I’ve always wondered what growing up in California would be like. Maybe it’s the whole Southern Hemisphere mindset that the grass is always greener, or just that I have a wild imagination. Chatting with producer TOKiMONSTA, she confirms my assumptions that, thanks to Cali’s sun-kissed climate, its “it’s easy to get into trouble there all year round.” Down here, our own summer is getting into gear: festivals are kicking off and a host of international artists, like TOKiMONSTA, are in town again again. She’s down here (on her second visit in six months) for New Year’s Day’s Let Them Eat Cake festival, and we thought we’d take the chance to get to know her even more.
We’ve described you to our readers many times now. How would you describe yourself?
Umm, I’m not sure how to describe myself. I guess the same goes for my music – not sure how to describe it. Hopefully, both my music and I give off good vibes.
You make electronic music, but it seems to appeal to a lot of different people. How does it feel being a part of that?
It’s amazing how open-minded people have become within the years I’ve been making music. I definitely hear a lot less of “Your music is weird” than I used to.
The EDM scene is quite male-dominated, but this is something you’ve overcome. Do you feel like you had to consciously make an effort to do so?
I just wanted to make electronic music. The circumstances surrounding this desire is just something I accepted and didn’t really think about much. I think the press made me more aware of this “male-dominated” characteristic about electronic music because I never really felt I needed to pay much attention to it.
You’ve mentioned before that before this became your career, pursuing it seemed really unattainable. Any words of wisdom for those who still think it’s unattainable for them?
As hard as it may seem, especially if you’re the ‘realistic’ type like me, you should just go for something if you love it. I can’t imagine the life of regret I would have lived if I didn’t give music a chance.
I know your mum thought that it was a questionable career choice seeing as she got you playing classical piano originally. Is she on your side now?
It’s hard to say if she’s on my side 100%, but she definitely doesn’t disapprove, and I think she’s kind of proud of me now.
Your tour schedule is crazy. What’s touring so regularly like?
Exhausting. I can’t really handle touring very regularly because it keeps me from making music, which I need to continue touring. (It’s a weird cycle). Anytime I go on tour, I give myself some time off to work on music and stay stationary.
Do you ever wake up and think ‘Fuck tonight – I can’t do it’?
Having people to come specifically to venues and festivals to see you is obviously pretty amazing. Do you still get nervous about playing new things?
I don’t get nervous much anymore, but when certain elements change, I get a little apprehensive. For example, if I play for young kids, during the day, or for a charity. I guess this shows what kind of gigs I play.
And what’s it like when you get that good response?
It’s exhilarating and satisfying.
Is your music-making process tied in with how you’re feeling at the time? Centred on something personal or simply based on how it sounds?
It depends. If I am feeling something, the music will tie into that feeling. On the other hand, sometimes it doesn’t – so I guess there are no definitive way my music comes together.
Lastly, you’ve played in ACCLAIM’s home city of Melbourne a couple of times now. How do we come up as an audience?
I fucking love Melbourne! Definitely one of my favorite cities ever. The shows are always good, people are good, the food is good – there’s not much more I need from a place.
You can catch TOKiMONSTA at Let Them Eat Cake Festival on January 1, 2014 – get tickets online.