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Jlin is the recording alias of Jerrilynn Patton, an electronic music producer from Gary, Indiana. Initially associated with Chicago’s footwork scene, her music evolved far beyond that style, exploring unheard rhythms and placing her in a category of her own. Her debut album, 2015′s Dark Energy, was filled with twisted, volatile tracks that seemed far more concerned with venting frustration, anger, and depression than providing dancefloor fodder. The album was an immediate, unexpected success, causing her to quit her job as a steel mill worker and pursue music full-time. One of the most acclaimed experimental electronic artists of the 2010s and 2020s, she has shared the stage or collaborated with artists such as Björk, Ben Frost, and William Basinski. Additionally, she has ventured into contemporary dance, composing the music for Wayne McGregor’s Autobiography, which premiered in 2017. Her EPs Embryo (2021) and Perspective (2023) contained pieces written for her collaboration with Third Coast Percussion, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
Patton began producing music in 2008, and while her early tracks relied on heavily manipulated soul samples (as is common with the genre), her mother encouraged her to find her own voice. Her subsequent material featured samples from horror films such as Mommie Dearest (1981), but she otherwise largely abandoned samples. Jlin first reached the public’s consciousness in 2011 when her tracks “Erotic Heat” and “Asylum” were included on Planet Mu’s Bangs & Works, Vol. 2 compilation of the Chicago juke/footwork sound, which also included tracks by DJ Rashad & Gant-Man, DJ Clent, RP Boo, Traxman, and other notable producers from the scene. A few Jlin tracks appeared on online footwork compilations, but her debut release didn’t arrive until March of 2015, when Planet Mu released her first full-length, Dark Energy, which included a collaboration with experimental electronic artist Holly Herndon. The album was an immediate critical success, earning rave reviews from numerous publications, including Pitchfork, FACT, and Resident Advisor. Dark Energy was eventually included on a multitude of year-end best-of lists, and was named Album of the Year by both The Quietus and The Wire. A follow-up EP titled Free Fall also appeared on Planet Mu that November.
Patton subsequently quit her job as a steel mill worker in order to concentrate on writing music and touring. In 2016, she remixed Factory Floor’s song “Wave” and released a few songs online, teasing her second album. The Dark Lotus EP appeared in February of 2017. Jlin’s highly anticipated sophomore full-length, Black Origami, arrived in May, and included a collaboration with composer William Basinski. Also in 2017, Patton embarked on a project in collaboration with British choreographer Wayne McGregor, soundtracking a dance performance piece called Autobiography; the performance was designed to replicate aspects of the human genome. Jlin’s soundtrack was eventually given a physical release in 2018, again on Planet Mu. She remixed songs by Björk, St. Vincent, and Max Richter, and appeared on Herndon’s 2019 album PROTO.
Jlin kept busy writing music for commissioned projects, including collaborations with Kronos Quartet and choreographer Kyle Abraham. She released the EP Embryo in late 2021, containing the title track, written for Chicago-based ensemble Third Coast Percussion, as well as production elements recalling the futurism of vintage Detroit techno. Her collaboration with Third Coast Percussion was nominated for the 2023 Pulitzer Prize in Music. The ensemble released their recordings of the pieces on their album Perspectives, while Jlin issued her original versions as the EP Perspective (with the CD edition including the four songs from Embryo). ~ Paul Simpson