Wonderland.

NEW NOISE: KITO

The self-taught music producer and DJ talks new music and her love for SZA.

KITO

Photo credit – Lindsay Ellary

KITO
Photo credit – Lindsay Ellary

You may remember Kito’s official remix of Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls)” and now she’s dropped a new single “Recap” we can dance to again.

Australia-born self-taught music producer, DJ and songwriter, Kito aka Maake, is now based in Los Angeles by way of London. Making music since a teen, she dropped out of fashion school to work at a record store and eventually got hired to DJ around Oz and Europe playing clubs and getting into Dubstep. After sending songs to Diplo via social media, he actually listened, replied and signed her demo to his label. Soon after she created the official remake of Bey’s “Run the World.” Several songs of her own have reached #1 on dance charts and artists like Big Boi, T.I. and Ludacris have sampled her music.

Recently she collaborated with VanJess, Noah Breakfast and Channel Tres to make “Recap” in an Airstream formerly owned by Bob Dylan, in a place she calls paradise – otherwise known as Rick Rubin’s Shangri-La in Malibu. Thankfully they give us a silky fun electro-R&B-pop song we can dance to at home until we can get back on the dance floors at clubs and into the fields at festivals. We discuss songs, TV, career advice, new artists to hear, a mutual love of SZA, mediation, and more.

Check out the interview below…

How have you been spending your time during the pandemic? What have you learned that has been surprisingly helpful in these times?
Making music, reading, watching Love Island, organizing my samples, cooking a lot of food, eating a lot of food, hiking, napping! I’ve learned to listen to my body more – I think slowing down has been really good for me.

When you are not creating music, what is your favourite way to spend your time? How do you practice balance?
I try to get outdoors as much as possible to balance out the countless hours I spend inside making music. I love walking around my neighbourhood listening to podcasts, hiking, yoga, and doing tactile things like redecorating my studio, gardening or cooking. Puzzles are fun too.

“Recap” was written in Bob Dylan’s old Airstream at Rick Rubin’s Shangri-La in Malibu, CA, tell us about how that?
I think this was one of my favourite sessions ever. Astralwerks threw a week-long writing camp at Shangri-La and I got the chance to work in all the iconic studios there. The church was amazing, so was Rick’s main studio, but the airstream was definitely my favourite. I get along so well with VanJess and Noah Breakfast (who played guitar on “Recap”) so it was a great vibe, to begin with. The combination of good company, the sun coming in through the windows, the sound of the ocean in the background, and the knowledge that some of my favourite albums were made/recorded in the bus – paradise! It was so relaxing that I actually napped briefly while the girls were recording their vocals.

How did you, VanJess and Channel Tres all contribute to this song?
I wrote the song with VanJess and Noah Breakfast in the Airstream, and then worked on the production during the first part of lockdown. I had actually played the song to Channel a few times in my studio pre-pandemic and knew he loved it, and when the production started to form I realized how great he would sound on it. He recorded his verse from home and sent it to me.

“Recap” has been described as “genre-bending,” how would you describe the song and what, if any, genre would you define it as?
I find it really hard describing my own music! Not particularly because I think it’s genre-bending – even though I take that as a compliment, I just lose some perspective when I’m so close to something. When I was learning how to produce I was listening to a lot of electronic music and playing clubs regularly, and in recent years have been working more on the wide umbrella that is pop music… so it’s something kind of in the middle of those two things I think?!

You were born in OZ but have lived in London and now Los Angeles; how have each of those places influenced your art? What is your favourite thing about each city?
My music started to sound happier when I moved to LA. I never used to be able to make a happy song! Must be the sunshine! I was super influenced by the music coming out of the UK even when I was in Australia, so I think it’s kind of like pre-LA dark, moody, electronic music and post-LA sunny, happier – but still hints of London.

Early in your DJ’ng career, Diplo was a huge fan, how did he learn of your work? And how did his support alter your career?
I sent him demos and he listened to them! And then he signed the demos to his label Mad Decent – was pretty cool. He’s such a multifaceted artist/producer / DJ. I just loved the way he applied his background in dance music to pop – that was super inspiring for me.

When did you shift from DJ to also producer/songwriter?
I was messing around with production, even while I was in high school, as well as collecting records and learning to DJ. I’ve been DJing and making electronic music for a long time, but I think my skills developed as a producer when I moved to LA and started collaborating more. You just learn so much from being in rooms with crazy talented people!

How much did having a number one song on the iTunes dance chart and a top 10 hit at dance radio mean to you?
Any achievement is definitely nice but I think it’s hard to not always be looking for the next thing. Got to practice gratitude meditation haha.

What is the best advice you have been given?
I don’t know if it’s really advice, but someone once said to me “it’s just music, it doesn’t really matter” and for some reason, I think about that often and it makes me enjoy the process more rather than focusing on what I’m trying to prove with it or get out of it.

KITO

Photo credit – Lindsay Ellary

KITO
Photo credit – Lindsay Ellary

Favourite artists, in any genre, established or emerging that you love?
I’ve been listening to VanJess – their new album is so good!, Channel Tres, Logic1000, Amaarae, Pa Salieu, Ama Lou, Jacques Greene, 070 Shake, Syd, H.E.R. and Roddy Ricch!

What are you watching, reading and listening to currently?
I’m watching so much trash right now… The Bachelor and Love Island. And I have a stack of books next to my bed that I keep meaning to start, and keep ordering more.

Social media has become even more popular since the pandemic, do you enjoy using social media or do you prefer to unplug?
I have a love/hate relationship with it – like I think most people do! I really like to unplug, but I’m also super addicted to it.

Which artists would you like to collaborate with in the future and why?
Probably anyone from the list of artists I’m listening to right now. Plus SZA! And Tove Lo! And Saweetie! I love her song with Jhené Aiko.

What record do you wish you had made yourself?
Brent Faiyaz – “Dead Man Walking”

Who, if anyone, do you think we should be listening to that we might not be right now?
Logic1000 and Amaarae!

Which fashion designers or brands do you gravitate towards?
Acne, but I’m not quite there yet with blowing 1k on an outfit lol

What do you foresee 2021 looking like for you?
I tentatively have a really good feeling about it. Hopefully, lots of music, more time with friends, eventually some travel, and seeing family.

Anything you want your fans or potential fans to know about you?
That I’m self-taught and have hardly any expensive gear! You don’t need a fancy degree or expensive synths to make interesting music.

Describe your ideal Wonderland?
My personal wonderland involves rain, pillows and a huge duvet, or quilt or doona depending on your country of residence. Also some fun food or hot drink situation and maybe it’s a weekend. My phone is turned off, but I probably do have my laptop and I’m browsing some things that I don’t need or making some little music ideas, and I have endless time!

Words
Erica Cornwall
NEW NOISE: KITO

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