After dealing with a brain disease that could have cost her career, DJ Jennifer Lee is back and better than ever.
When DJ and electronic music producer Jennifer Lee, better known as TOKiMONSTA, broke news last fall about losing her abilities to speak and hear music due to a rare brain disease, she thought that could’ve been the end of her music career.
In response, Lee put out Lune Rouge last year, an album she says is her most personal piece of work to date: “This album isn’t going to be made to satisfy the needs of an industry or the needs of a trend. I’m just going to make songs that make me happy … It might not be as obvious, but each of these beats — all these songs I put together — tell a story.”
This past weekend, TOKiMONSTA played two sold-out nights at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles opening for acclaimed house musician and singer ZHU on his Dune Tour 2018 — and her live energy and joy for performing was felt across the room.
As her name projected in lights behind her, Lee’s atmospheric beats, full of pretty orchestra strings, a rock guitar and catchy bass lines, put the room into a daze as she took to the stage with “Rouge.”
“LA, how you feeling?” she said to the crowd with a big smile.
Mentioning LA as her hometown, she went on to play a mesmerizing blend of pop hits, hip-hop beats and electronic tunes. From “We Love” featuring vocals from MNDR to samples of Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On,” TOKiMONSTA’s set was both exciting and upbeat, mixing pop tunes old and new.
Her album’s heartbreak anthem “Don’t Call Me” featuring Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna — my personal favorite — was a cathartic moment, as the catchy orchestral beats and pop chorus about telling off a love worked well among the crowd settling in. Further into her set, she amped up the heavier hip-hop as she sampled Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” and “Humble,” and even vibed to one of her classic hip-hop singles “Realla” with vocals from Anderson .Paak and her signature TOKi-style electro.
TOKiMONSTA, who is well-known for her signature electronic beats tinged with a hint of glossy melancholy, echoey beats, strings and textured pop, is a strong force in the electronic world. As an Asian-American female DJ, her music has the ability to transcend — oft infusing Asian-inspired elements and the traditional Korean gayageum strings in her music.
Her newest collaboration, “Light It Up” with ZHU, is featured on ZHU’s latest release Ringo’s Desert — in time for the Dune Tour — and perfectly highlights both of the artists’ knack for tight electronics, synth voicing and ZHU’s classic house.
Be sure to catch her on tour opening for ZHU this fall (click here for tickets):
Sept. 7 – Chico, CA – El Rey Theatre
Sept. 14 – Los Angeles, CA – The Shrine
Sept. 15 – Los Angeles, CA – The Shrine
Sept. 16 – Phoenix, AZ – The Van Buren
Sept. 18 – Dallas, TX – Bomb Factory
Sept. 19 – Austin, TX – Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater
Sept. 20 – Houston, TX – Warehouse Live
Sept. 24 – Washington, DC – Echostage
Sept. 25 – Philadelphia, PA – Electric Factory
Sept. 27 – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Steel
Sept. 28 – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Steel
Sept. 30 -Boston, MA – House Of Blues
Oct. 2 – Montreal, QC – New Gas City
Oct. 3 – Toronto, ON – Rebel
Oct. 9 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
Oct. 13 – Calgary, AB -The Palace Theatre
Oct. 15 – Vancouver, BC – Vogue Theatre
Oct. 16 – Seattle, WA – Paramount Ballroom
Oct. 17- Portland, OR – Roseland Theater
Oct. 20 – Las Vegas, NV – The Pearl
Oct. 22 – San Diego, CA – The Observatory North Park
Oct. 23 – Tucson, AZ – Rialto Theatre
Oct. 26 – Morrison, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheater
This article is featured on Blurred Culture.