TOKiMONSTA urges her fellow Asians to continue igniting the fire for change and celebrates her roots for Asian Heritage Month.
TOKiMONSTA sat down with ET Canada in celebration of Asian Heritage Month in May. The renowned electronic DJ spoke candidly on how allies can support their Asian communities amid the rise of anti-Asian violence and rhetoric. She also touched on the fatigue these attacks cause and the cultural roots that may shackle some Asian youth.
“I would say educating yourself,” she advised allies. “It’s one of those things right now where people don’t understand. They never knew that this violence existed, like, ‘Oh, the Asian community. It’s been fine,’ you know? Because there is a long history with many Asian cultures sort of internalizing a lot of the issues that they deal with, especially as immigrants in this country.”
“I know, speaking personally with my family, my mother was like, ‘We don’t like something happens. We don’t say anything.’ Now we’re finally speaking out. We have to because the acts are just so blatant and there’s no way to ignore them. I think educating yourself on the Asian-American experience or Westernized Asian experience, what it’s like to be in this country, asking your friends what it’s like. Asking your friends if they’re okay. It’s been pretty fatiguing on a lot of us. So those are a few steps.”
For allies interested in educating themselves, TOKiMONSTA has an obvious but useful resource.
“The easiest way, I would say, is just to search the hashtag #StopAsianHate,” she explained. “There’s just a multitude of resources. So many talented graphic designers made all these cool little graphics on ways that you can help, places that you can donate to. It is pretty incredible.”
“There are organizations that are just to help Asian women, for example, because they’re the most marginalized,” the artist added. “And there are ways to help the elderly right now because they are the main targets. I am not one to say them off the top of my head, but a good Google search will give you all those answers.”
TOKiMONSTA also rallied her fellow Asian-Americans who may feel like they can’t speak out.
“We are a completely different generation than our parents and their parents, and with each generation, I truly believe that people evolve,” she asserted. “And just because they did it and they thought it worked for them to stay quiet doesn’t mean it’s going to work for us. And it’s not. It’s not working for us. Clearly, we can see. So we have to find that strength in ourselves, that courageous nature, to speak out and defend each other and protect each other because no one knows your experience except you.”
“All our experiences are very unique, but as a community, we are just so much stronger together. If we can just find that brave attitude and go out there and speak on those things, things will change. Even the fact that we’re talking about this now. We didn’t talk about it like a couple of years ago, not in the way that we are now. That’s all because the community has decided to speak up and make some changes.“
Speaking of past generations, TOKiMONSTA gave her mom a standing ovation for Asian Heritage Month.
“She was just the strongest, hardest working woman. And she taught me from a very young age — and this is not a common ideology within especially her generation of Asian parents — she’s like, ‘You’ve got to get your own, basically.’ She doesn’t use that term. At the end of the day, you need to have the skills to support yourself. And you don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know if you’re going to have a husband that’s going to take care of you or a husband in general or kids or no kids or all these things.”
“You need to be self-sufficient,” she continued. “And that was something that was very forward-thinking, in my opinion, for her generation. And she is a single mother. And she dealt with a lot of shame being a single mother, and she didn’t impart that on me. So she is the best role model ever.”
TOKiMONSTA also shared her favourite things about Korean culture.
“Something that’s really beautiful about the culture is how everyone takes care of each other,” she explained. “And this is something you might not experience unless you have, like, a really good Korean homie or you get to visit Korea. Your friends, your Korean friends will always show up for you and they’ll show up for you even when you don’t want them to show up for you.”
“Like at your front door if you’re sad. Or if you’re visiting, they’ll welcome you by taking you out and having the most amazing fun things and eating the most amazing fun foods. And I know this is a bit more of a nonspecific kind of cultural characteristic, but I think it’s a really lovely one and you really feel it, especially if you go visit.”
And don’t forget about the explosive flavour of Korean cuisine.
“I am a sucker for KFC, which is Korean fried chicken. It is very excellent,” TOKiMONSTA gushed. “Barbecue is always good. A very simple homemade meal is Kimchi-jjigae. It is a kimchi stew. It usually has pork belly and it’s kind of spicy, but not too spicy. It’s good. And it’s like a home staple.”
A prolific electronic producer, the DJ detailed how her classical piano background sets her apart from her contemporaries.
“Some people don’t operate from the same lens or perspective that I do,” she shared. “And I think that I have a very unique perspective in terms of my version of electronic music because of that classical background.”
“For anyone familiar, a lot of classical music tends to be very – it’s more like a journey, it’s a lot of storytelling. I think with electronic music, I offer the lens of a song that can kind of tell a story where there’s a beginning, a middle and an end. But a lot of electronic music is just loops over and over again. And that’s cool, too.”
TOKiMONSTA concluded the interview with this poignant reminder to her fellow Asians and beyond.
“I guess to my Asian brothers and sisters out there, I know times seem very difficult right now, but we’ll make it through. And through this moment we’ll be able to live in a better society at the end of it. So we’ve got to keep our eyes at the end of the tunnel. And that really goes for everyone in the world. I know it seems bleak, but we’re going to make it through.”
TOKiMONSTA released her latest album, Oasis Nocturno in 2020. She has been featured in Netflix series “Explained” and the documentary “Underplayed”. She has collaborated with Anderson .Paak and Kool Keith, and has worked on the “Mortal Kombat” video game franchise soundtrack.