HALF SHADOWS reflects the multiple faces of TOKiMONSTA. The Los Angeles based artist and producer, otherwise known as Jennifer Lee, traverses a few different spheres on her new full length album. Sonically, she alchemically mingles ethereal electronic moods, while adding R&B flavor and the right amount of hiphop bounce. The thirteen songs comprising Half Shadows reveal a detailed story.
2012 saw her commence work on what would eventually become her debut for Ultra Music. As the first female to join Flying Lotus’ crew and label, BRAINFEEDER, she garnered a fervent following within the Los Angeles scene and beyond. Worldwide tastemakers from BBC Radio1, NPR and KCRW to DJ Mag, Pitchfork, The Guardian, MTV, Rolling Stone and SPIN featured her.
Additionally, she was dubbed the “#1 Female DJ in Los Angeles” by LA Weekly. This past year saw her as a featured performer on the Full Flex Express Canadian train tour with Skrillex and Diplo as well as the inaugural SS Coachella music festival cruise. However, HALF SHADOWS opens up her world like never before.
The record flows from beginning to end, following an emotional trajectory. “It brings you somewhere else,” affirms Lee. “Everything begins in this strange, dark place. It goes into a more upbeat, uplifting feeling. It winds down into a more meditative state. You’ll feel like you’ve been on an epic Tolkienesque journey.”
In order to capture that myriad of feelings, she enlisted a diverse array of voices including L.A singer-songwriter Gavin Turek, British songstress Andreya Triana, and upandcoming Chicago soul troubadour Jesse Boykins III.
On the first single, “The Force,” she teams up with rap legend Kool Keith for a wild trip beyond this galaxy.
“He brought me a Dr. Octagon style verse, which is more than I could have expected,” she smiles. “He’s a genius, and it was amazing to work with him. Lyrically, this track is scifi rap. There’s a visual of riding around in a space benz and saying, ‘Fuck the galactic police.'”
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the shimmering and blissful “Go With It.” Over an entrancing soundscape, MNDR’s hypnotic delivery resounds potently. “It’s about going with the flow,” Lee reveals. “I’m going to take your hand, so just trust me, and roll with it. You’ve got to relax sometimes and put your trust and instincts in something or someone else. I’ve never made a song like this.”
There’s nothing quite like TOKiMONSTA‘s sound either. In a day and age, when electronic music is synonymous with the dance floor, she approaches it from a different angle.
“It doesn’t always have to be aggressive and party hardy,” she insists. “I’m outside of that. There’s a different side of electronic music.”
The album title also holds a special place in Lee’s heart. Plucked from the Haruki Murakami book, Kafka on the Shore, it resembles her approach to art. She explains, “In the book, they use the term HALF SHADOWS. It’s the idea that people walk around with light shadows because they’re half in the spiritual world and half in reality. Some part of them isn’t here.That really resonated with me.”
Ultimately, TOKiMONSTA is welcoming everybody on this otherworldly ride with her. “I wanted this to be a musical odyssey. You leave this planet, and then the music gently places you back on earth.”