Fearless. Boundless. Daring. Unpredictable. These are characteristics that could easily describe a protagonist in a superhero movie. They are also characteristics Gary, Indiana composer and creator Jlin uses to govern her art. From the first words exchanged between us, the impression she conveys is formidable, fierce even. Her words are striking, and seem to effortlessly mimic the same sentiments her music makes you feel—something artists strive for but seldom achieve with such success.

Born Jerrilynn Patton in the shadows of Chicago and growing up in its subsequent footwork scene, Patton wasn’t always a producer. Before she was Jlin, she was just a kid growing up in Gary. An only child gifted at math, spending many hours in solitude pursuing academics, her world clicked on when she heard footwork music for the first time. Little did she know that single moment would eventually alter her life drastically, placing her amongst the leaders of the footwork scene—not just in her native United States, but also in the world at large.

She now resides on Planet Mu, a label known for hosting artists that push boundaries in their own respective genres. Despite having currently earned a place at Planet Mu, her trajectory to the label (curated by Mike Pardinas) wasn’t necessarily a straight and easy one. Showing him tunes, Jlin hoped to secure her way onto the first Bangs and Works, a footwork compilation series she gave Pardinas the name for. “I originally wanted to be on that first compilation but got rejected because Mike felt my work wasn’t up to par just yet. That didn’t discourage me though, I still continued to create and share my work through Facebook videos,” Patton speaks of her first efforts. “I ended up doing a track entitled “Erotic Heat” that caught his attention the following year, which ended up on the second compilation. That’s what got the ball rolling, and we’ve been treading forward ever since.”

Treading forward. Jlin’s modest description of her own progress as an artist does not belie her achievements. Making music for Rick Owens’ show in Paris fashion week, composing the score for renowned dancer/ choreographer Wayne McGregor’s upcoming revue, as well as headlining a NYC show for Discwoman (an all-female techno music collective that was recently given the nod by Forbes magazine), are all prestigious milestones. It’s hard to imagine that not too long ago Jlin was working a regular job. “Two incidents happened that made me realize it was time to go. The first one was when I performed at Unsound in 2015,” Jlin says. “Everyone was so blown away by my performance, and I remember my great friend Holly Herndon asked me, ‘Why are you still working a job? You are a great performer and can do this the rest of your life.’”

“The second thing was when my mum went to Kenya. I was getting off work from a midnight shift and came home to safari pics that she had posted on Facebook. Seeing those pics made me take the leap of my life.” Since that leap of fate, Jlin has been busy. Shows, EPs, learning how to DJ her own music, collaborating and writing material for her next full-length, Black Origami, has filled her time. Black Origami is due out this spring on Planet Mu, and will be the follow up to her debut album Dark Energy. Loosely based around darkness, her album titles hint at the place from which she creates. “My creativity depends on my willingness to be uncomfortable. Being willing to access that place is a choice, and I’ll choose that over complacency and audience pleasing every time. I have to first be true to myself; otherwise all of this means absolutely nothing,” Patton says. “I would rather die than be complacent.”

Despite sounding ominous, Patton is very clear that the dark and blackness she creates from is not negative. As she finishes Black Origami and plans the rest of 2017, she will continue to access this darkness. “A dark place is a beautiful thing.”

BY: KAYLA GRAHAM

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