These tracks were quickly licensed by R&S - the largest techno label in Europe at the time.
applied rhythmic technology
Still working part-time in Reckless, Kirk regularly sold rare house and techno to a wide range of collectors. One of these - Grant Wilson-Claridge - gave Kirk some white labels by Richard James/Aphex Twin which impressed Kirk so much that he suggested a collaboration between ART and Grant’s label Rephlex. This resulted in ‘The Philosophy of Sound & Machine’ compilation which personified the early UK electronica scene at that time. Featuring tracks by The Black Dog, B12, Matt Cogger, Kirk and Richard James the release is now a sought-after classic. Two spin-off ART vinyl releases also saw cult status featuring further tracks from Kirk, B12 and Balil (Ed Handley).
ART 3 saw the first major release in the UK from Carl Craig - who along with UR was fast becoming THE Detroit producer to watch. The 4 track EP featured the peak of ‘ambient techno’ - the original version of ‘Neurotic Behaviour’ and secured ART’s status as a boutique label of few releases but exceptional quality.
Due to an increased DJing workload Kirk left Reckless in 1994 and also signed to Beechwood Music subsidiary ‘New Electronica’ for two albums. This resulted in the As One LP’s ‘Reflections’ in 1994 and ‘Celestial Soul’ in 1995. Due to the demands of these recordings ART released only a handful of new releases by Kirk and B12 before ending at release 7.2.
1995 saw Kirk located briefly back in Ipswich prior to settling back in Richmond for the next 6 years. During this brief return to Suffolk he recorded the album ‘The Art of Prophecy’ for the short-lived French label Shield and on the strength of the track ‘Hyperspace’ signed his Future/Past moniker to R&S. Meanwhile, Ipswich had become a mecca for drum n bass and Kirk quickly became attracted to the releases of one producer in particular: Photek. Through mutual friends they quickly met and started collaborating. 3 tracks were in progress but were never completed due to Photek signing to major label Virgin and Kirk signing to hip underground label Clear.
Inspired by the collaborations and the drum programming techniques of drum n bass Kirk introduced a more jazz influenced element to his techno blueprint and his album ‘In With Their Arps & Moogs & Jazz & Things’ on Clear caught the ear of James Lavelle who asked Kirk for a track for the ‘Headz 2’ compilation on his Mo Wax label. Kirk also relaunched the ART label but renamed it Op-Art - after his love of Vasarely and optical art - and the releases by Photek, Autocreation, 4th World (Steve Paton), Paul W. Teebrooke (Stasis) and Sensurreal (Gerd) reflected a more diverse musical direction incorporating drum n bass, techno ,breaks, ambient and trip hop. Again due to increased workload this label ceased after 2 years.
With no progress being made with his R&S project, Kirk signed his As One pseudonym to Mo Wax on the strength of two extraordinary demos he played to James Lavelle. ‘Soul Soul Soul’ and ‘The Path of Most Resistance’ merged modal jazz with hard funk breaks, techno basslines and drum n bass programming techniques. With a decent recording budget for the first time in his career Kirk hired in session musicians and invested in rare analog synthesisers. Carl Craig and Ian O’Brien also guested on the album which was titled ‘Planetary Folklore’ and sold over 20,000 copies to become Kirk’s best selling release to date.
Further success followed when Planetary Folklore attracted advertising companies and with post production engineer Rohan Young, Kirk composed music for two worldwide Adidas TV ad campaigns, and two more for Fanta and others. In 1999 Kirk also produced the indie outfit Brothers In Sound for Parlophone subsidiary Regal. Kirk’s DJing was now taking him worldwide and saw him controversially introducing rare funk, disco and jazz amongst the latest techno. In 1997 he got a residency at Mo Wax’s night ‘Dusted’, followed by a residency in the various alternative rooms at the ‘Lost/Burundi’ events up to 2001.
r: solution, baby
Between 1997 and 2002 Kirk released the acclaimed mix albums Check One and Synthesis for the X:Treme label - showcasing Kirk’s love of early electronic jazz alongside the latest techno - and he also put together three ‘Soul of Science’ compilation albums with Ian O’Brien for the Obsessive label with the same philosophy. Between 1998 and 2001 Kirk was part of the R-Solution Radio show alongside Dego, Marc Mac & Phil Asher. Broadcasting weekly on London’s Kiss FM the show quickly developed a loyal following and became an important outlet for the growing broken beat scene.
As Mo Wax became lost amid several corporate mergers As One was signed by Ross Allen as part of the Universal subsidiary Island Blue alongside artists such as Peshay, Tom Middleton, Mark Pritchard, The Underwolves & Spacek. The sub-label dissolved before any releases were possible however and Kirk signed to San Francisco based label Ubiquity resulting in the As One albums ’21st Century Soul’ and ‘Out of the Darkness’. Ubiquity were attracted to Kirk after a series of quality remixes for 4 Hero, Carl Craig, Common Factor, Papo Vasquez, Beanfield, Tony Allen, Ptaah, Azymuth, Coldcut and many others. In 2003 Ubiquity also released a deluxe anthology of classic, rare and previously unreleased As One material entitled ‘So Far’.
Far Out Recordings were also impressed by Kirk’s remixes for them and signed an off-shoot project called ‘Offworld’ which saw Kirk producing and re-working studio sessions by Brazilian fusion band Azymuth on the album ‘Two Worlds’. The album also featured Jamie ‘Jimpster’ Odell and vocalist Vanessa Freeman. Kirk also worked with Jimpster for the Exceptional Records ‘Sky EP’ series under the name Super-A-Loof - a pseudonym he uses specifically for collaborations with other artists.
all the way live
In 2005 Kirk signed to French label Versatile resulting in the acclaimed As One LP ‘Elegant Systems’. This saw a return to the traditional early 90’s techno sound of UK electronica but with a modern production. Under his own name he has also released 4 purist techno EP’s for EMI subsidiary ‘New Religion’. For the same label he has collaborated with Dan Keeling under the name ‘Critical Phase’ and together with Alex Bond has also co-ordinated the joint ART-New Religion compilation THE ELECTRIC INSTITUTE. On this compilation Kirk shocked purists with the techno breaks track ‘Whatever Happened To the Cosmic Kid’ which was co-written with Dan Keeling and Chris Martin of Coldplay.
Kirk is credited with being the first known professional DJ to use Ableton Live alongside vinyl for his DJ sets. A tour of Japan 2002 saw him use Live exclusively which he has now done ever since in venues worldwide. Kirk’s “FXMix01” CD in 2003 was the first Ableton mix album of its kind and paved the way for the current popularity of laptop DJing.
Kirk is currently co-writer and producer for the band The Beauty Room whose debut album was released Sept 4th 2006 on the Peacefrog label. He has also completed a follow-up to the acclaimed Mo Wax album Planetary Folklore. Planetary Folklore 2 revisits the drum programming and tech-jazz on the 10th anniversary of this groundbreaking release. Due October 2006 on the Archive label.