Full disclosure: I took the Q Line to meet J Line which, ironic as it may be, is also, apparently, fitting, because, as he says, the Second Avenue expansion has “changed his life.” It’s not the easiest to make the trek up to 92nd street, I know, I know, especially during the middle of Fashion Week. And, even if you do, you still have to contend with super crowded cafés and more brutalist apartment buildings than a sane person can handle. But, I promise you, once you do get up there, the company, and the matcha lattes, will make it all worth it.
The conversation really evolved organically, and the more I heard about J Line’s background the more impressed I became. His success is his own, and he earned it over years of running from morning dance practice to afternoon auditions to working the night shift. He figured out how to leverage that success only by failing, and yet he doesn’t harbor anger or resentment for the people who screwed him over on contracts or relationships. He has transcended that. He is, finally, financially independent, living with his boyfriend in an apartment on the Upper East Side. J Line is living his dream, making music however he wants, day after day after day.
The “however he wants” is key, because it’s only now that J Line has begun to make a name for himself that he really has creative control over his own work. See, the music he really wants to make falls into this halfway point between hip hop and EDM, so traditional record labels have found it difficult to market. It’s really not as crazy a blend as it sounds. Keep in mind that the lush Scandinavian beats which gave the world Max Martin also form the backbone for much of what Avicii and Tiësto pump out. It’s those semitones backed into warbling harmonies, all high octane, like O-Zone meets Zedd. Here, just give it a listen yourself.
The bottom line is that J Line had to find people with whom he vibed, and who were just as excited to make his idiosyncratic music. He said that it’s been coming together better lately and that the director who shot and edited his video “Over It” jumped on board for his newest release, “Too Much.” Really leaning into his acoustic maximalism, J decided to layer everything 80s, everything excess, one on top of the other. As he puts it: “You can hear homages to Freddie Mercury and Genesis, and it’s all tied together visually with Cult of Individuality brand clothes, hearkening back to Gordon Gekko and Patrick Bateman.”
Which isn’t to say that J Line is a sociopath. In fact, quite the opposite. Throughout his career he has devoted countless hours to his anti-bullying campaign visiting, get this, over one-thousand schools in thirty-six states. His approach is one of true disengagement; he doesn’t want to “get inside the headspace” of the bully, seeing it as a negative mental cycle and, besides, not really useful for the children being victimized. Instead, he seeks to encourage and inspire all children to pursue their dreams, proving by his own example that we can overcome social hostility and the obstacles of circumstance as long as we focus on who we are, and what we do. It’s pretty robust advice, I think because it stresses self-reliance and self-motivation; it’s more about questioning motives of negativity than providing an imperative to LOVE everyone all the time for everything. As J Line sums it up:
“You definitely don’t want to offend anyone but at the same time, you can’t be afraid to do what you feel you should. Or go out there and change the game.”
J Line is all about changing his game. Even right now he’s pursuing new experiences, as he visits his boyfriend’s native California for the very first time. I hope he enjoys Sacramento, but not too much. With summer coming and concerts kicking off, of course, I want him back in NYC.