JusMoni a.k.a. Moni Tep, is one of Seattle’s most soulful and enchanting vocalists and songwriters. She has paved her way within Seattle’s music scene by mixing genres and styles to create her own sound that pulls listeners in with a tender, celestial vibe.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself in your own words:
JM: First, I am a mom. I’m a musician who believes in practice. I am made up of memories of my elders and my body is built of it. I am full and still learning.
Q: How did you first get into the music scene?
JM: I released Ready For Life in 2010 -which feels like a first album to me- but before that I was at spots like Hidmo, SYPP, and Langston Hughes… I was pulling people together and getting folks involved in the music I was into. That was when I was about 14/15, I’m 24 now, and I’ve been involved in music in Seattle in some capacity since.
Q: Who are your everyday inspirations?
JM: My grandmother and mother embody so much strength. You don’t really understand what it takes to raise a whole person in the world, and have them come out ok… until you’re actually doing it. Now that I’m doing it, I understand what sacrifice is.
Black Constellation, and all persons involved, keeps me inspired to show up as my best self every day I get an opportunity to.
Q: Who are some of your creative icons that helped shape your work? Who do you find yourself coming back to?
JM: I am in constant gratitude that I am surrounded by incredible visionaries like Ishmael Butler of Shabazz Palaces, Stas Thee Boss, Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes– who are still living and breathing examples of artists who are actively working on being free.
I come back to them because I am only a continuation of their work.
“Movement is probably the first important part of my aesthetic. My spirit is in motion and I need what I’m wearing to be a reflection of that.”
Q: How would you describe your aesthetic? Who are your style icons?
JM: Movement is probably the first important part of my aesthetic. My spirit is in motion and I need what I’m wearing to be a reflection of that. I love bold and bright pieces that pick me up and leave me to not have to say anything.
Off top– Mom.
Me and my mama grew up with each other in the 90’s. She was always fly and always had me in something fresh as well. She was my first introduction to style.
I grew up watching Tisha Campbell, Lisa Bonet, Nia Long and Queen Latifah- and watched all of these women channel, Billie Holiday, Diana Ross, Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Frida Kahlo even, and so many more women.
Q: We love the way you prioritize care for those around you. Even in our short moments together you’re constantly looking to the people in your life who you love and making sure they’re alright, checking in with your son, making sure he’s being treated well and that he’s treating others well in return and supporting him in his endeavors, all while emitting positivity to everyone else. We’ve always considered care a distinct form of activism, so where do you think this instinct comes from?
JM: As Black women we are forced to pick ourselves up off the ground no matter the circumstance or situation. We are expected to carry not only our own, but the weight of those around us. There is a burden and responsibility there. There is care and love there, and there is process. These things come as instinct to me because my body holds the memory of the generations of women who came before me, and those trying to move through me now.
Q: I remember your interview with Stas for HellaBlackHellaSeattle (one of our favorites!), where you mention that you both have always had to make your own lanes (i.e. own space, own community). Have you felt a shift in the community where it’s become more inclusive or is it still the same old? Where would you like to feel more support in the community?
JM: I think in Seattle we have a very romanticized notion of community. I’ve stuck closely to people in this city whose work and values are aligned with mine. I’ve never been too concerned about spaces or people being inclusive of who I am or what I come with.
Q: Do you have a daily or weekly self-care ritual?
JM: Smoke. Weed. Every. Day.
Cannabis is an extremely important part of my daily practice and self care. My first smoke of the day allows me the time to meditate and set my intentions. It’s also very important to engage all of my sensibilities. I light incense to keep my mind clear.
Q: Tell us about some of your future projects you’re excited about:
JM: I’m working on a project titled Sweet To Me.
I’ve been collaborating with Lux Pot Shop on releasing a collection of skin care products. How We Met includes a CBD body butter, a face oil, and lavender water face spray. When people experience my work, I hope they are able to move through it fully, engaging all senses.