She has tenacity and drive, persevering through hardship and loss, and overcoming a rare and potentially fatal disease. Like the fearsome force of nature that she is, she came back stronger than ever to produce Lune Rouge. TOKiMONSTA is my pick for this week’s #WCW.
From the first few piano chords on ‘I Wish I Could Be’, you can feel the melancholy. As Selah Sue begins to croon, with breathy, echoey reverb, your heart hurts, but you’re hooked. The song transforms with a bright, upbeat drop and Selah Sue begins to belt “If the night is for the day, You won’t see the last of me “. It’s hard to imagine that this song is the first that Jennifer Lee, better known as TOKiMONSTA, produced after losing – and regaining – her ability to understand music.
Subtly telling the story of recovery and persistence, Lune Rouge tends to foray further into the dark and emotional side than Lee’s previous offerings. She credits it with being her most personal work to date. The expressive layering of complex melodies and chords make this work feel more like a composition than a production. Vocals are expertly woven into the soundscapes, sending the listener on a journey.
By 2015, Jennifer Lee had racked up accomplishments and accolades as one of the world’s most talented female producers. After attending the Red Bull Music Academy in London in 2010, Jennifer went on to release albums with Birdfeeder and Ultra Records before starting her own label, Young Art Records. She released her album Fovere in September of 2015, along with a tour that was set to start in November of 2015.
Lee’s battle started in December of 2015, when a previous diagnosis of a potentially life threatening disease was confirmed. Moyamoya, a disease in which the arteries feeding the brain shrink, restricting blood flow and causing blood to redirect through smaller vessels, can result in stroke, thrombosis or aneurism. If left untreated, the disease is frequently fatal.
Jennifer had two emergency surgeries in January 2016, on each side of her brain, where arteries that were feeding her scalp were laid on her brain to help rebuild the blood pathways. While the surgeries were a success, they left her without the ability to understand language or music. Her language ability came back quickly, but
Proving herself to be an unstoppable force, TOKiMONSTA was back to playing shows by the end of March 2016. She would go on to play Coachella and travel for a full tour. Her disease and recovery were unknown to fans until she opened up in a 2017 article for Pitchfork to help raise awareness for Moyamoya Disease.
This year, she’ll be playing festivals across the US, including BUKU, Bonnaroo, and Electric Forest. You can check out her full schedule HERE and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube!
*Featured Image Via Instagram @tokimonsta*