Interviews

Kito talks new EP ‘Blossom’ and the wonderful world of collaborating

Kito

Producer and songwriter Kito picked out nothing but A-game beats, melodies and collabs for her new EP Blossom.

Aussie born, LA-based Kito is a remarkable songwriter, producer, DJ, and artist. There’s a reason she’s in hot demand, working with the likes of Beyonce, Fletcher, and Jorja Smith. After talking with her, I believe this reason could be her undeniable knack for turning the tiniest of ideas into fully-fledged creations.

Throughout the creative process of the Blossom EP, Kito worked until demos reached maximum potential, picked out synergistic features, and then self-produced until the tracks were fit. Talk about versatility.

Kito

HAPPY: How are you doing, Kito?

KITO: I’m doing good. Not too bad. How are you?

HAPPY: Yeah, I’m doing all right. Where are you joining us from today?

KITO: I’m in LA. I’ve been here the whole time. The whole time. The whole pandemic.

HAPPY: It’s such a pleasure to chat with you today. When I was doing some research, I was like, ‘wow, she is writing and producing, for so many other artists at the moment’. So, yeah, big congratulations on that.

KITO: Thank you.

HAPPY: One of your recent collaborations was with Fletcher, a track called Girls Girls Girls, where it was kind of a re-imagining of I Kissed a Girl by Katy Perry. How was the writing and producing experience for that?

KITO: That was such a fun challenge to work on that because Fletcher had the idea to do interpolation and sheets. We wrote the song, like we did three different interpolations to try and get the right one. So, I think after we’d done the second, we were like, ‘still not quite right’, but we were kind of like, ‘we’ve already spent this much time like trying to do it, let’s just do one more’.

And then the third time lucky was the one. Yeah, that was the one that we ended up using, which we really like. But yeah, no, it was cool. And then seeing Katy has been like supporting it a little bit over the last week. So it’s been pretty cool because…

 

HAPPY: That’s sick!

KITO: It’s iconic, you know, that stuff we all listened to as teenagers.

HAPPY: Yeah, I loved it. Was one of the challenges trying to kind of like balance, you know, giving it a new angle, but also keeping a bit of the original?

KITO: Yeah, definitely. And it’s also like a little twist on the original just because, like, you know, Katy’s… I mean, it’s also reflective of when the original came out, just the lyrics, even just like, you know, “hope my boyfriend don’t mind it”. So it’s like she’s not really into girls.

Like, and Fletcher’s very queer, and she was like ‘we gotta fix this’, you know? Which was kind of perfect. And so fun to do. But yeah, we definitely… like the second try where we wrote a completely different version, we actually didn’t really keep the original melody of the hook in it. And I was like… or both of us after were like, ‘that’s the whole point’. You know, we have to use the catchiest part of the original. So yeah, it was like reimagining it, keeping the chorus… part of the chorus. And we’re really happy with it.

HAPPY: Yeah, it sounds great. You definitely gave it the modern update that it sort of needed. You also collaborated with Fletcher on the track Bitter, which I read is now certified gold. I imagine that’s quite the feeling.

KITO: Yeah, it’s so cool. Also, quite funny because neither of us were really behind putting that one out, and then it got a feature in The L Word and it was like, all her fans just going crazy over the song and fans of the show just wanting it to come out. And it was a demo that was used on the show. And so we finished that one, and now it’s like one of those funny songs where we’re kind of like, ‘We’re crazy that we didn’t want to put this out. This sounds so good’.

HAPPY: Oh, that’s so good. Were you just kind of like second-guessing yourselves a little bit?

KITO: I think it’s just because it was quite different to both of our projects, so we were both like… she was like, ‘Well if you do it as a Kito track with me as a feature, that would make sense’ and I was like, ‘Well, I actually wrote this with you for your project’. Because it’s very different from the stuff that I was working on for my project. So it wasn’t that we didn’t like it, because we both liked the song a lot.

It just didn’t feel like it fit like either of our projects at the time. Now, I think like we were definitely overthinking it, and sometimes you just have to be like, ‘Well, I love this song. This is a great song. Let’s just put it out’. We got it now. I think I’ll overthink it less.

HAPPY: I wanted to touch on your upcoming EP Blossom, which is so exciting. The first single was Follow with Zhu, featuring Jeremih?

KITO: Yes, it was definitely… when I put that out, it wasn’t like I had the EP ready or anything. It was just, I love that song. And it’s including a couple of the singles I put out during the pandemic, felt good to like, give it a new, I don’t know, new sort of energy. Because that’s such a dance track and I want to play that. And so I’m giving it a new platform, I guess.

HAPPY: Yeah. There’s also so many collaborations on the EP. So I’d love to ask, do you have any secrets or advice for collaborating in a creative field?

KITO: I mean, I love collaborating. I’ve found that I’ve learned so much since I moved to LA. LA is such a collaborative place and yeah, I’ve just learned so much from writing music with other people. And I love the process of like making something, and then think… like the A&R’ing of a record or even just… yeah, it’s a bit like curating.

For example with Recap, working on that song with Van Jess, but then asking like, ‘what if there was like this other flavour to it that would give it another dimension?’ and I thought Channel would really like the song. So I sent it to Channel and I don’t think it would have been Recap if he didn’t get on it as well. Like, it brought another…, I don’t know. Just another energy to it that makes it so good.

HAPPY: No, that’s awesome. I must confess, the single I’ve been pumping the most is the one with Bea, Steal My Clothes. The production and melody just flow together so nicely, which kind of made me wonder, how do you start your writing process? Is it like with a melody or a beat, or…?

KITO: I mean, they’re all kind of different, but that one I wrote with a few people on a writing camp earlier this year in Mammoth in California. So it was like snowy mountains and in a little cabin, and we wrote that song just over the chord progression. It’s a little off the chord progression melody, and it had… I don’t even think we had drums. At the end of the day, it was literally just a solo with like that chord progression.

I usually write songs like that with people, where it’s just over a progression or like a cool little idea or a loop. Like sometimes obviously they don’t have drums. But usually, it’s like a bit of a skeleton of a song. And then afterwards, I’ll go and spend time on the production.

HAPPY: Yeah, cool. So starts with the chords. Get the melody, and then work on the beat?

KITO: Yeah, mostly that’s how it comes together. Although there’s no real route. I don’t think there are any rules. It’s always a little different.

HAPPY: Yeah, for sure. Can’t constrict yourself if you’ve got a good idea. You just got to run with it, right?

KITO: Yeah, definitely.

HAPPY: In the music video for Steal My Clothes, you guys are just like straight up vibing in a mostly empty performance hall. Did anything inspire that scenario?

KITO: I don’t know how obvious it is, but she’s actually stealing the clothes of everyone that’s sitting at a table, and she ends up in my outfit as well. She works a lot with this director… Gina, I forget her last name.

She’s really good. She has done all of Bea’s videos and they came up with the idea together and because they’re so comfortable working together, and I thought the idea was really cool, I was like, ‘Let’s make this. This sounds so fun.’ It’s playful. I like it.

HAPPY: Yeah nice, it’s definitely playful. One more thing I’d love to talk about is your most recent single, Skin and Bones, which you co-wrote with the wonderful Sarah Arens. How was it working with Sarah?

KITO: So good. She’s one of my best friends over here, and we were living together during the lockdown, so it was super fun. Like, it was just like a song that we did one night and we were like, ‘This one’s so good.’ Like, afterwards we would play it and just be like, ‘Damn, this song is so great.’

And then the challenge when writing a song with Sarah is figuring out who can sing it, because her voice is so good. And of course, she never wants to give it up, so we have to like find someone, but Winona Oak sounds so good, her voice is so good. So that was amazing that that just came together so perfectly.

HAPPY: Nice, I could listen to it all day, it’s so nice. There’s also a lyric in the song, “I see you in the blossoms”. And I was like, ‘That’s the name of the EP!’ Is there a connection there?

KITO: Definitely, I mean, I think it was just that word came to me and then I realised, ‘Oh, it’s in that song’. Like, was I subconsciously thinking about it from that? I don’t know. Yeah. Blossom is just, I don’t know… I kind of think of this EP as a bit of a bouquet of flowers.

Because I did put it together like that, just picking these songs; ‘I love this song. This kind of goes with that song’. Because I have so many songs and these ones, just it was like, honestly, my label being like, ‘We have to do an EP’ and me going, ‘Ok.

HAPPY: That’s such a good image, I’ve never thought of picking songs like that. That’s cool.

KITO: That’s kind of how it felt.

HAPPY: Is there is a prized flower amongst the bunch?

KITO: I don’t know. I kind of change my mind constantly about which is my favourite. Like, I love Recap. I think that’s still one of my favourites. Tongue Tied with Terry Jr as well. Like, I’ve had that song for such a long time and I still really love it, so I’m excited for that one to come out. And yeah, but yeah, they’re all special in their own way.

HAPPY: Yeah, no sorry, it’s such a bad question. You’ve never meant to ask what the favourite is, but I couldn’t help myself. So it’s dropping on Friday. Is there anything you want to let your fans know before it comes out? Or do you like the surprise?

KITO: I don’t know. I think it’s just to be enjoyed whatever. Like, I don’t have any special message. I can’t wait to start playing these songs actually, even though I’ve been writing songs that aren’t necessarily for like a DJ set over the last couple of years, because I haven’t really been playing, I’m kind of excited to, like, just see where they exist. And I think they’re songs for anywhere. I played on Friday and played Recap. And even though it’s so much slower than some of the other stuff that I play like, it feels… it’s just, yeah, it’s fun sort of experimenting different tempos and trying to balance that or dance between the two worlds of like club music and pop, I guess, which is kind of what my project is. So it’s to be enjoyed anywhere.

HAPPY: Yeah, I read somewhere that it was like crying in the club type music, and I was like, ‘I can see that’.

KITO: I don’t know if that’s accurate anymore, because I think since I’ve moved to LA, all my music seems to be more happy. And when I lived in London, it was a little bit moody. So who knows?

HAPPY: Yeah, no. Fair enough. That about wraps up my questions. But yeah, thanks so much for your time. It’s been a pleasure to chat.

KITO: Yeah, likewise. Thanks.

HAPPY: Yeah. And all the best for the release.

KITO: Appreciate it. Thank you.

 

The Blossom EP is available on all streaming services

Interview by Manning Patston
Photos supplied