Rabbit Heartbeats – Tokimonsta

von Lev Nordstrom

Toki ist Koreanisch für Hase. Und Monsta? Naja, Monster, Hasenmonster eben. In L.A. aufgewachsen, gegen ihren Willen ans Klavier gesetzt, vom Gangsta Rap korrumpiert und schließlich als erste weibliche Produzentin auf dem Brainfeeder Label von Flying Lotus gesignt. Innerhalb einer eng verwobenen, jungen Generation Kalifornischer Beat-Visionäre, ist TOKiMONSTA mit ihren bewusstseinserweiternden Remixen und Kompositionen zu einem zierlichen Schwergewicht mit kosmisch ausuferndem Potenzial mutiert. Dein Herz schlägt schneller, kriegst du ihre Infusion, deine Boxen brennen durch, hörst du ihre Produktion. Dabei sieht sie gar nicht so aus. Hasenmonster eben.

What are you going to be playing tonight?

I’m predominantly going to be playing live. I’m a shit DJ, when it comes to vinyl, but I’m competent at what I’m doing live.

Tell me a little bit about your musical upbringing.

I was classically trained, by force. My parents made me take piano lessons. Growing up in a suburban beach kind of neighborhood, everybody used to listen to Pop-Punk. It’s not real Punk, it’s like listening to Green Day. But I quickly moved into Gangsta Rap. I don’t know what it was. I think it was just so unconventional, it was different. This whole culture was so amazing to me.

Breathe on my Contacts by TOKiMONSTA

But you never came home rapping, did you?

Oh I used to come home rapping, but I wasn’t a gangsta. I just looked like this funny little Asian girl rapping Westside Connection lyrics, or Coolio and N.W.A. and stuff. I still like Rock and Classical music, everything from Bossa Nova to Free Jazz and old experimental Krautrock. But to be honest I think Hip Hop is something I relate to the most.

You were the first female artist signed to Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder label. In the domain of Hip Hop, were there many prejudices that you had to overcome?

When I first came out and I was 19 years old, I started playing beats in public at beat battles that were very male dominated. I feel the Beats scene that we have going on is a little more forgiving, more open-minded, very mixed. But the Hip Hop scene in L.A. was very hard. You come into a place like Project Blowed, you want to drop some beats and they look at you like ‘yeah, whatever’. I earned my way through it and I feel as though I actually worked my way through the ranks. I wasn’t just some byproduct of weird boyfriends. People in L.A. respect that.

What is it about Hip Hop that provides you with so much freedom to create?

Unconsciously, a lot of genres of Pop music are spurred from Hip Hop, but Hip Hop in itself is not unique. It came from Soul and Jazz and even that came from old Blues music. Hip Hop is mostly about the beat. The beat is what drives Hip Hop. It’s very oriented around the drums. I like percussive things, which may even lead back to my roots, my Korean heritage, which is a very percussive culture. In Hip Hop there is so much room left for instrumentation that it’s very fusion friendly and workable with.

Why is it that a lot of your tracks don’t have any lyrics?

I don’t like working with MC’s, unless they’re really going to add some kind of flavor to the song. Instrumental Hip Hop is a result of a lot of us producers not enjoying our time with rappers. In the past, the producer was nobody without the rapper. You had to rely on the rapper a lot, but often they’re not easy to work with. A lot of my good friends are rappers, but even they know they’re not easy to work with. I really like working with singers and vocals. It’s a way for me to use my music theory, by creating melodies that encapsulate those vocals.

Would you describe your music as Psychedelic Hip Hop?

Nobody wants to give his art form a title. If you give it a title it will become dated. It’s like what happens, when you call something Dubstep and all of a sudden Dubstep isn’t cool anymore. All of us have been trying to avoid the gentrification of our music except for calling it Beats. But now the term Beats has come to represent a sound, thus turning that word into a genre itself. So I like to go back to my influences and say it’s kind of Soul, Hip Hop, Electronica and Psychedelic. So then you have four things to work with. Plus, my new album will have Bossa Nova elements in it.

Who’s someone you would love to do a remix for?

If it was official it would be Wu-Tang. If I could get a Wu-Tang remix, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, even just one of them, I think I’d be happy with myself.

Is it a big thing for you to leave the US and come play in Europe?

Coming out here is more like a mission to conquer. Never having been in Germany before of course I’m a little bit apprehensive. But this time I’m touring with Daedelus. He’s toured almost every city in every country you can imagine. He’s been to Berlin before so he knows the scene and knows where to get the Currywurst.

You don’t seem nervous at all. I think you’re on in about ten minutes.

Oh crap.

Now you’re nervous.

I’m not, I’m just thinking that I have to got to the bathroom before I go on, or else I’m going to have to hold it during my whole set.


Creature Dreams EP ab 17.05. auf Brainfeeder erhältlich


Lev Nordstrom

Lev Nordstrom

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