Los Angeles producer Jennifer Lee, aka TOKiMONSTA, recently made her way back to Manila to perform her electrifying beats in front of hundreds of fans at XX XX.
Before the show, Lee sat down with several industry professionals, aspiring musicians and producers, and media folk, to talk about her experiences as a producer and the insights she gained throughout the years since she debuted in 2010.
Hosted by Red Bull Music Academy, A Conversation with TOKiMONSTA had the RBMA alumna delighted in the opportunity to answer questions from those present at the event and enable them to treat her words as a sort of "short-cut to evolve yourself more as human beings", just as she had been able to boost her own perspective by listening to the stories of her industry idols and mentors when she was still starting out.
Lee spoke about her creative process and the vulnerability it involves to produce songs that are unique and true to your self, how resilience has played an important role in her overcoming challenges and enabling herself to keep moving forward, and at the same time, how vital it was to one's integrity as an artist to learn how to put your foot down in the face of adversity and be comfortable enough in yourself to hear your own voice and make that voice heard.
Here are some of our favourite quotes from the night:
On promoting your work
You have to learn to be comfortable with yourself, because what are you going to do with all this music if no one can hear it?"
On being an Asian woman in the urban music scene
Even though I don’t set out to be an example, as an Asian female, I want to show that I’m making decisions and that all the issues I have faced in the past, I'm going to strive towards not making them an issue for you guys. I don't want to be rare. I don't want to be the only Asian female here. I want to be normal. I want more people like me to make music on the same level as everyone else.”
On recovering from her battle with a rare neurological disease
When I started going back out and playing shows, the most challenging part was not the physical part, but the more emotional and mental part. I had isolated myself from everyone for two months. I had social anxiety. I couldn’t stay out for a long time. I became very sensitive. To go from not seeing everyone for a while, to a very traumatic experience, to playing in front of 20,000 people at Coachella, it’s quite a big chasm to cross.
But I had time. And I regained that confidence and allowed myself to heal emotionally. It wasn't the easiest, but if I can make it through that, you all can make it through anything.”
On touring with her music to different parts of the world
You’re making the music as an expression of yourself and your own creativity. And it’s very vulnerable. You’re sharing some part of yourself that’s expressive. When you go to different countries and you see that people are resonating with your music, that means they resonate with a very deep side of you. I’m really humbled by it. And I get to see people also enjoy the music that I make and the shows that I perform. It’s a shared experience by all these different cultures. You start to see this commonality between everyone.”
On what she hopes people get from listening to her music
I do hope that whenever people listen and come to my shows, they understand my intentions for the experience, not my intentions for them as individuals, where there’s this sense of relating to each other, that we can understand the feeling and emotions in the music. What’s meant to be more sensitive or hyper, you can understand that those were the moods that I was in. I want the music to be cathartic for myself and I want to share it with you, in case that it might bring you some peace.
When I perform, I don't perform for you guys, but WITH you guys. We’re going to have an experience together that’s shared. At the end of the day, we’ll know that we went through a whole trip together and experience that together, whatever that feeling was. These are all unique experiences and there’s no way I’m going to recreate the experience that I’m going to have tonight. The experience that we'll have in Manila, that is just for you guys.”
Check out our photos of the unique experience TOKiMONSTA created with her fans in Manila:
Thanks to Red Bull, Centaur Marketing, and XX XX for inviting us to join A Conversation with TOKiMONSTA in Manila.