Making one of her first live appearances since revealing her battle with Moyamoya, a rare neurovascular disease that required two brain surgeries and left her temporarily unable to speak or walk, Jennifer Lee, aka Tokimonsta, took the stage at Holocene on Sept. 15 to prove it's possible to be both small and mighty in the EDM world.
Referring to her extensive palette as "EDM" may even qualify as a mistake at this point, considering her voracious appetite for genres and textures, which found the Brainfeeder producer gradually settling into a groove that involve rapid oscillation between the experimental hip-hop her label is known for and fluorescent, festival-ready electro anthems. Armed with a modest lighting rig and a folding table's worth of mixing hardware, Lee deserves props for not leaving the audience hanging with a barrage of unfamiliar cuts from her forthcoming record Lune Rouge, though purists may have bristled at her bookending clumps of newer tracks with megahits like Drake and Future's "Jumpman" and Kendrick Lamar's "Alright." She pulled out all the stops on a frenetic encore that functioned as a futurist's homage to four-on-the-floor house music, but the conclusion of her first set, with the Anderson Paak-led 2016 single "Put It Down," felt like the most proper statement of Lee's intent for the evening.
In the years leading up to the current EDM boom, the joy and promise of electronic music has been its elasticity, allowing its purveyors to push boundaries by throwing whatever pleases them into the mix. In the case of Tokimonsta, her career up to this point has been defined by electrifying mixes rooted in pop, experimental hip-hop and just the right dose of marquee guests stars—a formula she's constantly bending to suit her will in a way that's both crowd-pleasing for the casuals and exciting for the critics who've grown tired of the soulless genre-trotting that's been trending on Soundcloud and in clubs for the past decade. Lee's music is bright and ecstatic, and her future is likely to follow suit.
All photos by Sofie Murray.