TOKiMONSTA is back — and doing better than ever.
The seasoned Los Angeles producer, real name Jennifer Lee, has reemerged with her third full-length record after a tumultuous time in her life — she had two surgeries for a rare brain disorder called Moyamoya she was diagnosed with in 2015.
Lee penned an essay detailing her experience regaining the ability to speak as well as comprehend and make music after the surgeries, the first time she publicly addressed her health scare.
The artist, whose name translates to rabbit monster (toki means rabbit in Korean), caught up with the Daily News at Panorama over the summer to talk about her love of making beats and “Lune Rouge,” which officially drops Friday.
“In a generation where everyone is very playlist-focused, I would say that this album is a playlist of songs for one person,” Lee said. “It represents who I am right now as an artist, how I’ve progressed over the many years that have passed since the last one … I just set the intentions to make the kind of music that makes me happy.”
The new music will likely make listeners happy, too. “Lune Rouge” offers 11 hypnotising tracks suited for the likes of hip-hop and R&B collaborators Yuna, Joey Purp and Isaiah Rashad.
Lee, who has a background as a classically trained pianist, exhibits incredible technical savvy on the record, as usual. She says classical training has been helpful to her, but it’s not at all crucial for beat makers or musicians.
“In terms of structure, I think it’s helped me a lot,” she said. “At this point I’ve learned to take what I’ve found valuable in those studies and sort of ditch the stuff that I thought was unnecessary.”
After a long time on the festival circuit, Lee embarked on world tour in support of “Lune Rouge” in September. She’ll perform Oct. 12 during the Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival at House of Yes, a smaller setting — her preference.
“In an enclosed venue setting, you have more of an intimate experience with your audience,” Lee said.
The best part about being a producer for the 30-year-old LA native is the autonomy, she said.
“I get to sit in my pajamas, eat a sandwich, and make beats,” Lee said. “I don’t have to be around anyone, but I can if I want. There’s something really amazing about that. It’s really technology driven …. (and) just being able to create with very little limitations.”
Collaborations are a cornerstone for many electronic musicians, and Lee’s credits aren’t lacking. She’s longtime friends with the Grammy-nominated R&B artist Anderson .Paak, who was featured on her tracks “Put it Down” and “Raella” before his star exploded.
“We made these songs together and he just zoomed up really fast,” she said. “We have lots of music that we’ve made since (then) that isn’t out. We still have new music that potentially may come out. From day one, I was always telling him, ‘Bro, you’re gonna be so famous.”
Lee named two iconic female artists as her dream collaborations: Bjork and Missy Elliot. Lee was lucky to catch both live this summer at her hometown’s FYF Fest.
“I respect them both,” she said. “I think if I could collaborate with them it would allow me to participate in what I perceive as their amazing genius.”