Cover Photo Credit: TOKiMONSTA Facebook
Shaky Beats Festival will be taking place in Atlanta, Georgia this May. It is a three-day festival that caters mostly to the electronic music crowd. Out of the 49 names listed on the lineup, there are just two females on the bill. TOKiMONSTA and Bonnie (from Bonnie x Clyde) are the only two women to be included on the Shaky Beats roster. Last year Alison Wonderland graced the main stage along with performances by Rezz, Mija, and Little Dragon. While the number is not huge, it is a much bigger showing than this year.
This is a major problem that affects music festivals all over the world. In 2016, just 17% of headliners at international festivals were women. In light of this, Smirnoff launched “Equalising Music,” a three-year initiative to help elevate female performers into the positions they have rightfully earned. This year they are working with festivals like Snowbombing, Lost Village, and Printworks to help lessen the gender parity in music.
While I wish we could have seen Shaky Beats take on the initiative this year, all we can do is support the ladies we do have in the lineup and hope that next year we can see a change. This year, TOKiMONSTA will be the only female solo artist to take the stage at Shaky Beats.
TOKiMONSTA Beats the Odds
Creating an album is no easy task. For many artists, it is an extreme labour of love that requires a lot of time and energy to complete. It can seem nearly impossible when you lose your ability to understand language or music. At the beginning of 2016, California producer Jennifer Lee, also known as TOKiMONSTA, underwent two brain surgeries that forced her to relearn to walk, talk, and make music. You can read her journey in her own words here.
It was not easy, but after her surgery, she was not only back to making music but performing just months after. That April she performed at both SXSW and Coachella, becoming an inspiration to many.
In her own words, “We all go through really terrible things and face hardships. Being able to play Coachella three months after having the surgery was very significant to me. If I can do something like this, anyone can.”
After giving herself a break to heal, she went back into the studio. “I Wish I Could” was one of the first songs she made post operation. The song, featuring Belgian soul singer-songwriter Selah Sue is filled with deeply meaningful lyrics and melodies that connect the audience in a personal way to both Sue and Lee.
From there she went to make another full album, Lune Rouge. The creation of it was a completely cathartic process for the producer. All the beats string together to tell the inspiring story of her recovery and journey back into music.
Before she was diagnosed, Lee debuted her first album, Midnight Menu, back in 2010 on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder imprint. She was the first woman to sign onto that label. She is a classically trained on the piano and worked for a video game producer before making beats full time. She now has five albums. This year she will be at major music festivals like Shaky Beats, Lightning in a Bottle, Sasquatch, Summer Camp, and Sonar in Barcelona.