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YouTube Sessions: Jlin

One of electronic music’s most singular artists picks 10 of her all-time favourite songs.

For those with their ear to the ground, Jlin may have first appeared on the radar with ‘Erotic Heat’ and ‘Asylum’ from Planet Mu’s 2011 footwork document, Bangs and Works Vol.2. For many others it was the resounding statement of her 2015 debut album Dark Energy that captured the minds of seasoned footwork fans and newcomers alike, meeting widespread critical acclaim in the process. Eschewing the sample-heavy motifs prevalent in a lot of footwork, the 11-tracker was an intensely visceral journey through feverish percussion and stuttering vocal snippets that were often better suited to bedroom listening than the dance floor. As Jlin herself said: “I don’t make the tracks as much as I feel them. Creating for me is about feeling and impact.”

Hailing from Gary, Indiana (only 20 miles from footwork’s epicentre of Chicago) Jlin has emerged this past year as one of the genre’s most singular artists, yet it’s become increasingly obsolete to mark her work with that label. Her music has found itself on the runways of the fashion world, with her rhythmic workouts soundtracking shows for Chanel, Adidas and Rick Owens. Unveiling the Free Fall EP last November – again on Planet Mu – its four tracks (which include a blistering tribute to her musical mentor RP Boo) explored more dance floor friendly themes, yet with that unmistakable ferocity of her debut LP.

Jlin’s live show is also a force to be reckoned with, debuting at Poland’s Unsound Festival last year, Resident Advisor’s Ryan Keeling described it as a standout set of the weekend that harboured shades of Shackleton’s performances. She’ll be appearing next at Lapsus festival in Barcelona this weekend, alongside a host of artists on the cutting edge of club music, including Lotic, M.E.S.H., nthng and Powell.

Ahead of Lapsus, Jlin’s dug deep and gifted us 10 of her all-time favourite songs. A wide-ranging assortment, it features Sade, Nina Simone, James Blake, Art of Noise and Sister Nancy, among others. Peek inside Jlin’s musical world below…

1. Sade – ‘Skin’

Sade will always be my favorite artist of all time, if you know me you know that. She is an artist way before her time. Her music has been and always will be a part of daily routine. ‘Skin’ is just one of the many tracks I love. I would love to meet Sade just to say thank you!

2. Nina Simone – ‘Be My Husband’

There is so much I could say about the absolute genius and classical pianist Nina Simone. There will NEVER be another Nina Simone, period. I chose ‘Be My Husband’ because that is as raw and rich in so many ways it gets. I love Nina Simone’s work and really wish I could thank her for being unapologetically gifted and black.

3. Hiatus Kaiyote – ‘Borderline with My Atoms’

Hiatus Kaiyote already won me over with their two tracks ‘Mobius Streak’ and ‘Laputa’. The chemistry in their band is phenomenal and most importantly it’s real. ‘Borderline with My Atoms has definitely been on repeat for me lately, it’s just a brilliant production all the way round.

4. Sulk Station – ‘Contentment’

I’ve been listening to ‘Contentment’ a lot lately. I love Sulk Station’s style musically. They loyally stay in a lane of their own. The complexity and tranquility of their work is brilliant, for sure.

5. Earth, Wind, and Fire – ‘Fantasy’

I have to accredit my parents for introducing me to Earth, Wind, and Fire, of course. I play back the first thirty seconds so much sometimes because I get so stuck there. The relativity I feel when I listen to this track is unbelievable. It relates so much as to how I feel about many things now personally, and in just simple observation of life. Every time I listen to an Earth, Wind, and Fire track I learn something new, and that means everything.

6. Willow Smith – ‘8’

‘8’ is simply an honest track. I can very much relate to the lyrics. It’s always a nice thing to hear how you feel expressed through a song – it’s reassuring, at least for me.

7.  Rachelle Ferrell – ‘Waiting’

Rachelle Ferrell is my second favorite artist hands down to start with. Her vocal skills are impeccable on levels that I can’t explain. ‘Waiting’ is definitely one of her tracks that displays not only her gift vocally, but you feel every note internally. I’m so happy my mother introduced me to her at such a young age.

8. James Blake – ‘I Mind’

I’ve just recently within the last year been introduced to James Blake’s work by a very close friend. ‘I Mind’ is quite a track, not only because James Blake has a great voice but the style of his work is sultry, yet edgy in its own way. That track has such a soothing complexity that draws me in no matter what state of mind I’m in.

9. Sister Nancy – ‘Bam Bam’

The first time I heard this song was in the movie Belly, it grabbed me immediately. I listen to this track at least once a day, it’s a must for me. Usually when I’m getting ready for a show I play this to ease my anxiety or just to get me into a focused state.

10.  Art of Noise – ‘Opus 4’

Besides the classic track ‘Moments In Love’ by Art of Noise, which I absolutely love, ‘Opus 4’ is as equally a classic to me. When I first heard ‘Opus 4’ I fell in love with its melancholy simplicity and unpredictable harmonies. If the innocence of nature had a theme song, I’d have to say ‘Opus 4’ is it.

Jlin plays Lapsus festival at the Centre for Contemporary Culture in Barcelona, April 2. More info and tickets here.

Featured image: William Glasspiegel