Maxim Meyer-Horn

24 Apr

Kito: “I Want to Be Better at Knowing My Worth”

The journey of the Australian Kito reads like a true musical fairytale: after being inspired by musical legends Fruity Loops, decided to pursue her dreams and become a DJ and producer. A couple of years later, she ended up remixing for Beyoncé and produced songs for the likes of Jorja Smith and Fletcher. Since she is currently unable to travel the world and conquer dance floors, Kito works on new music in Los Angeles and recently put out her song “Recap”, which is a collaboration with VanJess and Channel Tres.

You’re currently in Los Angeles. Why is it such a good place to work on new music?

Since I moved to LA, I became such a better producer because I started working with all these different people that come from so many different areas in music as well. Some are from the Berklee College of Music in Boston and are amazing musicians, while others—like me—come from dance music and sampling. You end up working with all these different people with different skill sets, so all these collaborations are probably what’s special about LA to me.

You’re a DJ and producer. What fascinates you about electronic music?

I grew up in a small town in Australia, and I had friends with older siblings that were really into dance music. Therefore, we got into it and started listening to Squarepusher and Kraftwerk. That drifted into raving and when I moved to London, I got so into the scene there. It’s such a great culture and fun community. I was on forums and love this side of it because I was finding new music and got to engage with the community.

During that part of my life, I was going out a lot and got into DJing. You make something, give it to a DJ, and hear it getting played in the club, which is so exciting. It’s also so fun to work as a producer and songwriter having that background because it helps me realize that all these years consuming music in that way is something I can bring to the table. Combining that with songwriting and pop music, which is, in essence, making the simplest idea, is the most satisfying.

How did the London club scene shape you?

Even when I was in Australia, I was so into the music coming from the UK. It definitely shaped my palate of things I gravitate to soundwise, even when I’m making pop music. I was super inspired by artists like James Blake, that came from being a purely electronic artist, or Mount Kimbie. There were so many artists coming from the UK that had this unique palate with these incredible sounds and textures. In being influenced by that scene, I still feel like I’m injecting that in my music now.

The list of past collaborations is incredible with names such as AlunaGeorge, Jorja Smith, or Empress Of. What is for you essential when you collaborate with someone?

It’s important to be excited when you’re in the studio with someone and put all your ideas on the table, which is kind of a mystery. You never really know how it’s going to be when you enter the studio with someone, but it’s really important to feel some excitement about each other’s ideas and try to meet in the middle so people hear both of you in it.

How do you discover new artists that may be interesting to collaborate with?

A lot of it is being in the studio with different friends and playing each other things that you hear. Just being surrounded by music fans, you share so much music. I also discover a lot of artists through Spotify playlists and listen a lot to NTS Radio and heard this new artist called Amaarae on there for the first time.

Your most recent single is a collab with VanJess and ChannelTres. What’s the sonic inspiration of “Recap”?

We started writing on that song just over a guitar and kick drums. Sometimes it’s just picking up a guitar and messing around until you find one little idea that everyone’s getting excited about and try melodies over it.

Besides releasing original songs, you remix tracks quite often. Do you think that you have a signature remix style?

I don’t know if I have one. In the past, I always remixed stuff by thinking about how I would make the original with the vocals. Mainly, I go too far and go in a different direction that makes it a completely different track. I enjoy taking vocals and reflect on what other world I could bring it.

Dancing in a club seems to be super far away at the moment. How do you try to fill that gap in your life?

I think it’s by making a lot of new music. I just had such a fun week and worked with some friends. We all got tested before and we were just looking forward to being around people. When you’re writing stuff, you’re so excited that you’re dancing to it. I fill the gap by experiencing music with friends and truly get excited about creating music. I do miss going out, hearing live music, and going to festivals, so I really hope we get that back this year. That’s definitely a missing part of my life right now.

What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you’re back on stage?

I haven’t allowed myself to think that far because I get too sad about it not being right around the corner. I just try to get excited about making new music, which is something I’m doing right now. It’s been kind of nice to have this break and making so much new music because I will approach it with a fresh take. I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I can’t wait to return to a stage.

There are only a few female producers and DJs that get the recognition that they deserve. Do you feel that people in the industry treat you differently because you’re a woman?

I think less so now. There are more female producers and artists, so it’s less like a novelty thing now. When I first started out, I felt like I had to prove myself above and beyond. I don’t feel like that anymore. Since I moved to LA, it’s been so great working with artists because for some young artists it’s nice to be in the studio with just girls and write a song. There are always pros and cons in that way.

What do we need to change to stimulate equality?

Just acceptance that opportunities aren’t always handed out equally to everyone. At all levels, there needs to be an effort. We need to have women at the top levels of record companies, we need black executives in the major labels, and we need A&Rs of all genders (editor’s note: Artists and Repertoire look for talent). We have that, but we need more of it because that will help it trickle down. There’s already been so much progress, but there’s also so much more that has to be done. I want to be better at knowing my worth when I’m working with a male producer. It doesn’t come naturally to me to ask for the same amount, which is something we should look out for within ourselves and also within our community and industry.

Are you currently working on your first bigger project?

I’m working on an EP and a lot of new music. Sometimes, it just starts to grow and you ask yourself: “What is this?” I don’t think I want to do an album because I work with so many different artists, and it’s difficult to make a whole album. I like to be quite free with the music I’m working on and, at the moment, it’s leaning towards an EP.

Pictures by Lindsay Elllary.

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