J. Gillie, born Jonathan Gilmore, was born in Wichita, Kansas in 1990. J. Gillie’s music captures the story of a dreamer who comes from a childhood caught up in an environment of crime, poverty and his family members drug addictions. With this being the case, it statistically predestined him into his own downfall, however, J. Gillie fought to create a different path.
At a young age, J.Gille’s mother gave him up to his grandmother because of her heavy drug use and unstable living environment. He lived with his grandmother and eventually moved with her to Delaware at the age of twelve. Soon after J.Gillie’s grandmother allowed him and his two sisters to move back to Kansas to live with their mother. Unfortunately his mother fell back into drugs, and all three of her kids were taken by the state.
After many legal battles, at age 15 J. Gillie and his sisters were returned to Delaware. In an effort to be different and not follow the path of his parents, J.Gillie graduated from high school with honors and then went on to earn his Bachelor of Political Science degree with honors at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, PA. In J.Gillie’s senior year at King’s he meet with filmmaker Christian Ball otherwise known as “Cball”. After working together on 5 music videos, Cball began managing and engineering J.Gillie’s music.
There afterwards, J.Gillie started working with producer Alex Collins who was a friend of Cball. In May 2013, J.Gillie performed his first headlining show at Mayday Music Festival in Wilkes-Barre,PA. Two months later J.Gillie went on a three day northeast tour with nationally known Los Angeles artist from “Kid Ink”. Shortly after J.Gillie’s lost a place to live. Until mid-winter, J.Gillie had been staying with friends on couches in unheated college houses in Wilkes-Barre. J.Gillie’s last week on the east coast before moving back to Kansas in December 2103, J. Gillie reached out to Cball and shortly after they recorded and released J.Gillie’s “Elmhurst EP”.
For the next 6 months, J.Gillie lived in Kansas working two jobs at a ymca and a middle school in the special ed department. After a long 6 months, J.Gillie bought a greyhound bus ticket to Connecticut to record his next project “5101”, which is the number of his childhood home in Kansas. Shortly after his arrival in Connecticut, J.Gillie performed in Avon Grove, PA and Kenneth Square, PA. Then soon after in the Connecticut area at the Hot 93.7 Community Festival and openings for Chris Webby and Kid Ink once again. After one summer, J.Gillie’s “5101” came to be one of his best projects yet. Following the release of “5101” J. Gillie moved to Philly.
After returning to Philly from Connecticut, J. Gillie moved in with close friend, and business partner, Donovan “Donnie” Womack. While in Philly, J. Gilllie still continued to make music, sending raw audio files to Cball, who was still in Conneticut, to master and send back. Many of the songs on, “Elmhurst Since Birth” were recorded at this time. J. Gillie knew he needed to handle things more on the business side of the industry to further bring popularity and exposure to his upcoming project. Eventually, Donnie introduced J. Gillie to his current head manager Mike McClay. Donnie was interning at the same company McClay worked for, slowly introducing him to what was going on musically. Then, after hearing all the music, and meeting J. Gillie, the two of them became close friends. They both are free spirits who are well-read and have a deep passion for music and realness. After being a part of the group for about six months, McClay decided to help get things accomplished on the business side. From the start, McClay’s business knowledge and resources helped J. Gillie’s brand gain notoriety, allowing for many press and label opportunities. During this period, McClay came on as the full-time manager for J. Gillie. McClay’s drive and determination played a key role in the team’s growth. Eventually, though, J. Gillie had to move from Philly, and went back to Connecticut to meet up with CBall to finish, “Elmhurst Since Birth”.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What city and state are you from?
J. GILLIE: I was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas. Eventually, I moved to Delaware at the age of 12, and it’s been my home ever since.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What is your music background?
J. GILLIE: My music background was really influenced by old school R&B because I was raised by my grandmother. As far back as I can remember my grandmother would play a lot of Luther Vandross, Teddy Pendergrass, The Isley Brothers, and many others. In a way, this allowed me to appreciate music that specializes in making people appreciate love. As I got older, my uncle, who lived with us as well, would take me around in his car while playing dudes like Ice Cube, X-Raided, N.W.A., and Jay-Z. That was really the first time I heard hip-hop in that forum and eventually fell in love. That’s why in my music you can feel elements of love and pain, which were inspired by both genres.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: Why do you want to record and release your own music?
J. GILLIE: I always knew I wanted to make an impression on the world. Even since I was a little kid, I was always the quiet person who was dying to tell people my outlook on life, but was always apprehensive to do so. Eventually, I found that I can manifest my message and impressions through music. I won’t say, like many artists do, that I was dreaming of becoming a musician since I was a kid. Honestly, I wanted to be anyone from the president to the weather man, but soon realized my unique talent in songwriting, which in turn propelled me to really take my dreams and aspirations of becoming a musician seriously. I feel like we all should aim to make an impression on the world, and the people around us. I just so happened to choose music, because it comes so naturally.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What are your songs about?
J. GILLIE: My songs are always rooted in something that inspired me mentally. Some songs are stories that people have told me over the years that really touched me mentally. Sometimes I just have to get some shit off my mind that many people can relate to. In the end, my songs are aimed to provoke someone emotionally. Whether it’s a song like, “How I’m Feelin” that can help someone get through a tough emotional time, or a track, like, “No Cosignz” that inspires someone to learn to get things on their own very passionately. Essentially, I make music to help others find a way to further figure out how they want to make their own impression on the world, which is a mind state that I believe in essential.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: Who is your fan base directed towards?
J. GILLIE: My fan base is directed toward anyone who wants to hear real music. What I mean by real music is sometimes you want to hear something that’s going to challenge your mind, and push you to a level that can only be achieved mentally. I remember a time when I was younger and was going through a tough time mentally and physically. I stumbled over an old 2pac record called, “Starin’ Thru My Rearview” and it couldn’t have came at a better time. That song honestly turned my anger into passion, and I’m sure that was his intention when he wrote it. I go into my songwriting in the same sense, finding ways to change things for people that they can’t. As we all know, there are so many people who use music to get through trying times, or to have a good time, so my fan base includes people who love real music.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: Who are your musical influences?
J. GILLIE: When it comes to musical influences, I generally look and take notes of people as far as their image and impact as a person, rather than just purely their sound. I feel that as a creative, if you want to truly create something original, which is extremely hard to do in music, you have to clear your mind. Many people listen to artists that are legends or popular, and try to emulate that (whether using their consciences or with their sub conscience) and unknowingly stray away from who they want to be. Individuals like Nas, 2pac, Biggie, Bone Thugs, Pimp C have had a heavy influence on me musically, but when I’m working on a project I honestly clear my mind of any influence besides myself.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: How would you describe your music to people?
J. GILLIE: I would describe my music as refreshing and impacting. I love music! My passion is a flame that is far from being put out. I’m proud to say that who you hear in my music is truly who I am as a person. I stand behind my words and stand for the people who support it. My music really touches people, and further makes the flame bigger. The effects I’ve seen my music have on people further shows me that I have chosen the correct way to leave my impression on the world. My music is my life.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What makes you stand out from other artists?
J. GILLIE: My overall passion. So many artists are, or it seems, uncomfortable about showing the world who they really are as a person. As I said, I was the kid when younger that never stood up for himself or made myself heard. When I’m making music, I do it in a way that gives the fans a chance to really get who I am, or who I’m trying to be. I’m a very interpersonal person, as are the many music lovers in the world. Compared to other artist, I’m not afraid to be who I truly am.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What are some upcoming projects you are currently working on?
J. GILLIE: By the time this interview comes out my newest project, “Elmhurst Since Birth” will be out which I’ve been working on for close to 6 months. This is my most diverse, well-rounded project I’ve done to date. It features a variety of different sounds, emotions, and points that I feel many of my fans and new fans will come to love. I’m excited to continue working toward my next project, which could possibly be done this fall. In the mean time, though, I will always be making and releasing new music.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What are your career goals? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
J. GILLIE: My goal is to look back on the path I’ve traveled and see not only see that my dreams have come true, but also those of my friends. I want to see that the path I chose to put my imprint on the world no only worked but made a difference. In 10 years, I want to be in the position musically and business wise to further spread the message of finding who you are in life and giving others the opportunities to follow their dreams. Of course I want to be highly successful in this industry, and feel (and know) that I have what it takes to make this dream a reality.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: How can your fans access your music and contact you?
J. GILLIE: My fans can find all of my music via SoundCloud: soundcloud.com/jgillie302. Also, they can find updates regarding shows, music, and what I’m doing via Twitter and Instagram: @jgillie302.