Photo credit: Bethany Vargas
Born and raised in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, TOKiMONSTA, real name Jennifer Lee, was an unfocused pupil of classical piano. However, she has come to use this background to create vast textural soundscapes by utilizing live instruments, percussion, digital manipulation, and dusty noise. Through her musical creations, she is able to fuse vintage sounds with progressive styles into something unique.
Her music has been recognized and praised by the very best in avant-garde and mainstream media. Her live performance is engaging as well as intricate—using a laptop, other pieces of instrumentation and multimedia to orchestrate a truly interactive experience. She is a fearless and energetic performer who tours regularly around the world from Los Angeles to New York, London to Tel Aviv, Singapore to Tokyo.
We caught up with TOKiMONSTA to talk about her latest album ‘Oasis Nocturno’ and other musical projects.
Electronic Groove: We want to thank you for granting us this interview. Your EP ‘Come and Go’ with VanJess is the eighth track of your latest album ‘Oasis Nocturno’ released in March 2020. Loaded with emotions and tremendous beats that transcend genres ranging from R&B, hip hop instrumental, electronics of course! Tech House, (…) clubbing. A whole palette of colors for divine inspiration! To get closer to the origin and context of ‘Come and Go’, first of all we would like to ask you about the vital meaning that the LP has for you?
TOKiMONSTA: Thank you for the kind words. ‘Oasis Nocturno’ is the kind of solace and comfort you find in the night. I have always thrived at night–from the evening moments you’re out with your friends to the quiet moments of solitude on the cusp of dawn. I wanted this album to be a story of those moods and feelings and it shows in how I arranged the songs on the album.
EG: ‘Oasis Nocturno’ overflows depth on tracks like ‘For My Eternal, Oh Dream My Treasure’, ‘To Be Remote’, or ‘Renter’s Anthem’ take you to other dimensions. In addition to the visuals you have made for ‘Love That Never’ or ‘One Day’ they make the record a masterpiece. We would like to know if you could share what the process was like deciding to remix ‘Come and Go’?
TOKiMONSTA: I’m proud of the entire album and feel as though I’ve really grown in so many ways during the time I made this project. The decision to have certain songs remixed was not simple or straightforward. However, I felt like other artists would really be able to be creative with ‘Come and Go’. It’s a song I really love and it carried a very strong message, not often seen in music these days.
EG: The atmosphere you get in your creations seems very significant to us, in this sense how do you think remixes enrich it? And how was the creative process when collaborating with Dombresky, Promnite, Halogenix, and Damian Lazarus? Is there an anecdote that you want to share?
TOKiMONSTA: Personally, I really love doing remixes. I am able to breathe new life in a song and share my musical perspective. When I have my songs remixed, I want to reach out to artists I know will be able to do something really special with the song. I also have no specific expectations as I’m just a fan of these artists. I love allowing them to express themselves and gain their own satisfaction from their work. There are times where the remixes are vastly different from the original and that’s totally fine with me.
EG: What is the last movie you have watched? Or book that you have read?
TOKiMONSTA: I wish I could say I read a book but does the news count? I should probably read more books. The last film I watched was Taika Waititi’s ‘What We Do in the Shadows’. A very cute and funny mockumentary on vampires who lives in New Zealand.
“I’m proud of the entire album and feel as though I’ve really grown in so many ways during the time I made this project”
EG: With which artist from any discipline would you like to collaborate? Or who would you like to remix?
TOKiMONSTA: Just to preface my answer, I always say the same two artists in the hopes that one day they will run into my interviews and actually work with me, they are Bjork and Missy Elliot in any capacity. Do they need a remix? I’m available! Do they want to remix? I have songs! Do they need a producer? I have beats!
EG: It has been an honor. So much thank you for your time and attention, and all the best from the Electronic Groove crew!
TOKiMONSTA: Thank you! If you ever interview Bjork or Missy Elliot, please give them my email 😉
TOKiMONSTA’s ‘Oasis Nocturno’ is now available. Buy and stream here.