Tokimonsta is a very talented and charismatic DJ/producer who unintentionally represents a lot more than her music. Jennifer Lee (aka Tokimonsta) grew up near Los Angeles in Torrance, California, and lived that contrasting lifestyle that most first generation Asian American kids experience. She’s a classically trained pianist, but grew up bumping West Coast hip-hop. She earned a business degree from UC Irvine and worked in business development for a video game publisher, but eventually decided to follow her creative passions, and good thing she did.
Tokimonsta probably didn’t intend to be a trailblazer when she chose to steer her career towards creating music. Her lush, eclectic and genre-less style has helped her gain serious notoriety within the electronic/ dance/ future beats scenes. She was the first female to sign to Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label, joining in 2010. Since then Tokimonsta has developed a global fan base, recorded three albums, five EPs, and countless remixes, and is currently prepping her new album, Fovere, which will be released on her own label Young Arts Records.
In addition to putting out great music and charming every crowd she plays in front of, Tokimonsta is subtlety representing the increasing diversity in music. She’s Asian American and she’s a female, and these two demographics, in themselves, are not prevalent in the male dominated DJ/producer scenes. To operate and compete in an industry where you’re considered the “anomaly” is very challenging, but Tokimonsta again proves that everyone talent is not limited to a certain groups. Ultimately, it’s music, so who cares what you look like as long as it sounds good. I root for Tokimonsta because being an Asian America myself; I don’t see a lot of representation in mainstream culture, especially in entertainment, so I like it when Asian Americans are winning in industries that stray from the stereotypes.
I attended Tokimonsta’s Brooklyn stop of her Fovere tour at Rough Trade NYC. Even with a poor sound system, Tokimonsta was able to fuel a great party, dropping a number of remixes and original songs. Friend and collaborator Anderson .Paak (he’s all over Dr. Dre’s Compton album) joined her for a sold portion of the show, and I’ll admit that I’ve grown to like Anderson .Paak’s singing abilities (he’s also half Korean). One of my favorite things about Tokimonsta is that she always looks like she’s having the best time ever on stage, constantly beaming and she transitions between songs. That only enhance audience engagement is one of the reason she’s making some moves in the music space.
Be on the lookout for Tokimonsta’s new album Fovere, dropping January 29th. You can check a video from the Rough Trade NYC show and a recent live session she did with Thump.