We sat down with duo Kito & Reija Lee to talk collaborations, dreams and London living.
Hailing from Perth in Australia, and now residing in South London, Kito & Reija Lee are a musical duo with many achievements under their girl power belt.
Beginning their careers as solo artists, the girls saw success originally releasing music via Skream’s Disfigured Dubz, and Diplo’s Mad Decent, with whom they are still closely affiliated with today. The pair came from different musical backgrounds; however, they found a mutual love in electronic music, with Reija Lee bringing herself away from years of singing in rock and metal bands, and Kito adding a vocalist to a steadily rising solo career. As a pair, Kito and Reija Lee are unique, releasing music that speaks volumes in creative license; standing out from the crowd.
With influences ranging far and wide from Kate Bush, M83 and Drake to Ed Rush & Optical and J Dilla, the girl’s catalogue of sound is extensive. Using their varying backgrounds they have been creating phenomenal music that has taken the online world by storm.
When did you guys start to make music as a duo?
Kito: The first track we worked on together was LFO which was released on my debut EP on Skream’s label disfigured dubz in 2009. It was a very organic thing! We’d known each other since our early teens and I asked Reija to sing on one of my beats (she was playing bass and singing in bands at the time), which ended up being LFO. LFO was and still is one of my favourite tracks so I asked Reija if she wanted to do a full length EP together – which was our Sweet Talk EP that Diplo signed to his label Mad Decent.
You seem to have a diverse range of influences – who do you cite as your biggest inspiration when you’re writing and making music?
Reija Lee: Cyndi Lauper and Chrissie Amphlett have always been inspirational to me as frontwomen. They embody everything that I aspire to be as a performer. Lykke Li is also a huge inspiration for me lyrically – she’s amazing.
Kito: Kate Bush is my biggest inspiration. I love everything about her. I’ve also been quite inspired by a lot of rap producers in recent years. I’m crazy about T-Minus and his moody filtered synths. He produced Swimming Pools by Kendrick Lamar, I’m On One by DJ Khaled, HYFR by Drake etc.
Apart from your love of Electronic music, what other kinds of stuff can we expect to hear / find in your collection?
Kito: I do listen to a lot of Rap and R&B. And Dancehall! Also synth wave stuff like Com Truise.. And old favourites like Gary Numan and Laurie Anderson!
Reija Lee: Ahhhh where to start… My classics – Pink Floyd and other 70s/80s rock.. I also love post rock and dreamy synth music. Bands like M83, Mono, Sigur Ros. In the last few years I’ve definitely come to enjoy R&B more as well (Probably due to Kito’s influence!)
How did the collaboration with Zebra Katz occur? Who else do you have your sights set on to work with?
Kito: I met Zebra Katz at the Mad decent block party in Brooklyn a couple of years ago. We ended up hanging out while I was in NYC and became friends. When he came to London he was looking for beats for his mixtape so I played him some things. I ended up roping him into the studio with Reija and we smashed out WORD$! I like working with people I click with and love when it’s a natural thing that you end up in the studio together. Having said that, I’d be really excited to work with some amazing song writers – like The Dream! His manager actually got in touch with us last year as apparently he was keen to work with us but it never eventuated to anything. I’m holding onto hope that this will happen one day!
What’s the dream? Where do you want to see your career sit in 12 months time?
Reija Lee: I think we both feel the same on this subject – we just want to make great music and tour! As long as we can continue making a living doing what we love – we’re happy.
Tell us more about the new EP ‘II’? We’re loving the Etched Remix of ‘Starting Line’, so what else can we expect from you?
Reija Lee: We’re really excited about the EP and so happy to have it out. We’ll also be releasing a ‘II’ remix package in August, and some more free giveaways as well.
Who have you been working with on the tracks?
Kito: We’re very DIY. All the tracks are produced and mixed by me and all vocals are written and sung by Reija. Turn Into You was a track that I started producing with Two Inch Punch and then ended up getting Reija on it and finishing it off. Two Inch Punch is an amazing musician – so glad to have worked with him.
You seem pretty style-savvy. What designers / brands do you love to wear?
Kito: We honestly get stuff from all over the place – thrift stores, t shirts from record labels and friends, random stores in different cities while traveling. And when we do shoots, our stylist gets us amazing designer clothes that we can play dress-ups in and then cry when we have to give them back!
How are you finding living in London?
Reija Lee: We love London! It’s such a buzzing city with such a unique dance music culture and we feel lucky to be a part of it.
How does it compare to your hometown and how has London inspired you as a cityscape?
Reija Lee: I think London is inspiring because you’re surrounded by a lot of other great artists and creative people. There are really creative hubs within London and it opens up so many doors to new opportunities and chances to work with great people. It’s also really pretty sometimes, if you know where to look!
Give us your top 3 tracks of the moment?
Nadus – Sharpe James
Schlachthofbronx – Lights Off feat. Nicky Da B
Banks – Drowning (Lido Remix)
Words: Shane Hawkins.