Kito produces. Reija Lee sings. Together their sound is a smart, hooky blend of sleek electronic pop drawing from early dubstep and indie rock influences. Their first tag team track was released through Skream’s Disfigured Dubz imprint and since then they’ve been getting love from everyone from Diplo to Big Boi to Feadz to Annie Mac.
This year they’re releasing a new EP titled, II, through Pay Day / Ultra, which features one of the standouts of the year so far, “WORD$” alongside New York’s Zebra Katz. Check our interview with the talented UK-via-Austrialia-based duo and the awesome mix they delivered for us below.
How are you guys doin’ today?
Kito: Doin’ good m8!
Reija Lee: Yeah good thanks!
Any big plans for the summer?
Reija: Our EP! It comes out July 22nd, so we’ve been working hard towards that. Other than that just trying to enjoy the London sunshine while it lasts.
Kito: It’s technically not Summer in America but the Mad Decent Boat Party! Surely that counts as Summer because it’s a Boat Party… and we’ll be going to islands and swimming in the sea. That would be a stupid idea in winter.
How does your writing process work? Are you able to get in the studio together?
Kito: We started renting a studio in London last October so we’re regularly in the studio together. Being able to sit down and work on things in the same room has sped up our process a lot – and it’s also a lot more fun than sending each other ideas over the internet (which is what we used to do).
Reija Lee: Yeah it’s a lot better than when we had to do everything online.. It’s definitely a more involved and enjoyable process for me now.
Kito: How did you get in touch with Skream for the 2009 release?
MySpace! Literally sent him some beats in a message and he got back to me and asked if he could cut them to dubplate. It was one of the most exciting moments of my life.
You guys have talked about older siblings being an influence on you musically. What tracks / artists / albums did they give you that make their way into your sound now?
Kito: I actually think I’ll credit my mum here – she introduced me to Kate Bush when I was a kid and it’s somehow come full circle and I’m regularly drawing inspiration from her music. Also, my older sister gave me DJ Shadow – Entroducing and Dr Octagon – Dr Octagonecologyst on a tape when I was about 13 and both of those albums have influenced me a lot.
Reija Lee: As a vocalist I’m really bad at figuring out what music has influenced me! But my brother introduced me to electronic music in general. He got me my first vocal feature on a Muscles track called Sweaty (Shazam’s remix). My joining with Kito and everything in my musical career stemmed from that moment so I have a lot to thank him for. Before that I was a rock n roll queen (though I think I still am at heart!)
Which ones have nothing to do with your sound but are still favorites?
Kito: Alice In Chains, System Of A Down and Deftones
Reija Lee: Pink Floyd – The Wall (from my parents)
Kito: You’ve mentioned being into drum & bass. Would you be interested in making a track in that style for this project?
I think WORD$ has a drum & bass feel to it. Well, you could mix it with Drum & Bass as it’s the same tempo. There’s a couple of things we’ve done that definitely sound like they’re influenced by that style but I don’t really think we’ll ever do a straight up drum & bass tune. Reija has already done vocals on quite a few D&B things.
Following two instances where your tracks have been used in rap singles, have you thought about creating new original tracks within the rap world?
Kito: YES. Definitely. However I don’t think you’ll ever catch Reija rapping.. haha
Reija Lee: Hahahaha.. yeah.. you won’t. Calling all rappers out there?!
Reija Lee: What were the bands you were in before this project? Can we find any of those tracks on youtube?
Reija: I’ll never tell!
What are the main differences of Perth and London? What do you miss from home?
Kito: I miss the weather, my family, and my friends. London feels like the right place to be for us right now though – the music scene here is why I’m here and I think I would miss it a lot if I were back in Australia. Oz does have better festivals though!! Summer festivals in Australia are so fun.
Reija Lee: Yeah it’s the weather and the people I miss. Obviously my family and friends. Little things like the beach, the sound of crickets at night and 40 degree days where you walk out the door and the heat hits you like a brick in the face hahaha
Reija Lee: Lyrics are really tough to come up with. How do you approach writing vocals from scratch?
Reija: Sometimes I’ll have a story / concept already that I’ve felt from the song.. If I don’t get that straight away I usually listen to music, watch movies or read books to get inspiration and ideas. After that, I can’t explain it – it just happens!
Kito: Your rhythms have a dubstep influence, but not in such a way that they’re confined to the genre’s hype. How would you say the genre has influenced your production?
Kito: It’s influenced my sound a lot as that’s what I was listening to when I first started producing. It really has been quite amazing watching a genre of music completely evolve and change in such a small amount of time. The stuff that got me into Dubstep was the stuff coming out of London around 2005, and later Bristol (that purple sound). I think I still have that angle when I write music now – my drums are quite upfront and my beat patterns often resemble some early Dubstep.
Any plans for official videos for the new release?
Reija Lee: Maybe…
WORD$” is amazing. How did the Zebra Katz collab come about?
Kito: Thank you! I met Zebra Katz while playing at the Mad Decent Block Party in New York a couple of years ago. I already knew who he was and was a big fan of ‘Ima Read’. We hung out in Brooklyn and then linked up again in London when he was over. He originally asked if I wanted to write some beats for his mixtape but I roped him into the studio with Reija and we smashed out WORD$ in a day!
What else can we expect on the II EP?
Kito: There is a track called ‘Turn Into You’ which I originally produced with Two Inch Punch and then Reija ended up doing vocals on it. I really love this song. Reija’s vocal hook on the chorus is SO catchy. I feel like this is some kind of a ‘Sweet Talk’ sequel..
Reija Lee: Our music is definitely taking a few new paths, we chose a variety of different sounding songs so it’s a bit of a showcase I guess. There’s Turn Into You, which, as Maaike said, we feel goes back to our Sweet Talk roots.. and another more deep, brooding track which I love.
Being big Kate Bush fans, would you ever consider a cover?
Kito: YEAH! NO! YEAH! I dunno. Would be awesome but there are also some artists you don’t really wanna touch. But it would be so cool!!
Reija Lee: Yeah I think I’m a bit torn over this idea! As much as I’d love to, I feel like she might be one of those artists that you just can’t do justice! But you never know…
What are some of your favorite things outside the world of music?
Kito: Visual stuff! Photoshop and the world wide web. Snorkeling. Growing stuff in my garden. Fitness. Twins.
Reija Lee: I really love anything where I can use my hands. Analogue photography, building stuff, gardening. Oh and FOOD!
Kito & Reija Lee MiniMix Tracklist:
Kito & Reija Lee – Under My Skin
Zutzut feat. Lao – Momentos De XTC (CYPHR Remix)
ID – ID
Kito & Reija Lee – Sweet Talk Vocal
Trinidad James – Females Welcomed Remix featuring Juicy J
Guido – Mad Sax
Frisco – Are You (feat Chip)
Kito & Reija Lee – Turn Into You Vocal
Miss Modular – Earplug
DJ Tricks ft. PrepTheProducer – Bang Bros
ID – ID
Kito & Reija Lee – Turn Into You (Big Dope P & Mighty Mark Remix)
Banks – Drowning (Lido Remix Instrumental)
Reija Vocal recording of Cassie – Numb (fun K&RL bootleg thing)
Sinjin Hawke – Bloodflame
Kito & Reija Lee – Starting Line (Etched Remix)
Com Truise – Open
Kito & Reija Lee – WORD$ ft Zebra Katz