‘Quicksand’ Kerry JK wrote his first song aged 5 – it was called “Every Time I Die I Get Buried”. To his deep gratitude his parents sent for a piano teacher instead of a child psychologist and he’s been intriguing and alienating audiences ever since, under an assortment of solo guises and as a member of bands you might but probably won’t have heard of. At one point he was the world’s only performing drag escapologist.
Proudly gender and genre fluid, Kerry’s style of misfit art pop incorporates jazz, funk, rock, layered choral vocals and anything else that fits his muse at the time. He sums up his writing with the mission statement, “Be yourself, as yourself. There is no greater fulfilment and no sweeter revenge”.
Born in the Lake District and growing up on the Isle of Wight, Kerry spent his formative years playing and singing everywhere he could, in school and county groups, in hotels and restaurants and as a member of any band that would have him. A county music award enabled him to travel to London to take jazz piano lessons with Nick Weldon, before he moved to Leeds in 1995 to enroll in the BA Jazz Studies course at the City of Leeds College of Music. There he formed and ran the Great Escape Big Band, an anarchic jazz orchestra featuring many players who went on to international careers. He self-produced the solo acoustic albums Playing With No Friends and Proud To Be A Failed Waiter, was a regular house band member at the Duck and Drake Jazz Sessions and toured and recorded with James O’Hara’s blues band The Detonators, before a bout of tendonitis left him unable to perform, leaving him to focus for a while on singing, studio music and music technology.
Turning to darker and more electronic music under the name Miles From Anywhere, he released the album Ending through Peoplesound in 1999, followed up by the Submission EP in connection with a festival performance. He settled on the name Quicksand Kerry for the electro-punk album Sick Parody of Normality in 2001 while touring and recording with Electric James & The Ladykillers. He also set up and recorded a collaboration with leftfield poet Mik Artistik (in his pre-Ego Trip days) and developed his first femme performance persona as gothic chanteusse Felicia Devile, resulting in the mini album Witching Hour.
In 2003 he joined gothic industrial band Zeitgeist Zero, going on to record two acclaimed albums, the eponymous Zeitgeist Zero and the Jon Fryer-produced Dead To The World. The band toured extensively around Europe, including an appearance at the Wave Gotik Treffen festival in Leipzig. Kerry also developed a sideline as a juggler, magician and escape artist, most successfully as the singing drag escapologist Helen Held (The Girl No Man Can Hold), under which persona he was a regular performer at Manchester’s The Cabaret of Ida Bucket and was a part of the World Escape Artist Relay event in 2007.
In 2009 he moved to Northampton to be with his now wife, stepping away from touring in order to move full time into the classroom as a teacher. He gained qualified teacher status and taught at a number of schools while producing studio releases in order to keep his musical skills up, under his own name and as industrial metal project Player Versus X?. In 2015 he rebooted as Kerry JK with the album Songs From The Age of Human Error, followed up with the 3-track single I Am, which was released to coincide with Trans Visibility Day, and Sunlight In The Heart Of The Machine, both of which developed into his 2018 album Human:Beautiful. Side projects at this time included the acapella vocal looping project Unangelic Voices and the experimental trans jazz vocal persona Jenni Bluish, which led to 2016’s No Fury EP and collaboration with the National Theatre of Scotland’s Adam World’s Choir, culminating in his curating and producing the trans and non-binary compilation album Songs Of A New Gender Nation, released in 2017. Kerry also spoke and performed by video link at NTS’s Beyond the Binary symposium.
In 2018 Kerry released and promoted the album Human:Beautiful, the climatic track for which was played by Tom Robinson on BBC 6 Music and described by him as “an anthem for trans and non-binary people everywhere”. Kerry went on to join the moderating team on Tom’s site Fresh On The Net and released the single Animals In The Zoo under the electronic side project Ga’louche, which also gained airplay on BBC 6 Music. On the 2nd August he made his return to the live stage with a successful performance at London’s Ivy House.
Kerry now divides his time between his own musical projects, MABNO blog, Fresh On The Net and lecturing on contemporary music and musicianship at the Echo Factory in Leicester.