Honing prodigious talent

and powerful,

  mystical energy,

        JIL


is an alternative R&B band on the fast-pace rise.

 

*Two out of three members of JIL were interviewed for this piece. They requested to stay anonymous, under the acronyms JAY and EYE.

 

 

interview and portraits by Beata Kanter


Beata Kanter: So… what’s up with the mask?

 

JAY: I found a white one in Japan, when I was there with Onyx (Collective). It had this filtration system, which is huge. Then I realized, this is what I need to be wearing, I’m not affected by the cigarette smoke, at all…everything stays warm, moist…my voice, I’m not nearly as tired. My respiratory system benefits.

 

I’m also more aware of when I open my mouth unnecessarily. People don’t see me make as many mistakes.

 

BK: What do you mean?

 

JAY: I say things I shouldn’t be saying all the time.

 

 

3 months ago, I decided that silence is what I needed to achieve, I needed to stop speaking entirely. And so the mask is a movement in that direction.

 

BK: That makes A LOT of sense. But wait… you went to Japan with Onyx Collective and you’re about to go on tour with JIL. What is the relationship between Onyx and JIL?

 

JAY: Our first show ever, performing any original music, was with Onyx. We’re one in the same. We are all friends.

 

“It’s divine. We’re doing god’s work… the group of people that’s working together right now. It’s the 70’s all over again.”



 

 

BK: Anton Tami (the director of JIL’s latest video)… he’s a really big deal right? He works with The Weekend?

 

JAY: He and BRTHR, well Alex specifically of BRTHR, are really good friends. In fact, in celebrating the completion of shooting our video, I got to meet Alex because he came to dinner with us. And they’ve worked on a couple of The Weekend things since then.

 

BK: That video was insane. I keep watching it every few days. I’m genuinely mesmerized.

 

JAY: Thank you. We were pretty invested. All the sound design is us, and that’s just the post production. In terms of actually shooting the video, we were there for the whole four day run.

 

EYE: I drove the van.

 

JAY: I missed family weddings.

 

BK: You have so many fucking weddings.

 

JAY: I know.

 

EYE: I had to chase down jumper cables at like 5 am… on a tight schedule, with one member in a total breakdown, the van in a complete breakdown. It was crazy…

 

We had all slept for two hours, I was in Chinatown at 5 am trying to pick up the make-up artist, the camera operators, the director, who was somewhere out in Rockaway, all of this while driving a 15-person van. Then the shit (the van) dies on me, right when the shit (mayhem!) is going down. And we had to make the sunrise because we were trying to get those sun shots. So… I flagged a cab down, got jumper cables, started the van, made it out there, picked up the director, and we were all just speeding through Rockaway in all sorts of disarray.

 

JAY: I ended up carrying a motorcycle in the back of the rig.

 

EYE: He was literally riding in the back of the trailer holding this motorcycle…

 

JAY: From the entrance to the Williamsburg bridge all the way to the Broadway J into Bushwick, to drop the shit (the motorcycle) off.

 

BK: You were holding it??

 

JAY: Yes in the freezing cold, standing in an open trailer attached to a truck that this hung over dude was driving. You know those motorcycle shots? We were driving 100 miles an hour. I was holding our DP (director of photography). I literally had him strapped to my belt loop which was hooked on to the truck so that we didn’t fly off.

 

EYE: And I was sitting in the passenger seat…we were in a parking lot doing circles trying to go fast enough for the effect to look realistic. So we were just speeding on one end of the parking lot as fast as we could until it was too late…and THEN he’d break. That shit was scary as hell.

 

BK: Sounds like you could have died like 99 times…

 

JAY: I mean… just picture it. The camera capturing that shot is being held by a man from Sweden, who is being held by me…

 

BK: How are you that strong?

 

JAY: I’m so much stronger than you think. Every woman I’ve ever slept with says that to me.

 

Like ‘What the fuck is going on? How is this possible?!’

 

BK: Haha!

 

Women you’ve slept with, that’s another topic.  More specifically, how have the people closest to you, especially those you’ve been intimate with… how have they influenced your music.

 

JAY: Well that’s how it started…

 

 

EYE: We have songs about crazy moments ...intimate moments.

 

BK: Is that how you write? Sit down together and share these intimate moments?

 

JAY: When we first started I said guys… give me anything.

 

“Please… I know you feel something from the vibe that is this beat.”

 

EYE: I’ll tell you how it all started. One day the three of us met up in Luca’s freshman dorm room at NYU.

 

JAY: Which was freezing because the heat was fucked up.

 

EYE: So we ate a batch of weed cookies and started writing over those beats.

 

JAY: …. I was lost, in a cloud of doubt, in a sea of questions….

 

EYE: That was the first track we all made together. By the end of that night we had this three track thing…

 

JAY: The trilogy.

 

EYE: 10 minutes of music that we just made in one night. That was one of the most hype moments… dipping on the train and listening to these songs thinking, damn yo did we just make this whole shit? This is official.

 

So then we kept going…and now we’re here.

 

BK: I was sure that somebody produced you guys.

 

JAY and EYE: It’s just us.

 



 

BK: Has there ever been any bad blood or misunderstanding between Onyx Collective and JiL?

 

JAY: There has never been any bad blood between Onyx and JiL. Ever.

 

Although...There was a nervousness.

 

EYE: There was some confusion.

 

JAY: Mac and André, back when they were Mac and André (original representation for JIL) were fearing my leaving JIL to pursue Onyx whole heartedly. And Isaiah (band leader of Onyx Collective) in the exact same months was fearing my leaving Onyx to pursue JIL.

 

BK: But you’re in both. Both are still active.

 

JAY: For life. If I can… you know…for as long as I can I would love to continue to do both. And I don’t see myself not being able to do both unless I’m contractually bound to solely contribute to one.

 

BK: Are either JIL or Onyx represented by somebody?

 

JAY: Nope.

 

EYE: No.

 

BK: Are people trying to snap you up?

 

JAY: Yup.

 

EYE: Oh yeah.

 

BK: Haha. I’m picturing a huge vacuum cleaner coming at you with its suction power and you guys crouching down screaming ‘noooooo you can’t take us!!’.

 

JAY: … deadass.

 

EYE: We’re just trying to keep it real and take our time and do what we do best.

 

JAY: Atlantic let us know that they were down like 3, 4 years ago.

 

BK: You didn’t want Atlantic?

 

JAY: We didn’t even want Warner. We don’t want anything.

 

 



BK: I’m still curious about your process. Where do you like to record?

 

JAY: Basement studio is our vibe.

 

EYE: We’ve worked wherever yo. Wherever we have speakers we go off.

 

BK: There’s a big movement now - - recording out of studios.

 

EYE: Yeah…we’ve had the opportunity a few times to go to a really nice studio. And it’s almost just like… someone pass the aux!  You can do so much with so little. Ultimately all you really need is a little interface, a laptop and an aux cord.

 

BK: You get a difference sound too, right?

 

EYE: Definitely. I think the most important part about it is the vibe. You’re in a place to make music. It becomes the space where you can create.

 

JAY: And day is night and night is day.                              

 

EYE: Yeah, you don’t give a fuck...you don’t leave the studio. You can be in there for hours and you don’t want to leave. You don’t know or want to know what time it is or when you’re coming home.

 



 

BK:  I’ve heard a lot of people say that they want to speak to the world: They have something to say to the world which is going to change the world.

 

Do you guys feel that way?

 

EYE: To speak to the world? Yeah I feel like my main duty is just to give something. To try in some way. To put in effort towards whatever greater good there is. Through music I’ve found a way to channel literal energy within myself to reach other people’s ears. That’s the best thing I can do.

 

BK: Are you trying to influence them in some way? Through channeling this energy?

 

EYE: In one way, I’m trying to influence people by just doing things, and encourage people to just do things. To not be stagnant, to face their fears…you know what I mean? To go for those things that they’re trying to do. And in another way, I’m also just trying to do me… what’s natural to me. And be as free as I can possibly be. Be as open as I can be. Through music.

 

“When you’re making music, you’re giving your life force to something.”

 

 

BK: What about you?

 

JAY: As a musician, I just want to make music. And speak to myself, and be true to myself. As a person, my mission is to speak to the world.

 

 JIL… JIL is supposed to speak to the world.

 

BK: …I believe you. I can feel it.

 

Let’s take some pictures, I’m jonesing for it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

for more on the band, visit their website at JIL.NYC

Honing prodigious talent

and powerful,

  mystical energy,

        JIL


is an alternative R&B band on the fast-pace rise.

 

*Two out of three members of JIL were interviewed for this piece. They requested to stay anonymous, under the acronyms JAY and EYE.

 

 

interview and portraits by Beata Kanter


Beata Kanter: So… what’s up with the mask?

 

JAY: I found a white one in Japan, when I was there with Onyx (Collective). It had this filtration system, which is huge. Then I realized, this is what I need to be wearing, I’m not affected by the cigarette smoke, at all…everything stays warm, moist…my voice, I’m not nearly as tired. My respiratory system benefits.

 

I’m also more aware of when I open my mouth unnecessarily. People don’t see me make as many mistakes.

 

BK: What do you mean?

 

JAY: I say things I shouldn’t be saying all the time.

 

 

3 months ago, I decided that silence is what I needed to achieve, I needed to stop speaking entirely. And so the mask is a movement in that direction.

 

BK: That makes A LOT of sense. But wait… you went to Japan with Onyx Collective and you’re about to go on tour with JIL. What is the relationship between Onyx and JIL?

 

JAY: Our first show ever, performing any original music, was with Onyx. We’re one in the same. We are all friends.

 

“It’s divine. We’re doing god’s work… the group of people that’s working together right now. It’s the 70’s all over again.”



 

 

BK: Anton Tami (the director of JIL’s latest video)… he’s a really big deal right? He works with The Weekend?

 

JAY: He and BRTHR, well Alex specifically of BRTHR, are really good friends. In fact, in celebrating the completion of shooting our video, I got to meet Alex because he came to dinner with us. And they’ve worked on a couple of The Weekend things since then.

 

BK: That video was insane. I keep watching it every few days. I’m genuinely mesmerized.

 

JAY: Thank you. We were pretty invested. All the sound design is us, and that’s just the post production. In terms of actually shooting the video, we were there for the whole four day run.

 

EYE: I drove the van.

 

JAY: I missed family weddings.

 

BK: You have so many fucking weddings.

 

JAY: I know.

 

EYE: I had to chase down jumper cables at like 5 am… on a tight schedule, with one member in a total breakdown, the van in a complete breakdown. It was crazy…

 

We had all slept for two hours, I was in Chinatown at 5 am trying to pick up the make-up artist, the camera operators, the director, who was somewhere out in Rockaway, all of this while driving a 15-person van. Then the shit (the van) dies on me, right when the shit (mayhem!) is going down. And we had to make the sunrise because we were trying to get those sun shots. So… I flagged a cab down, got jumper cables, started the van, made it out there, picked up the director, and we were all just speeding through Rockaway in all sorts of disarray.

 

JAY: I ended up carrying a motorcycle in the back of the rig.

 

EYE: He was literally riding in the back of the trailer holding this motorcycle…

 

JAY: From the entrance to the Williamsburg bridge all the way to the Broadway J into Bushwick, to drop the shit (the motorcycle) off.

 

BK: You were holding it??

 

JAY: Yes in the freezing cold, standing in an open trailer attached to a truck that this hung over dude was driving. You know those motorcycle shots? We were driving 100 miles an hour. I was holding our DP (director of photography). I literally had him strapped to my belt loop which was hooked on to the truck so that we didn’t fly off.

 

EYE: And I was sitting in the passenger seat…we were in a parking lot doing circles trying to go fast enough for the effect to look realistic. So we were just speeding on one end of the parking lot as fast as we could until it was too late…and THEN he’d break. That shit was scary as hell.

 

BK: Sounds like you could have died like 99 times…

 

JAY: I mean… just picture it. The camera capturing that shot is being held by a man from Sweden, who is being held by me…

 

BK: How are you that strong?

 

JAY: I’m so much stronger than you think. Every woman I’ve ever slept with says that to me.

 

Like ‘What the fuck is going on? How is this possible?!’

 

BK: Haha!

 

Women you’ve slept with, that’s another topic.  More specifically, how have the people closest to you, especially those you’ve been intimate with… how have they influenced your music.

 

JAY: Well that’s how it started…

 

 

EYE: We have songs about crazy moments ...intimate moments.

 

BK: Is that how you write? Sit down together and share these intimate moments?

 

JAY: When we first started I said guys… give me anything.

 

“Please… I know you feel something from the vibe that is this beat.”

 

EYE: I’ll tell you how it all started. One day the three of us met up in Luca’s freshman dorm room at NYU.

 

JAY: Which was freezing because the heat was fucked up.

 

EYE: So we ate a batch of weed cookies and started writing over those beats.

 

JAY: …. I was lost, in a cloud of doubt, in a sea of questions….

 

EYE: That was the first track we all made together. By the end of that night we had this three track thing…

 

JAY: The trilogy.

 

EYE: 10 minutes of music that we just made in one night. That was one of the most hype moments… dipping on the train and listening to these songs thinking, damn yo did we just make this whole shit? This is official.

 

So then we kept going…and now we’re here.

 

BK: I was sure that somebody produced you guys.

 

JAY and EYE: It’s just us.

 



 

BK: Has there ever been any bad blood or misunderstanding between Onyx Collective and JiL?

 

JAY: There has never been any bad blood between Onyx and JiL. Ever.

 

Although...There was a nervousness.

 

EYE: There was some confusion.

 

JAY: Mac and André, back when they were Mac and André (original representation for JIL) were fearing my leaving JIL to pursue Onyx whole heartedly. And Isaiah (band leader of Onyx Collective) in the exact same months was fearing my leaving Onyx to pursue JIL.

 

BK: But you’re in both. Both are still active.

 

JAY: For life. If I can… you know…for as long as I can I would love to continue to do both. And I don’t see myself not being able to do both unless I’m contractually bound to solely contribute to one.

 

BK: Are either JIL or Onyx represented by somebody?

 

JAY: Nope.

 

EYE: No.

 

BK: Are people trying to snap you up?

 

JAY: Yup.

 

EYE: Oh yeah.

 

BK: Haha. I’m picturing a huge vacuum cleaner coming at you with its suction power and you guys crouching down screaming ‘noooooo you can’t take us!!’.

 

JAY: … deadass.

 

EYE: We’re just trying to keep it real and take our time and do what we do best.

 

JAY: Atlantic let us know that they were down like 3, 4 years ago.

 

BK: You didn’t want Atlantic?

 

JAY: We didn’t even want Warner. We don’t want anything.

 

 



BK: I’m still curious about your process. Where do you like to record?

 

JAY: Basement studio is our vibe.

 

EYE: We’ve worked wherever yo. Wherever we have speakers we go off.

 

BK: There’s a big movement now - - recording out of studios.

 

EYE: Yeah…we’ve had the opportunity a few times to go to a really nice studio. And it’s almost just like… someone pass the aux!  You can do so much with so little. Ultimately all you really need is a little interface, a laptop and an aux cord.

 

BK: You get a difference sound too, right?

 

EYE: Definitely. I think the most important part about it is the vibe. You’re in a place to make music. It becomes the space where you can create.

 

JAY: And day is night and night is day.                              

 

EYE: Yeah, you don’t give a fuck...you don’t leave the studio. You can be in there for hours and you don’t want to leave. You don’t know or want to know what time it is or when you’re coming home.

 



 

BK:  I’ve heard a lot of people say that they want to speak to the world: They have something to say to the world which is going to change the world.

 

Do you guys feel that way?

 

EYE: To speak to the world? Yeah I feel like my main duty is just to give something. To try in some way. To put in effort towards whatever greater good there is. Through music I’ve found a way to channel literal energy within myself to reach other people’s ears. That’s the best thing I can do.

 

BK: Are you trying to influence them in some way? Through channeling this energy?

 

EYE: In one way, I’m trying to influence people by just doing things, and encourage people to just do things. To not be stagnant, to face their fears…you know what I mean? To go for those things that they’re trying to do. And in another way, I’m also just trying to do me… what’s natural to me. And be as free as I can possibly be. Be as open as I can be. Through music.

 

“When you’re making music, you’re giving your life force to something.”

 

 

BK: What about you?

 

JAY: As a musician, I just want to make music. And speak to myself, and be true to myself. As a person, my mission is to speak to the world.

 

 JIL… JIL is supposed to speak to the world.

 

BK: …I believe you. I can feel it.

 

Let’s take some pictures, I’m jonesing for it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

for more on the band, visit their website at JIL.NYC