In a bit of a work slump right now? Welcome to #PlayTime, Grazia Daily's new music feature. From just-dropped music premieres to cool covers and throwback classics, its the new soundtrack to your afternoon.
Australian born, London hailing duo Kito & Reija Lee produce, write, record and perform all their own music. Impressive. So impressive, in fact, that when a then 19-year-old Kito sent a message to Skream and Diplo via MySpace, their ears were immediately perked to attention. Not least because girls in a heavily male influenced electronic music world are far and few between. But it's their sheer prowess both together and seperately that have taken the girls from a small town in Australia to finding a home on Diplo's Mad Decent label and being sampled by the likes of Trinidad James and Outkast's Big Boi.
Their second EP, aptly entitled 'II' dropped this week. We caught up with them to talk Drake, friendship and why there's such a lack of female producers.
Hey girls! I heard you recently moved to London from your hometown of Australia. How does the music scene differ?
Kito: I think London’s so inspiring, it’s got so much culture and history and so many different little pockets of genres. Australia’s exciting because it’s got the festival, summer vibe about it but there’s this amazing club culture here that we love.
You’ve been working together for a few years now, how did you meet?
Reija Lee: We’ve known each other since we were like 13. Kito was my cousin’s best friend in high school but we didn’t really start working on music together till we were about 19. We just worked on the one song for Kito’s EP…
Kito: I’d just written the track and I asked Reija to do some vocals on it. I hadn’t ever worked with a vocalist [before but] we recorded it in a day and then after that we were like ‘let’s just keep doing it!’
Was there a light bulb moment for you where you realized music is what you wanted to do?
Reija Lee: I come from a musical family and I always played in bands growing up so it was always just kind of normal for me. Electronic music wasn’t always my plan though, I fell into that when I started doing guest vocals for people and when this project kind of became my everything; that’s when I decided that this is what I wanted to do.
Kito: I actually went travelling in Europe when I was 19 and I spent like six months in London. I was already DJing and really into music and I worked in a nightclub in London called The End which is such a legendary club. I was exposed to so much different music and I went back to Australia with so much conviction.
What’s it like working together? Who does what in studio?
Kito: We kind of bring different influences together; we both listen to such different music when we’re apart so it’s really fun in studio, we can kind of play each other stuff that we’re both into and mix it together. We have very defined roles, Reija writes and performs the vocals, and I work on music and production.
What kinds of things inspire you in terms of lyrical content?
Reija Lee: I take on each song on it’s own. Some artists have a real message that go through all of their work, like Bob Dylan, there’s always something political with all his songs but I generally just have a different idea for each. If I’m feeling like I want to write something empowering for women or some break up song or a fictional story, it totally depends on the music for me because that’s where my first point of inspiration comes from.
What’s the last song you heard that you were like ‘I wish I wrote that!’
Reija Lee: Drake. The lyrics in ‘From Time’. When I heard that it was literally one of those songs like ‘Crap! Why didn’t I write that line?!’
You’ve been sampled by some pretty impressive names the likes of Big Boi from Outkast, what was that like?
Kito: So cool! We love rap and we listen to a lot of rap, but it’s not like we’ve ever aspired to kind of fit into that world; it’s just kind of happening organically, which has been really cool. We even started sort of sitting here thinking ‘maybe we should get a rapper on our song… maybe it does fit our music.’
Your debut EP was released a couple of years ago now and you’ve been making music for a while, how do you think your sound has developed?
Kito: I think we changed a huge amount. When we were doing it before we weren’t even in the same country and we were so independent, I was working in my own bedroom and was kind of working off DJ gigs. Now it feels like we’re so much more set up and we’re actually able to have these big sessions in the studio.
Reija Lee: We kind of have these moments where we’re like ‘has it really been two years!’ but then again so much has happened.
What have been your highlights?
Kito: [When we did the Mad Decent block parties last summer] we went over to America and all of a sudden we had people singing along to our tracks which was just crazy. I think that was the trip that made it all feel real.
Any words of wisdom in particular that you’ve picked up along the way?
Reija Lee: I think the best advice that I ever got which is usually in the moments where I’m like ‘this feels like work!’ is that the most important thing is the music, so stick with that and everything else will follow.
We love selfies! The despairing self, by taking notice of itself, tries to make itself more than it already is.— KimKierkegaardashian (@KimKierkegaard) June 10, 2014
If you were stuck on a plane tarmac for a year and could only follow one person on social media, who would it be and why?
Reija Lee: Ooh that’s a good one! I don’t want to say the news because it’s boring…
Kito: You’d get pretty depressed if you only followed the news. But it could be important… Oh! I’ve got one…it’s like a philosopher and Kim Kardashian’s tweets mixed together.
How do you think the Internet has facilitated your ascent?
Kito: I come from a small town in Australia and it just wouldn’t have happened otherwise. The way we got signed is I sent Skream a message on MySpace, and the same with Diplo.
You literally just sent them messages and they got back to you?
Kito: It’s kind of funny because there weren’t really any girls making Dubstep at the time so I just had all these messages from Skream saying ‘what! That’s crazy, you’re a girl!’
Do you think if you weren’t girls it would have been harder?
Kito: I think it’s been like a blessing and a curse in different ways.
Reija Lee: It is something that comes up a lot which is funny because there’s like a gazillion kinds of acts out there... singers and electronic acts but I think the difference is we’re a duo and we do all the production and music ourselves.
Why do you think there’s such a lack of female producers?
Kito: I think there’s more now than there ever has been but I’m not really sure… I think it’s just something that guys gravitate towards more. I studied music production and I was the only girl in my class.
Reija Lee: Whereas I studied music performance and there were plenty of girls in my class.
Kito; It’s probably quite a stereotype… it is changing though. It’s easier now for people to get a program to muck around on their laptop at home, you don’t really have to make as much of an investment.
Like what you hear? Check out Kito & Reija Lee's 'II' EP and follow them @kitoreijalee