Los Angeles producer and DJ TOKiMONSTA, a.k.a. Jennifer Lee, surprised many when she moved from Brainfeeder to Ultra Records for the release of her album Half Shadows last year. For her next project, the seven-song Desiderium, she makes another label jump, this time to her own imprint, Young Art Records. TOKiMONSTA has already dropped a couple of tracks from her upcoming release, first the slow-churning "Realla" followed by the warm bass celebration of "Steal My Attention." Today she's got "Drive," whose rhythm patters and slinks around the voice of New York rock and soul singer Arama before dropping down and rummaging around the low end for the lighthearted but determined "I'mma keep it movin'" chorus. We spoke to her over email before the premiere.
Your upcoming album is called Desiderium (a longing for something lost), which is a pretty bleak name. Why did you choose it?
I think everyone desires for things that they had at one point, a lost love, a lost experience, etc. For me, I don't take this as bleakness. The longing can lead to actually rediscovering something. For me, this album is me rediscovering my roots making beats.
Tell us about the meaning behind "Drive" and creating it.
I really just wanted to create a song that had soul, but is is also light natured. So many songs these days have this pretense of being super serious, super weird, super extravagant. "Drive" reminds me of the songs I grew up listening to—the ones I could dedicate to a person or an experience.
How did you and Arama come to collaborate?
Arama and I linked up through MNDR. She said Arama would be amazing for me to work with, and she really was!
You've moved from Brainfeeder to Ultra, and now this next one is coming out on your own imprint, Young Art Records. Why the jump?
I don't feel married to any labels—they're just a means for me to release music to different audiences. Brainfeeder is forever my family, Ultra was really supportive of my own thing on my record for them, and my own label just seems like the appropriate choice after releasing with so many different labels. I plan to develop my label more so that I'll be able to create a jumping off point for other emerging artists.
Will you be putting out other artists' releases on your imprint?
Without a doubt. It's what I'm the most excited about.
You've called L.A. a close-knit music community in the past. Does that still hold true?
Yes, I still think we are a close-knit community. Everyone is always supportive of each other, and that's why I think L.A. is still on the forefront of music.
Desiderium is out Sept. 23, and peep her tour dates below:
September 20 @ Velvet Jones - Santa Barbara, CA
September 21 @ Catalyst - Santa Cruz, CA
September 24 @ The Imperial - Vancouver, Canada
September 25 @ Decibel Festival - Seattle, WA
September 26 @ Tomorrow World - Chattahoochee Hills, GA
September 28 @ The Orange Peel - Asheville, NC
October 1 @ Rock N Roll Hotel - Washington, DC
October 2 @ Union Transfer - Philadelphia, PA
October 3 @ T.T. The Bear's Place - Boston, MA
October 4 @ Le Poisson Rouge - New York, NY
October 6 @ Studio at Waiting Room - Buffalo, NY
October 7 @ Showcase Lounge - South Burlington, VT
October 8 @ La Vitrola - Montreal, Canada
October 9 @ Drake Hotel, Toronto, Canada
October 10 @ Bottom Lounge - Chicago, IL