Losing And Finding Music After Brain Surgery | TOKiMONSTA

(electronic music) – When I went through
the surgery for Moyamoya, I didn’t tell anyone.
(bright music) It was a very difficult time for me. (electronic music) I had to write down what would happen to all my things if I were to die. (electronic music) I think when you’re faced
with your own mortality, you wanna make sure
that you lived your life how you wanted to live it. I just wanna keep making
the most amazing music and showing people that if I
can do it, anyone can do it. (electronic music) (upbeat music) My name is Jennifer Lee,
but I’m better known as TOKiMONSTA.
♪ Show me ♪ ♪ Where the light stays ♪ ♪ Find it on the path ♪
I am a music producer and live performer DJ, and all
the songs are composed by me. Electronic music is the
music producer’s world. It is what you can do
to push the envelope. ♪ I ♪
My music is electronic. ♪ In your feelings ♪ But is has many organic
sounds, like a piano, or a violin. How you guys doing? Going a step further beyond
that is creating instruments out of non-instruments.
(“Rouge” by Tokimonsta) So something that I like to
do is use field recordings. (bright music) I take a little recorder around with me and record different kinds
of sounds that I like. (helicopter roars)
(bright music) I can use little bits of
that to create new sounds. (bright music)
(sticks click) (foot scoffs)
(bright music) (rock dings)
(bright music) They do have a really interesting tonality that is not common in music.
(bright music) This is my song, “Rose’s Thorn.” It is a track off my most
recent album, Lune Rouge. (“Rose’s Thorn” by Tokimonsta) With this track, I did use
a lot of field recordings. For the drum sounds, I
decided to use a truck door. (truck door slams) Rocks hitting each other.
(rocks click) And a regular snare drum.
(snare drum clacks) I layered them all on top of each other. Together, we have– (percussion clacks) And the great thing is when
you do stuff like that, no one else will have that sound. No one else will have a
snare-truck-door-rock sound in their song.
(upbeat percussion music) They’re unusual sounds, things that are not considered music. I recorded this wonderful beach sound.
(ocean waves gush) That like weird, bird chirping. (birds chirp) There is something to me
about creating an environment in a song, it takes you somewhere else, beyond just the song and the melodies, you’re actually removing
someone from their environment and putting them by the
sea, putting them in nature. (ocean waves gush) (bright music) I was raised in Torrance, California. I was born to an immigrant mother. My father passed away
when I was very young, so for the most part, I was
raised by a single mother who worked very hard to
kind of provide for me. So I took piano for about 10 years, and my upbringing introduced me to music. Though, I don’t think
my mom intended for me to become a musician.
(upbeat music) I remember discovering west coast hip-hop, everything about it was something that appealed to me a lot, and I flourished in that.
(upbeat music) I would start producing
once I entered college. Even though I loved hip-hop,
I had no access to rappers when I was starting out,
so the music started to become hip-hop beats but
with electronic sounds in it. No one had heard this style of music that was so much hip-hop
but was so forward thinking and electronic. I started participating in other events with other producers. And I became apart of a scene. (upbeat percussion music) That itself could almost
just be like a rap beat. The drums themselves are just so simple without anything else,
that’s why I find it. Percussion is very important. I think it creates movement.
(upbeat percussion music) Even the pianos, the main
thing is that there’s movement. (upbeat music) That bass sound is very simple. All it is is one note.
(upbeat music) Rhythm guitar.
(upbeat music) The guitar lead.
(upbeat music) They are not coming from a real guitar. I was going for a
non-realistic guitar sound. I made this song like
right after my surgery. It was one of the first
songs that I worked on. (dramatic, atmospheric music) Around 10 years ago, I
started getting migraines. One doctor suggested that I
potentially could have a disease called Moyamoya, the arteries in the left and right side that
supply blood to your brain start to shrink, and then,
so what ends up happening is stroke, aneurism, you will die. Fast forward about 10 years later, I had a strange incident where
I couldn’t feel my left foot. In the back of my head, I’ve always had that Moyamoya thing there. By January of 2015, I
had two brain surgeries a week apart from each other. (dramatic, atmospheric music) Right after the surgery,
I was tired and in pain, but I was OK. It was the recovery
process that was difficult. I would get stroke symptoms
where I couldn’t feel the entire left side of my
body and, just out of nowhere, I completely lost my ability to talk and to understand speech. And I could no longer
communicate with anyone, and one thing that I noticed
about this entire process was I couldn’t understand music anymore. It’s nothing but noise. Like an airplane flying in the sky. (airplane roars)
I couldn’t understand music, so there was no music anymore. That was very difficult for me. (uplifting music) Eventually, I noticed that
the language was getting a little better, day by day. A soundtrack was coming
back, all the music that you hear, in the
elevator, out of people’s cars, on TV–
– Understanding– – All these things were slowly
creeping back into my life, and I was elated.
(bright music) – Hi.
– Hey. You look good.
– How’s it going? – [Tokimonsta] Good. – [Ioanna] What are you doing today? – So this is what I have up right now. These are all from the same take, but I had to mix them all differently ’cause depending on what note you sing, those frequencies would jump out more. When I went to open my
computer to be like, “OK, this is the time,
it’s my time to shine. “I’m gonna try making a new song.” It was awful, it was garbage,
it didn’t sound good at all. I didn’t know how to make music anymore. I figured if everything else came back, this would come back.
– Let’s try re-recording one of your leads for our song. – Cool.
– And see if we can like breathe in some new life.
– Sounds good. – I’m gonna start from the–
– People think I had to relearn how to make music;
I didn’t have to relearn it. I just had to wait for it to come back. – [Ioanna] But I’ll
play like a couple bars before it goes in.
– Fast forward just like a week or two
weeks, I was able to make the very first song that ended
up on my most recent album. Cool! That was great.
– Cool! – What a great recording. Another element of the song
are these little vocal samples. They are not words, they
don’t mean anything. It’s just effects. (singers scat) It is having the beauty of a person’s voice without them distracting you with words, and these songs essentially
make themselves. And, even I’m surprised at
the end how they come to feel. Like I had no idea I’d end
up making a song like this. For me, as a musician,
I always wanna innovate. I don’t wanna be making
the same type of music as everyone else, ’cause
then, why would people need to listen to my music?
(“Rose’s Thorn” by Tokimonsta) After the brain surgery,
the one thing that changed was my philosophical approach. Once you’re faced with the
fact that you might die, you realize, I don’t wanna live my life for anyone else but myself. I wanna be the kind of artist
that creates her own vision for herself, no matter
what it is that I do. And I wanna know that each
day I live, I feel fulfilled. (“Rose’s Thorn” by Tokimonsta)

100 Replies to “Losing And Finding Music After Brain Surgery | TOKiMONSTA”

  1. Minvox says:

    Umm… props to the editor!! the visuals were stunning!
    I like to think of what a deaf person would want to visualize if someone else was listening…
    These graphics are very complimentary to the sounds…
    She's good too… heard her before, didn't know who she was… now I do. Good story!

  2. Jake Hughes says:

    glasses game on 1,00000000000

  3. Baka Ne says:

    She has been doing this for seven years and "We are your Friends" came out in 2015 so I guess they took some sort of inspiration as it clearly depicts the same things from the way she produces music OR maybe it's just a coincidence… Interesting regardless!

  4. Erica Google says:

    i'm a full time dance kid, now at home with a partially dislocation knee injury, while everyone else dances in school. I think I understand the philosophy of wanting to live for yourself and not others.

  5. Sev Reyes says:

    her music is perfect to get high, tbh

  6. Saerah says:

    So beautiful

  7. Ryan says:

    wow tokimonsta knows how to collab with nature!

  8. TarePanda says:

    Lmao i lost it when they showed her hitting two sticks together

  9. Khalilah G says:

    5:28 DANM sisgot me high on this beat!!!

  10. TheKevinpascal100 says:


  11. David Ng says:

    whoever made the visuals at 9:15 is a pure genius

  12. UnchartedLizard says:

    Bro the yellow sunglasses! Where?

  13. NepalCode TV says:

    better than mumble rap

  14. NAMGUNGSSI says:

    everyone get familiar. she bad boi

  15. David Ng says:

    Why is the original Song thorn roses missing the vocal parts? This Version is way better

  16. Jay The Soulist says:


  17. Ramon Solorio says:

    She’s amazing.

  18. Raffi Marhaba says:

    She's so fucking talented! Love her music, powerful stuff

  19. Mayamiko Tutu says:

    Great video

  20. Alice Madness says:

    Hella awesome. Proud of her talent that is so unique!

  21. loosingmymemory7 says:

    I used to use a tape recorder and then sample from that and then use the standard tracker programs to play the samples and use the effects built into them. Now all of it is visual, much easier. You can literally drag a mouse across a screen and make masterpieces, sometimes by accident, sometimes not. It still is the way for people to get into making music without massively expensive equipment, but the programs that organize and play those samples still remain oddly illusive and censored.

  22. Magiculate says:

    TOKiMONSTA is a legend in my book.

  23. Magiculate says:

    Lookup "Little Pleasures" and "Gamble" by TOKiMONSTA. There are many other good songs but these are some of my favorites from her.

  24. Chad Cona says:

    Always loved her music great to hear the story behind it all. +1 for the T Rex poster!

  25. W says:

    But yet she uses fucking beats. God our American music culture is so mislead. I love synth and keyboards and real instrument but please did the love of god none of these artists ever have real headphones.

  26. A A says:

    Everyone in the comment section is lame for not knowing her until now.

  27. Wallace1222 says:

    love Tokimonsta

  28. Breeanna Mendiola says:


  29. CURT_iS says:

    i find it dank AF that I heard her stuff for so loooooooong but never bothered to look her up IRL… TBH straight up didn't even know it was a women behind the dope ass music i was hearing (gender doesn't even matter)… so to finally put a face to some of the absolute bangers music that i remember fondly listening to when i was young just randomly browsing thru soundcloud. its straight up refreshing and holy shiii… that production style.

  30. Clay P says:

    idc what yall say i love her glasses

  31. TooManyDoc says:

    This is why the creative process is always fascinating.

  32. existextinct says:

    do moar drugs

  33. YouToob says:

    2:37 Those don't sound like rocks hiting each other doe….

  34. Ghoulifyed says:

    I love TOKiMONSTA 💞🇯🇵

  35. Magen Flowers says:

    Anybody know what recording device she was using?

  36. mr559 says:

    1st Tokimonsta song I ever heard, her remix of Shing02 – Big City Lights. And then it was listening to her album Midnight Menu. She has quite a few songs with Anderson .Paak and she always have good artists feature on her albums.

  37. GoShiggyGo says:

    Great graphics used on this video

  38. strizzyl says:

    Her music sound like an IBM blockchain commercial

  39. Arielle Duran says:

    I love this woman so much I was holding back tears by the end of this video

  40. Ikscdm Degi says:

    Who the fok is tiktokmoster?

  41. Zyborgg says:

    What is the song at 4:20 ?

  42. Grethe Victor Bravo says:

    Shes really cool! I love her! Tokimonsta is blessed to recover after her brain surgery

  43. Isaac Diaz says:

    maybe I should get brain surgery and make music

  44. saturn *:・゚ says:

    There are some people that are just… born to make music.

  45. TheRealNicholeta says:

    Makes me want to relisten to all her albums again

  46. Denver Nugoats says:

    yo how sweet are her frames

  47. John Chisholm says:

    Music is a place – Philip Glass

  48. BTS makes me smile like an idiot says:

    I need to go check her out now because the music im hearing is just incredible💜

  49. BTS makes me smile like an idiot says:

    I just realized i haven't Subscribed to this channel😮 but I've been watching there videos for a long time now??? Well I'ma go subscribe now:)

  50. Wise One says:

    …I did not know Tokimonsta was a total babe! 😍💕LOL

    Inspirational story though. Her music, and whole process is amazing as well.
    Wish her the best.

  51. TheRhinoGamer 2 says:

    I think she may need another one.

  52. SmolSquishyTaeil says:

    I'm sorry that you went through that. As someone who really feels passionate about something great then amazing.

  53. Richard Nguyen says:

    Saw her in December and she absolutely killed it!!!

  54. Lucien Chan says:

    hella inspirational

  55. quangluu96 says:

    Love her style actually. Gonna check her work.

  56. los Angeles says:

    I love her she’s so intellectual. Thanks for sharing your story Tokimonsta. Your truly an inspiration.

  57. VICARIUS says:

    You inspire me, thank you TOKiMONSTA. You truly are an extraordinary human being. May the Universe bestow you with superior bliss for eternity 🙂

  58. psyychtv says:

    This was exactly what I needed. Thank you.

  59. Bassed Ginger says:


  60. Chloe Millay says:

    what software does she use

  61. Kris Owens says:

    check out "Clean Slate"

  62. illhey says:

    This made me cry

  63. adamadenan says:

    been listening to her songs for the ages but never heard her personal stories like this. Many of us have near-death experiences that maybe drive us to be more persistent than ever. So for people that never have near-death experiences, do not wait until that happens to you! Let's rock!

  64. Zulaigah Hendricks says:

    Her music is so beautiful

  65. shouldbe alias says:

    Much creative very wow such pioneer many unique

  66. amar_ sm says:

    Those are cool Pair of glasses what's the brand?

  67. Tapmig says:

    everyone listen to her music

  68. MK VANG says:

    Good story

  69. Joangely Rosario says:

    The animation that these sounds made in the video helped me so much with distinguishing the sounds, like the guitar, piano, and drums. Without the visuals, I wouldn't be able to distinguish the guitar.

  70. Happy Comfort says:

    Awesome! Reminds me of some of the music on ChilledCow. Love it!

  71. Juan Pablo Telleria says:

    As a music producer myself i can tell you that taking a field recorder and reording sounds of the world is bullshit and completely unnecesary. We just use splice.com or sample packs

  72. Atlantis says:

    i love tokimonsta so much ♡

  73. Tojo says:

    "I couldn't understand music, so there was no music anymore" that's powerful

  74. Parker says:

    I saw her in concert :/ one of the worst performances I’ve seen 😭 but cool story

  75. Petals and Skulls says:

    Always loved her. It's so exciting to see what she has up her sleeve & her evolution throughout the years. I wouldn't have listened to Anderson Paak if it weren't for her. I hope I have the chance to see her again & that she features many more talents. ❤

  76. Grim Reaper says:

    good story, but i still prefer nekomata master, xi, t+pazolite, camellia, lapix mostly from rhythm arcade game.

  77. Sir Raulo says:

    cool music bro!!! 😍

  78. Laura McDaniel says:

    Beautiful! I love your style!

  79. Robert Jazz says:

    Darkest dim is one of my favorites from her she is such a talented artist! I didn't know her story till now.

  80. Andy Hew says:

    Thanks GBS for this interview, I've always loved this hip-hop/electric genre.

  81. Mark Lepka says:

    I am actually going to get brain surgery on the 27th

  82. Esin Çalcalı says:


  83. UroborosJayThink says:

    Amazing video

  84. carlo vincent says:

    She should not be giving away her process. Just my opinion.

  85. Molecular Man says:

    What Microphone Shield is she using on her Roland R-07 recorder 1:44 ?

  86. I.G. O.M. says:

    I aint even know she went through all of that. The first time I heard Tokimonsta was about 6 years ago when she remixed Freakin You by Jodeci. Glad to hear she's fine and doing great.

  87. Anna C. Sahlstrom says:

    Her music is wonderful and I wish her the best of health. Brain conditions are very scary.

  88. True Night says:

    no way!!!!!!

  89. 90X Vision says:

    She's awesome

  90. Luz Moran says:

    I saw her in the Netflix documentary Explained in the episode called “Music” where she talked a lot about how she survived the Moya Moya brain disease. She is so brave and I respect that. 👏🏻❤️

  91. Jack Lloyd says:

    I would let this chick dominate me

  92. Mother of Ghosts says:

    I wonder when exactly that happed?

  93. Gilberto Saldana says:

    damn. does anyone know the name of the shades she is wearing at the beach????

  94. Sergio Jesús Juárez Aragón says:

    DJ's-you can´t make music from a door
    Jennifer-hold my snare

  95. julie says:

    LOOOOOOOOVE the music! Even greater story! Thank you Great Big Story. Will look her up now. <3

  96. cdluten says:

    Been listening to her for a few years and Rose's Thorn brought me here..had no idea about Moyamoya.
    All I know is thank you.. Thank you

  97. Tyra Sloan-Favara says:

    Just watched her story on Netflix. AMAZING STORY♥️🎵🎶

  98. phoenixsprite says:

    I came here after watching Netflix. I actually undergone the same surgery Jen went through about three weeks ago, because I have the same disease. I was actually avoiding the episode because I'm currently tone deaf. It gave me hope to hear that her hearing back. I had almost given up on music, you take so many things for granted, I look forward to listening to this song again once my hearing is 100%. I'm also grateful for her for sharing her story, our disease is not well known so this is a form of awareness. A lot of the feelings she expressed here I can identify with.

  99. Mr Heru says:

    Even mayonnaise is an instrument ….

  100. Manny Tang says:

    I've been a fan, love, love, love her!!! <3 Damn talented.

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