"There are those who are imprisoned by the standard and then there are those who define it. Kitto's one of the latter." - Brian Kramer, NY.
Kitto's been described as a 'vocal chameleon' and a 'musical abductress'. Some fans see the Melbourne-born singer/guitarist as the princess of Oz, tripping down the yellow brick road with a swag full of mod-mantras, while others, in awe of her mighty voice, simply can't work out which slot to put her in. Pop? Grunge? Alternative rock? Folk?
Uncompromisingly, Kitto defies labels and convention with a spirit that burns. In essence, the sound that can't be pigeonholed comes from the heart, raw and poetic, ignited by a desire to share observations and experiences with the world.
Kitto's intense. She doesn't bleed words; she moulds them into sounds that soar. Reliving stories through songs, she spreads herself across the spectrum. She's driven, barefoot on stage and swinging, always giving her all when she performs. Musicians who've worked with her will tell you "She has an improvisational mentality, the inflections are never the same." American musos have hailed 'her unique guitar style, exploding with complex rhythmic textures, subtle nuances and dramatic dynamics.' Despite having nodules cut out of her throat a couple of years ago, the voice is big, afterburners blazing.
Her producer Bil Bryant believes "She's totally committed to her music and she sings for her supper. Kitto will give 100% every time. Very rarely do you find a musician like that."
Submerged in 1960s sit-com fantasyland, with heroines like Samantha from Bewitched, Kitto picks up litter on the streets and believes "in the greatness of human beings, in the magic of creativity. Every single hour it has to move, that's life reinventing itself every day." It's her mantra.
Kitto grew up listening to artists like Ricky Lee Jones, Neil Young, Shane McGowan and Joni Mitchell. As a teenager in Victoria she learned to play guitar and started to explore the outer limits of her vocal chords, and when she was eighteen she got her first gig for forty bucks at Darwin's long-gone Club Papillon. At the time she was in the navy, working on aerial maintenance out at Humpty Doo.
When she got out of the navy, Kitto returned to Melbourne and started working as an auto electrician fixing alternators. In her spare time she recorded an Opal menswear jingle, performed at Melbourne fashion parades and scored jobs playing covers in bars. It was in a St Kilda wine bar in 1989 that ex-Ferrets singer Billy Miller asked Kitto if she could 'scream'. She let rip and scored sessions recording backing vocals for Miller's new band the Gypsies. It was an engagement that led to tours with the Gypsies for a year with appearances on Hey Hey It's Saturday and calls to provide backing vocals for recordings by Cattletruck and the Chantoozies. (For the record, Kitto reckons it was Billy Miller who taught her 'the feel').
She then teamed up with Gypsies drummer John Annas, a dynamic combination given Kitto's "Free spirit, trust the universe, get on stage and do it" approach to music and what she calls "John's professional approach, always taking responsibility
Playing with me was like riding a wild pony." They toured from Melbourne to the outback playing covers and introducing originals. Through Premier Artists' Frank Stivala they got the opportunity to record demos with producer Ernie Rose (Little River Band/John Farnham).
While Kitto wasn't comfortable with the introduction of 'musicians with briefcases', the sessions led to the Mushroom Records single Blind Lead The Blind in May 1991. Resisting pressure to conform to female 'pop star' clichés, Kitto was developing an eating disorder - blowing out at 7-11's, throwing up and getting on stage. Within weeks of the single's release, Kitto and Mushroom parted company.
In the aftermath she spent seven months sitting on beaches writing songs in Indonesia, living in huts with a mosquito net and basic utensils in West Timor, Bali and Java.
Returning to Australia in 1993, Kitto supported Noiseworks in Darwin and then headed to Sydney where she met with Don Walker (Catfish/Cold Chisel) who propped her in his lounge room, listened to forty songs and gave her the elemental advice "a few lines tell a story, strip it back and let it rip." It set her free. She had collaborative song-writing sessions with Rob Gale (Pearls & Swine), and performed in Sydney clubs like Round Midnight, the Manly Boatshed and Springfields. After she did shows with Jeff 'Skunk' Baxter, of Steely Dan/Doobie Brothers fame, he extended an invitation to play in the US. On the eve of her departure, Kitto's guitars and amps were stolen. She borrowed a friend's guitar to earn enough money to buy an instrument for the trip.
In Los Angeles - the city of 'pay to play' - Kitto went looking for a job pulling coffees and landed a gig playing at Beetlejuice on Melrose. She scored bookings at the Roxy, the Whisky-A-Go-Go and the Tatou Club and laid down demos with Michael Blum (producer for Suicidal Tendencies, New Radicals). When her US visa expired, Kitto returned to Australia to record her first independent epee 20 Jacksonia, and then headed for Europe in 1995, kicking off with an appearance on Good Morning Sweden and shows in universities and clubs with acts as diverse as Wilson Pickett, Bon Jovi and Megadeath.
By February 1996, she was playing the major Scandinavian festivals. Kitto then formed the band Baby Porcelain in London and spent the years 1997-99 touring Europe, including a performance for Princess Stephanie of Monaco at Café Replay. Taking a breather in the UK, Kitto took to busking on London's iconic Portobello Road. Baby Porcelain's last hurrah was the live CD Umbilically Yours released in 2000.
After solo shows in Australia, Kitto headed back to Europe in 2001, hitting the Spanish coast where she wrote ten songs in ten days. Returning to Sweden she formed her own label Whosjack - named after her mascot teddy bear - and went to work with producers Bil Bryant (Joan Osborne) and Anders Molin (Roxette) recording the album Princess of Tragedy.
Released in 2002, Princess of Tragedy spawned the JJJ favourite "Bus Driver" and saw Kitto playing her home country once more. The album also impacted hard in Europe with "Bus Driver" reaching number one on the Swedish SPRAY charts.
Returning to Europe for a tour, which included a guest appearance at the ABBA tribute concert in front of 36, 000 people per night over three performances, Kitto further established her place in the industry and recorded the first single from her second album "Precious Junk", due out later in 2003- "I Wonder Why".
With a powerful driving beat and a merciless vocal performance, the hooky track is beginning to gain momentum and with Kitto touring Australia, based now in her hometown of Melbourne, the amazing story of Kitto is only just beginning.www.whosjack.com