Pitchfork broke the story this week about TOKiMONSTA‘s struggle the last two years undergoing two brain surgeries which resulted in the loss of her ability to talk, walk, and make music – three months later she was already performing at Coachella. She gave the interview she gave announcing her new album, Lune Rouge, which is comprised entirely of tracks she made after regaining her musical abilities. The story is stranger than fiction and utterly impossible to comprehend on an empathetic level – Jennifer Lee aka TOKi was diagnosed with a rare brain disease called Moyamoya, which is potentially fatal. She underwent two surgeries within a week, and the result was a metaphorical crash of her mental hard drive.
“The whole month of February , I tried to acclimate myself to my life again,” she recalls. “The most difficult thing was trying to work on music. I opened Ableton and I couldn’t understand what I was doing, even though at that point my speech was at 90 percent. I tried to make music and it was just garbage. The part of my brain that knew how to put sounds together was broken. I didn’t understand why it didn’t make sense anymore. When you make music, so much of it is intuitive and natural. I could always put sounds together, play a little ditty on the piano. I never had to think about doing it. And then I’m there in front of my computer going, ‘I don’t understand if this is a good sound or a bad sound. I don’t know if I’m playing a melody.’ I didn’t want to pity myself, but it was a heart-wrenching pain. So I stopped. I gave myself room to recuperate. I maintained hope that my ability to create music would come back. I’m glad I did, because I think if I had pushed myself I would never have found the music again.”
No release date has yet been announced for her forthcoming album Lune Rouge, but you can watch the video for her single with Yuna “Don’t Call Me” above and hear her collab with Joey Purp, Isaiah Rashad, and Ambré “No Way” below. Read the fascinating, inspiring story told be TOKIiMONSTA herself here.