The dark streets of London may be the spiritual home of dubstep, but if you head 5 hours south of sunny Perth, you’ll find a Donga parked out in the bush where the sound has most certainly settled in. A Donga, for those that didn’t know, is kind of like a big caravan, except what makes this one so special is that inside you’ll find dubstep DJ and producer Kiko writing tracks that make it back across the world and into the minds of some of the genre’s biggest and most respected artists.
Benga, N-Type, Digital Mystikz, Joker – ask any of them what a Donga is and they wouldn’t have a bloody clue, but they’ve taken to the sounds coming out of Kiko’s like its been parked outside DMZ in Brixton for the last 9 months. For Maaike Kito Lebbing, the full name behind the girl, it’s a huge achievement, the magnitude of which has not been lost on this easy-going 22-year old. But even though her flights are booked for a move to England’s capital in March and a legitimate shot at the big time, you get the impression she still can’t really believe this is all happening.
‘I’m really excited,’ she says of her imminent relocation, ‘I lived there about 3 years ago for 6 months and then I kind of travelled around the place and did bits and pieces’ During her time overseas Kito was listening to a lot of down tempo music and, like anyone with a good ear, picked up on Burial, quickly captivated by the deep and delicate nature of what was a new and experimental sound. On her return to Australia, she did what it would take to make things happen for herself and turned a hobby into something more.
‘I got into DJing before I was into production, but I’d always really wanted to produce. It was really after my trip in Europe that I thought ‘If I don’t do this – if I don’t really commit to learning how to produce music, I’ll never forgive myself.’
What happened next seems like a young producers dream. A sequence of events so sacred that it is only whispered about in hushed tones, or scoffed at in slightly louder ones, such is its supposed improbability. But it really happened. Kito got in touch with Skream via MySpace and sent him ‘What If’, a beautiful, stirring arrangement, typical of her style. She hit the jackpot – without really knowing it. ‘I never expected him to get back to me but he got back to me that night,’ she recalls. ‘He really liked it and wanted to cut it to play it.’
Skream obviously liked how it sounded over a heavy system too, because he wanted to sign it to his label, although, at the time Kito was blissfully unaware of what this could mean for her, ‘I didn’t even know he had a record label. I was so clueless with dubstep. I was like ‘What? You want to sign it? Onto what? she remembers laughing.
If Kito didn’t know it then, she does now. Her long awaited debut EP is due out on Skream’s Disfugured Dubz label in March. However, don’t be surprised if the next batch of tracks are sounding a little different as Kito looks to follow her musical muse, wherever it may take her. The challenge is on to test her musical reach and broaden the scope of the dubstep sound as Joker, Martyn, 2562 and a number of others have done so well. ‘I love it that everyone is trying different things and going in all these new directions. There’s always going to be the purist dubstep sound, I’m sure that wont go anywhere. But it’s not stale and there’s lots of new, exciting sounds coming out. I like it all,’ she decides, before quickly correcting herself, ‘Well, most of it anyway!’