EP Walkthrough: Perth expat Kito breaks down her collaborative new EP, Blossom
With her second EP, the Los Angeles-based producer enlists a string of guest collaborators for an eclectic, forward-thinking mix of sounds.
Header image by Elizabeth Miranda.
You would be hard-pressed to find an Australian export with a discography that could compare to Kito's. Now based in Los Angeles, the Perth-raised musician has become a reckoning force both behind-the-scenes and in the limelight herself; the former shown through her work with heavyweights present, past and future - Jorja Smith, BANKS, Tinashe and Mabel included - while her own genre-defying work has been showcased through remixes, singles and a debut EP titled HAANI in 2018, which brought an introduction to her production prowess alongside guests including BROODS and mentor Hudson Mohawke.
In the time since HAANI, however, Kito has come a long way. Undeterred by the turbulence of the last two years, she's spent the time furthering her sound and bringing new energies to the work she creates, linking up with new guest collaborators that inject freshness into the work she's created. Over the last year in particular, we've begun to see teases of this continued evolution play out; her 2020 single Alone With You juxtaposing a rich production with an anxious vocal from AlunaGeorge, while Bitter saw her unite with FLETCHER, one of the year's runaway pop success stories.
Now, she emerges on the other side of her self-empowering journey with a second EP titled Blossom, which with its arrival today, cements Kito as one of Australia's most forward-thinking and tactile musical exports, with a craft for experimentalism that sees her seemingly one step ahead the rest. Blossom feels like a defining release for Kito, building upon the introduction she welcomed via HAANI three years back for a new collection of tracks that show how much she's grown, as she continues to step outside of her comfort zone both as a producer and as the person behind the art.
It's something that Blossom relishes in as its tracklist unveils. Recap is one of the year's most dizzying songs, moulding together her electronic backbone with the hip-hop and R&B edges that come from guest collaborators VanJess and Channel Tres; the end result being a blurred, genre-hopping delight that shows Kito's prowess. Elsewhere on the EP, songs like the BROODS-assisted Locked On You shimmer with a more down-tempo energy, while contrastingly, the EP-closing ZHU and Jeremih collaboration Follow is amongst her most energetic work to date, showcasing a versatility that's spotlighted throughout Blossom just as much as the general craft that brings it all together and has it sounding incredible.
This emphasis on genre-less versatility is a high-shining moment for Kito, something that further establishes her as one of Australia's most gifted producers - someone who is carrying the future of dance music into new, exciting horizons. That's perhaps the most obvious takeaway from Blossom, as the EP navigates the thrill of Kito's sound at its most euphoric right down to the gentle nature that often disguises itself underneath the textural tapestries of her production; those more subtle moments that reveal themselves in songs like Locked On You and Skin & Bones.
Blossom feels like Kito really pushing herself - which was kind of the whole point, as she explains. "The word ‘blossom’ just kept coming back to me," she says on the EP. "It feels like the most female-energy music I've done. My goal as a producer is to keep working with amazing artists and push myself. I want to grow." Blossom most certainly achieves that, drawing in a host of music's most dynamic names and uniting them through the productions she's able to piece together.
Blossom is an incredible release, and you can take a dive into it below, alongside a track by track walkthrough detailing its creation and themes one song at a time:
1. Always Been You
During lockdown, I regressed to being a bedroom producer and did what all bedroom producers do best - collaborate online. I’ve been a fan of couros’ production for a long time and we connected and started working on music together. He sent me an idea that started the journey for what ended up as Always Been You. We worked sending stuff back and forth, and then I sent this instrumental to Alessia De Gasperis (FKA as Kai) to see if she had any ideas over it. I couldn’t believe it when she sent me this song within 24 hours of getting the instrumental. I think it’s the perfect opener for the EP as it’s such a playful song production-wise paired with such a catchy hook.
2. Recap ft. Van Jess & Channel Tres
Recap is still one of my favourite songs I’ve worked on. I wrote this with VanJess at Rick Rubin’s studio Shangri LA (in Bob Dylan’s old bus respectively!) and then spent weeks working on the production. The chorus was originally the second verse so there was room for a feature and I felt like it needed an extra injection of energy. I had played an early demo to Channel Tres and I knew he liked the song. He recorded his verse at home and sent it to me and it just completed what I think is such a perfect collaboration. Love how this one turned out.
3. Skin & Bones ft. Winona Oak
When LA went into lockdown, me and a few Aussies that stayed here kind of glued ourselves together. Sarah Aarons (amazing Australian songwriter!!) has been a very close friend of mine for a while, but during lockdown, she really became my family and I’m not sure I could have done it without her! We ended up living together for a solid 6 months, and along with watching a lot of Survivor and eating a lot of pasta (she’s an amazing cook) we also wrote some great songs - Skin & Bones being one of them.
I sent the song to Derrek who runs the Neon Gold Records to see if he had any ideas for it, and he immediately suggested Winona Oak. Winona loved it, and within a few days came over to record it. She really smashed it!
4. Locked On You ft. Broods
More members of my lockdown family! I’ve become super close with Broods (and Noah Breakfast who is also part of our lil LA family, and also worked on this song as well as Recap!). I really love this song. I started the idea with Ilsey Juber - it was literally just this amazing verse over some simple chords that I couldn’t stop listening to. I played it to Georgia and she loved it and wrote the chorus and second verse. A true cry in the club banger.
5. Steal My Clothes ft. Bea Miller
I wrote Steal my Clothes with some amazing songwriter friends in a cabin in the snowy mountains in Mammoth, California earlier this year. It was the first time collaborating in this way after so long in lockdown and it was SUCH a fun week. When I recorded Bea on it she had been up late the night before and her voice was all husky which honestly just made it so much better. Suits the energy of the song.
6. Tongue Tied ft. Terror Jr
I’ve had this song longer than any other track on the EP. Terror Jr and I made it over 2 years ago and it’s STILL one of my favourite songs I’ve ever made. A low key banger!!!! It’s one of those songs my friends ask me to play when we’re hanging out and I still love it as much as when we first made it. I’m really excited for people to hear this one.
7. Follow (w. Zhu & Jeremih)
Another lockdown online collab story. I was sent the song during lockdown to try some track ideas for it. This is honestly how I started making music - building music around acapellas I found online. I’ve been such a big Jeremih fan for years, so it was a dream to get his vocal and this song felt so special. Zhu and I got connected via our label Astralwerks, and worked on it by sending ideas back and forth. Really proud of this one!