Tag Archives: Jennifer Lee

Remember TOKiMONSTA? Here’s why she is a miracle.

I love the internet. I was set to write a simple blog about how two years ago, I was driving north on Interstate 5 in California, headed to Berkeley. Paper Gods was still new, the touring cycle had just begun, and I was freaking excited to be on the road. I knew what I was going to write, the words were readily available in my head, and then I opened my browser to get to Daily Duranie.

Lately, I’ve noticed Daily Duranie has been taking longer to load (on my laptop at home). This is not a site problem, it is a “my laptop is nearly eight years old now and that means it is a complete DINOSAUR” problem. Impatient as usual, I opened Tweetdeck to see if it load properly, which it did. I scanned my timeline and saw something that caught my eye, which led me to an article on Pitchfork about TOKiMONSTA.

For those who don’t recognize the name, TOKiMONSTA was the opening act who toured with Duran Duran last summer in the US. Her real name is Jennifer Lee. Amanda and I sat and watched her a few times at the shows we attended, and while her music is very different from Duran Duran, we liked it. I can remember one show where MNDR came out onstage and sang one of her songs, which I thought was really cool.  I didn’t mind sitting and listening when she came out on stage, and I can remember making a mental note to buy some of her music when I got home. I never did, mainly because life smacked me directly in the face once I got home last summer and I completely forgot about all else in the process. Sound familiar?

So what drove me to click on the Pitchfork article then? Well, it turns out that not long before she toured with Duran last year, Jennifer had brain surgery for a very rare brain disease called Moyamoya. After her surgery, she lost the abilities to walk and talk, and couldn’t even hear music (to her it sounded like noise). So the young woman I saw on stage last summer was a walking, talking, miracle of a DJ.

Somehow, reading the article made me think back on last summer a bit.

I remember how Amanda and I watched her last summer and agreed that she was very quiet. Her music was fine, but she just didn’t address the audience too much beyond that. Reading that article today reflected a completely different side to her sets that I didn’t know existed. Those shows were a triumph for her in every way, which in turn reminds me that we never know for sure what’s really going on backstage.  Amanda and I comment all the time that we fans tend to forget that John, Roger, Nick and Simon are human. They’re not circus animals, they’re people. Turns out, that sentiment might be widespread.

“I think people sometimes forget that artists are human. We all go through really terrible things and face hardships. Being able to play Coachella three months after having the surgery was very significant to me. If I can do something like this, anyone can.” – Jennifer Lee (TOKiMONSTA)

Lune Rouge, the soon-to-be-released third album by TOKiMONSTA, is filled with songs written after her recovery. It is one I am making a note to purchase.

-R