Moni Tep, better known as JusMoni, isn’t new to the Seattle music scene. Since her debut album in 2010, she has released three solo albums and collaborated with other Seattle R&B and hip-hop fixtures such as THEESatisfaction, Porter Ray, OCnotes, Chimurenga Renaissance, Tay Sean, and WD4D.
The Beacon Hill native moved to Mercer Island almost three years ago. Living in Mercer Island has served Tep well, as she said it gives her some peace from bustling Seattle.
“I’m offered just a little bit more peace and quiet out here which helps me work a little more effectively,” Tep said. “I do love the chaos though, it drives my motivation and inspires me but having seclusion to myself does help me and it affects my work in that way.”
While she enjoys living in Mercer Island with her 8-year-old son, Tep is considering moving back to Seattle.
“I’m a real Seattle kid. If my neighborhood looked the same, if people weren’t pushing people out of the neighborhoods that I grew up in, then I’d prefer living in Seattle,” she said. “This is just where I am right now. This is where I see myself for the next maybe year.”
Despite the relocation, Tep remains a strong Seattle fixture as she spends most of her time in the city working at the Beacon Hill Station coffee shop, taking her son to school and recording and performing her music.
As a woman of color in the music industry, Tep navigates industry politics and disproportionate resources to her counterparts by “taking up space.”
“I’ve always been the kind of person to take up space. I don’t ask for it, I’m like ‘I’m here, what’s up?’ and assert myself that way,” she said. “I’m having to teach my child how to navigate this world in his identity and assert his himself in the same ways.”
Taking up space aligns with her purpose of providing healing and creating more opportunities for women of color to capitalize on their strengths.
“My purpose is for healing and higher exaltation. However I can get people to meet me within my music on level of higher healing and higher thinking is what I’m here for. I’m here push you and make you feel uncomfortable so that you can grow,” she said. “I [also] want to create more opportunities for specifically women of color to get money and capitalize on our strengths, our art and our stories.”
Tep released her latest solo album, “Sweet to Me,” on April 24.
Unlike her previous projects, this album caters to the “sweeter sides” of her sensibilities. As a mom and as a woman, she said she feels she has to have a tough exterior to deal with the hardships of life.
When making the album, she would go into the studio and just sing her heart out.
“[I didn’t] really write anything. I would get in front of the mic and hear a beat for the first time and just like release everything,” she said. “When I hear the songs now, I’m brought back to the very moment I made it and what it felt like to be free in that moment. That’s what my music and my singing does for me.”
However, like all of her previous projects, the album is in dedication to her son.
“He is my driving motivation, my source of strength and my source of light. Had I not had him at 16 and not be doing what I’m doing at 25 as his mom, my stories would be informed differently,” she said. “My identity would be different, so everything is in dedication to him and setting him up to being a better person than me.”
Tep will be performing her homecoming show at Chop Suey June 28. She sold out Chop Suey for her first album release when she was 17, just nine months after giving birth to her son.
“This is like me coming home and saying ‘I’m here!’” she said.
Sweet to Me is available on all streaming platforms. All her work is available on Soundcloud.