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Jerrilynn Patton or Jlin has emerged as one of footwork’s most original and unfeigned voices. It took no more than the release of a single (“Erotic Heat”) on Planet Mu’s 2011 footwork compilation Bangs and Works Vol.2, a couple of tracks for Rick Owens’ F/W 2014 runway show, and the 2015 debut LP Dark Energy to establish her as a glowing standout in a scene that has been primarily male-dominated.
Jlin grew up and still lives in Gary, Indiana, a Chicago suburb known for its musical history — it gave rise, among other things, to The Jackson 5. Gary’s proximity to the metropolis of footwork has endowed it with a small contingent of that culture unto its own. The suburb is also known nationwide for its pallid industrial landscape. Rather than existing as a producer in parallel to, and distanced from, Gary’s economic realities, Jlin is herself entrenched in those realities and processes them in her creative pursuits; she works long shifts in a steel mill and produces in her spare time. About the making of Dark Energy, an album that was spun of the thread of struggle, she says, “every moment in my life lead up to [it]. My musical sense of expression comes from sadness, and anger. I can't create from a happy place. It seems pointless in my opinion. Creating for me is about feeling and impact.”
As a child, Jlin’s favorite artists (Sade, Anita Baker, and Rachelle Ferrell) were mostly introduced to her by her parents. A 2008 track sampling the Tina Marie song “Portuguese Love” marked the beginning of her endeavors as a producer. 2015’s eleven-track Dark Energy exhibits a hard, fresh, and complex take on a genre stamped by names like DJ Rashad and RP Boo. Jlin’s aesthetic adopts an established form and warps it. While her monolithic sonic structures and rugged rhythms maintain the basic, and uncompromising, skeleton of footwork, her approach makes use of breathing room we didn’t even know existed within the form. Dark Energy’s “Expand” features vocals by Holly Herndon, and another track samples the 1981 film “Mommie Dearest”.