Introducing: Kitano

By John Donaghy

Kitano is the production pseudonym of Andy Hart, an integral figure at the cutting edge of Melbourne’s dance community. A purveyor of all things deep, his creativity has spawned a number of releases, an internationally recognized podcast, his own events, and the Melbourne Deepcast record label.

Under his Kitano guise, he has produced some exceptionally good low-slung deep-house tracks over the past couple of years. “Drifting,” the title track from his debut EP on the Deeper Meaning label, laid out his intentions with a deeply soulful and sexy tempo, and the shuffling acid groove that bubbled underneath ensured both house and nu-disco heads paid attention. Likewise, his EP that followed on Kolour Recordings sent a ripple through the deep-house community—in particular, his remarkable “Republic” track, that carried with it a smoldering, deep-and-soulful vibe characterized by a vocal build and drum fills.

His most recent release on Dikso, Super Sound Singles Vol. 6, continues to wow house heads. ”For The King” is such a jacking affair—with its weighty stabs, druggy vox, and punchy acid-fueled bassline providing a suitable throb for the dancefloor—that we just had to get the 411 from the man himself. So allow us to introduce you to Kitano.

Can you tell us a little about your background? Where did you grow up, and where are you based now?

I’m an engineering student from Melbourne. I’ve lived here my whole life, although I’ve always liked the thought of moving overseas. I probably will end up doing so when I finish my degree.

How did you get started DJing and making music?

If you love music and spend enough time on computers, you’re bound to end up making it eventually—I think, anyway. That’s kind of what happened with me. I was experimenting with some music software and after a while I started generating the sounds that I liked. From there it was a natural progression to turn my sounds into something more substantial.

How would you describe the music that you make?

It’s an amalgamation of the genres I love, brought to life through machines.

How would you describe your sets?

I’ve been putting together a live set for a little while, but it takes time to get things right, so I’m not sure when it will be ready. It’s made up of some of my releases, but mainly unfinished ideas that have translated well in a live format.

Did you have any mentors when you were starting out?

Initially I was learning on the go, but friends like Craig McWhinney and Mic Newman helped me understand a lot in the studio. I also have Alex from Etoka/Deeper Meaning and Mike from Kolour to thank for putting out two EPs that would have just sat on my hard drive.

When did you first feel that you had finally discovered your own individual sound?

I don’t think I have! We’re all standing on the shoulders of giants in some way or another.

How do you explain your music to your family members?

I haven’t had to explain it to them yet, although that is possibly because they don’t like electronic music as much as we do.

Are you the type of musician who knows what kind of track you want to write before you sit down to make it, or do you create music more from a process of experimentation, trial, and error?

The creative process is a strange one. The first EP I wrote came from an idea I had at about 4 a.m. one night. I opened my laptop and put a few things into Ableton and then went back to sleep. The next day, the whole thing came together quite easily. Other times you can sit in the studio for days, playing around with anything and everything until eventually something comes to life. Although most of the time, it doesn’t.

When you sit down to make a track, what’s the first thing you typically do? How long does a track typically take you to make?

It’s always different. I’m spending a lot more time on sound design at the moment, so right now ideas will come from experimenting with synths. Depending on how well the idea is coming together, a track can take a few days to a few weeks. Getting an idea together doesn’t take long usually; it’s the engineering and arrangement that I spend most of the time on.

Where do you record?

I have a studio above a record shop.

Do you currently have a favorite piece of gear or software?

I’m sharing the studio with two other people, so we have a collection of gear that we’re using. My favorite piece of kit at the moment is the Moogerfooger filter. It has such a rich warmth, and although it only has a mono output, it’s great for adding color to most things.

Are you a morning person or night owl?

A night owl for sure, although I do try and get an early start during the week.

Which record do you wish you had made?

It would have been pretty amazing to be part of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, although I could probably list 1000 other albums I would have loved to be a part of.

If a wrecking ball was headed for your house, which one record would you rescue before it hit?

Shed‘s Shedding The Past.

When you’re not listening to electronic music, what do you listen to?

At the moment I’m listening to Radiohead. I had never really given them a chance until recently, when a friend offered me a ticket to their show here in November, so I’m slowly going through all of their albums. Kid A is pretty incredible!

When you’re not making or playing music, what’s your preferred pastime?

Spending time with good people. I also like really like design and history.

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing with your life?

Doing something in the visual realm.

Tell us about your upcoming gigs and releases…

I’m working on a few new things at the moment, but most of my time has been focused towards the live set. There should hopefully be a few records coming out before the end of the year though.