After learning how to produce music after watching hours and hours of video tutorials, Kito has carved a niche for herself in the industry and has proven her worth working with artists such as Trevor Daniel, T.I. or Jorja Smith. This time around, the producer brings us her latest release along with Banks, – Sad Girl Music –, a track that was born from the great relationship between both artists and what brought them together: their passion for music.
Maaike Kito Lebbing or Kito: producer, songwriter and DJ. Let's start from the beginning. Tell us about how and why you started making music.
I started getting into dance music as a teenager which led to internet forums, raves and collecting records/DJing. Through forums, I made friends with people that were making their own music and that was my entry point.
You've said before that you learned to produce music thanks to video tutorials. Have you ever felt frustrated or discouraged during the process?
Of course! So many times. I’m so sensitive to the dynamics and sounds in a song and if the mix is way off I find it really hard to keep working on it. I think in my early stages of making music this really held me back and I wouldn’t finish stuff if I thought the mix sounded terrible.
Right now, you have millions of streams on Spotify and a ton of monthly listeners. What would you say now to that Kito who started producing years ago?
Have fun with it and be less precious. It’s not that serious!
You have collaborated with renowned artists such as Trevor Daniel, Ludacris, Jeremih or Jorja Smith. What other names would you like to work with?
I’d love to work with Pink Pantheress, Princess Nokia, Amaarae, Doja Cat, 070 Shake and so many more.
Tell us more about those collaborations. How did you approach them?
Trevor was on the Bitter Remix with Fletcher, the label set that up. The thing with Ludacris was just a sample of one of my songs that he, Big Boi and T.I. used. In fact, that song actually got taken down because they didn’t clear it, even though it would have been cool for them to keep it up!
About Jeremih, I was sent a demo of the song during lockdown and Zhu and I made the track for it to become a dance record, and then Jeremih recorded a second verse. We did that one remotely, I haven’t met either of them in person!
When the collaboration with Jorja Smith came about, I was still living in London at the time and working a lot with Ed Thomas, who is one of her main collaborators. We started the song idea for The One and played it for her, she loved it.
In collaboration with Fletcher, Bitter was born in 2020, your most listened-to song nowadays with more than one hundred twenty-seven million streams on Spotify. Congratulations, by the way! How did you both start to shape that track?
Thank you! We wrote this on the first day that we’d ever worked together. I guess sometimes you just get lucky!
Sad Girl Music, your latest release with Banks, talks about the sadness of an infidelity from the perspective of the cheater. The track proposes being consistent with our actions but also knowing how to forgive ourselves. Do you usually forgive yourself after making mistakes?
I’m insanely hard on myself – usually when work is involved – and I’m definitely learning to break that pattern as it’s not a healthy one! In the case of infidelity, some remorse is probably a good thing depending on your arrangement (laughs).
By the way, how was this collaboration with Banks born?
Mnek wrote the song, so it was really about finding the right home for it! Banks has been a friend ever since I worked on her song Gimme with Hudson Mohawke, and I just felt like this one was perfect for her. I think she really brought it to life.
Of all your songs, which is your favourite?
I have different favourites for different reasons! My favourites to play in a DJ set are Wild Girl and Recap.
To finish off, do you have any other future projects in mind?
I’m always working on stuff! Whether it’s for my own project, or for other artists’ projects. Last year I did music supervision for a short film called Femme that won a BAFTA and it was such an amazing learning experience. I’d love to further explore music supervision and maybe even scoring at some stage.