JMI, or “Junk Made Ill,” performed live on Sunday at The Highline Ballroom for a crowd of over 500 people. JMI was invited to play by a venue representative who had seen JMI perform at The Bowery Poetry Project on November 19th.
|JMI at The Highline Ballroom 12/12/2011|
For Jaime Lynn, lead singer and songwriter, the performance marked a beginning, but it also marked the end of a near decade-long struggle for recognition.
Lynn moved to Queens in the winter of 2002 from Connecticut determined to pursue music. She moved from band to band in search of artists who shared in her taste in sound, genre, and aesthetic; bands like: Crucial, Spin Low, and Forminster Because. None of these still exist.
“I was anxious. No. I was desperate to find the right band,” said Lynn. “I got excited and jumped into every situation that I thought could have worked.”
After six months in New York, Lynn had run out of money: her savings spent, and no job. But Lynn had a knack for people, and she sustained herself financially by working five nights a week as a server at [bar here] on 14th street. At times, Lynn considered forfeiting her music career for a more reliable one. She even enrolled in classes at Hunter College to pursue writing. Lynn continued to allot time every week to practice her music.
“I was pretty distraught after four years of nothing musically,” said Lynn. “Even when I told myself I was done trying I would still sneak in a few sessions to practice and write music.”
This roughly three-year period of trepidation ended when Lynn met Spencer Gabor, her current boyfriend. In the spring of 2007, Lynn met Gabor at one of Gabor’s shows. Gabor had been playing shows around the city as DJ. Lynn felt that they were compatibly musically, and so they began working together to produce what has evolved into JMI.
In between bartending shifts, Lynn would travel to Long Island City in Queens to see Gabor.
“Our first practice together was all I needed,” said Lynn. “I knew we were going to be a match musically. He complemented my sound.”
Initially their relationship was strictly professional, but as they continued collaborating the line between platonic and romantic was confused. For Lynn, Gabor’s erratic behavior was keeping her from pursuing a relationship. Gabor was constantly without a job and used drugs to cope with his manic depression. Lynn was determined to build a band, however, and stuck by Gabor during this particularly turbulent time in his life.
“I tried to get him out of it: the drugs,” said Lynn. “But that how it goes with people like Spencer. It’s hard for them to stop abusing drugs once they get back into it.”
Gabor entered rehabilitation in 2009. When he was finished, he and Lynn decided to move in with each other.
“I don’t think I would have gone to rehab if it wasn’t for Jamie,” said Gabor. “It’s been two years now and things are starting to happen for us.”
The Highline Ballroom has certainly been fuller: a space with a capacity of over 1000 persons, the room was far from packed. But for JMI, it was a major step towards recognition. The attendees did not consist of solely family and friends, but of fans who had made the trip to Chelsea to listen to live music they liked.
“We were so nervous all week,” said Lynn. “We may have messed up a few times during our set but no one noticed right?”
“I love their sound. Its funky, a bit jazzy, and definitely electronic,” said Ryan Tawilian, who began managing the band in September. “I can’t wait to see where they go from here.”