Kirk Hellie Bio
When Kirk Hellie was 9 years old he stuck his first Radio Shack microphone
out into the San Fernando Valley to record the noise of the night.
That thick valley air was rich, its stickiness serving not only as
the climatic haven for the many rock star teased-’dos that
sought refuge there; but also as Hellie’s earliest noise master.
With his scratchy Sears’s brand cassette recorder, and boxes
of Scotch C-90s, Hellie began to record. These ambient noise collages
were the early markers of Hellie’s growing fascination. This
noise had hooked Hellie’s tiny soul into the addiction of vibration.
At this point Hellie had strong indicators of his future musical success:
he rarely ventured out of his boyhood dark room – except at
night as a strolling minstrel – his nutrition was deplorable,
and he had entered that sado-masochistic abyss commonly known as
Catholic school. He was a natural. He was also becoming a bit of
an inventor. Hellie had begun to ‘prepare’ the strings
of his standard guitars to extract percussion notes, instead of chords.
He had also stumbled across the contact microphone. In a frenzy over
this new toy, Hellie had begun to create notes from everyday life.
This music, pulled from the mic’ing of apple crunches, his
small wind-up toys, the underneath of the chairs around the dining
table, and the household plumbing became his earliest compositions.
This rich experimental stage was followed by that rite of adolescent
self-indulgent cool, and his first taste of L.A. rock fame: the garage
band. For most, the fondest stop in any lifetime. For Hellie, a profound
bond of leather and music was born, along with the realization that
distinct madness always finds a home.
With the waning of his hormonal musical connection, Hellie got serious.
He went to college to study classical guitar, sitar, tabla and orchestration
(classical) and arranging (jazz). By that proverbial stroke of luck
that sneaks up on the driven, he found himself in the classroom of
famed 20th century composer, and visiting Professor Aurelio De la
Vega. Under De la Vega’s guidance, Hellie was introduced to
the world of the Avant Garde composer. Heavily influenced by the
classically trained journeymen of this movement, Hellie began to
study and collect their scores, books and recordings. These works,
such as; the I-Ching-method compositions of John Cage,
the electronic soundbursts of Karlheinz Stockhausen,
and the homemade instrument legacy of Harry Partch,
would become the formal basis for Hellie’s future work.
Now it was time to leap. Loudly, Hellie and his guitar landed on stage
with former Sex Pistol, Steve Jones. Playing guitar
for The Steve Jones Band, Hellie hit the road on
several tours, with Iggy Pop, the Cramps and Hunter/Ronson.
While this was good, ripe experience, it was not quite the musical thumbprint
he was headed towards. In fact, this hard time on the road only pushed
Hellie deeper into the refuge of his purer boyhood experiments in
vibration and sound. While still with Steve Jones, Hellie started
composing in the art underground. He had created various experimental
groups known differently as Hellie Siblings and Death
These groups furthered Hellie’s instrumental improvisations and
led to the 1994 forming, and subsequent signing by Interscope Records,
of his venture, Pink Noise Test (PNT).
PNT emerged as a sort of noisy homage
to the Beach Boys. In a return to
his scratchy Sears cassette recorder days, Hellie
went to work on the band’s first independent
releases. On PNT’s 1997 “Plasticized,” Hellie
fed homemade cassette loops through Fender Twins,
and turned an empty 50 gallon oil container into
a percussion masterpiece. During shows, he began
to create spontaneous, "on the fly" guitar
loops, creating live variations of songs. This improvisational
songsmithing has since become a mainstay for Hellie.
PNT’s commercial success and
loyal following proved to him that there was room
in the music world for his brand of exhaustive creativity
and loud noise.
Today Hellie remains moored to the vast and strange musical world he
has created. Disembarking from PNT’s pop song
structures, he founded his musical alter ego, disKoNeKt the
Hi-Fi. Touring internationally, disKoNeKt the Hi-Fi’s
ever changing line-up is an attempt to work in improvised or semi-composed
soundscapes. Much closer to the pioneering free-music ensembles of
the ’60s, Hellie has expanded on these early ideas, and added
his electronic mutations of guitars and strange toys.
Squeezing the most out of his current good mood, Hellie has also entered
the world of “Power Electronics”. His related project, Caveat
Emptor, is a joint collaboration with Edward J. Nervo (Home
Audience). Working from the extremes of the aural spectrum, Hellie
and Nervo have scoured the swap meets of the aerospace industry to
pull together a futuristic arsenal of military test equipment, pulse
generators, and other NASA-inspired instruments. The resulting compositions
of Caveat Emptor are the modernistic conclusions
of Hellie’s earliest noise compositions.
The beginning of the new millennium had brought even more and varied
projects into the picture. Several string/orch. arrangements for
various albums interspread with a long stint in London, England working
with Nothing Records artists 12 Rounds. While living/working
there Kirk played most of the guitars, bass, noise, radios, slinkys,
along with some keyboards, etc. Unfortunately, with the demise of
Nothing Records, the album may never see the light of day.
in the USA, Hellie collaborated in the now defunct
caustic, art-punk band Tape. And returned
to his obsession with the "pop song" with Meow
Meow whose debut album “snow gas bones”(2004)
garnered much critical aclaim, Meow Meow are
now finishing up album #2 with the usual ridiculous
amount of songs to choose from. You can still always
hear Kirk “ghosting” on several other artists
records contributing guitars, bass, keys and various
It is his natural impression of a world where, in sound, all things begin
and end. It’s that same boyhood dream to transform all of our
noise into music.