TOKiMONSTA, one of this week’s Billboard cover stars (alongside Alison Wonderland and Rezz), sat down for a chat during her photo shoot, discussing her musical influences, how her Moyamoya disease diagnosis impacted her ability to create music, and what it felt like to be nominated for a Grammy.
Speaking of her eclectic musical inspirations, TOKiMONSTA tells Billboard that way before she ever got into dance and electronic music through the L.A. rave scene, she listened exclusively to rap music.
“I was heavily influenced by the kind of more leftist side of dance music, like, Autechre, Squarepusher, Aphex Twin, things like that,” she says. “I’m just a product of all my influences, and I think that by growing up really diverse and being open to all different types of music, it’s allowed that to reflect in the music that I make.”
In the interview, the DJ and producer also opens up about her Moyamoya disease diagnosis in 2015, which led to two brain surgeries and a difficult recovery process that made her temporarily lose her ability to understand music.
The disease, she explains, affects the circulatory system in your brain, causing arteries to shut off and shrink until they close, leaving the brain with no blood supply. In January 2016, she had to undergo two different brain surgeries and while they were successful, they rendered her unable to speak. “I lost my ability to understand language from other people, and then I lost my ability to understand music,” she says.
Approximately a month-and-a-half later, she regained her ability to speak and, as TOKiMONSTA puts it, “I was able to create again.”
You can watch the full interview above to hear more from TOKiMONSTA, including how it felt to be nominated for her first ever Grammy award earlier this year.