California-bred solo artist Jay Som—real name Melina Duterte—is a favorite here at Vinyl Mag and indie pop’s newest gem. Though describing her music as just “indie pop” is limiting; her sound has a harsher, grittier element that separates her from other artists in her genre. Musically gifted, Melina plays all the instruments on her records herself. The arrangement flows naturally, evident in the effortless instrumentation in her songs. Her first record, Turn Into, was a collection of demos that ended up getting more attention than she had expected. Her most recent album, Everybody Works, is the first official record Melina created for release and a treat for anyone who appreciates honest and raw musicianship. We were fortunate enough to have a chat with her about the new record and her love for her dogs.
Vinyl Mag: You recently played SXSW. How was that whole experience?
Melina Duterte: It was very very fun and super overwhelming. We had 10 showcases, which was all my fault. I really wanted to have the SX experience. Other than that, it was cool. I got to see a lot of bands.
VM: Congrats on the release of Everybody Works. We love it here at Vinyl. It’s also getting a lot of attention from music sites like Pitchfork and SPIN. Is it a relief to get such a positive response on something you essentially poured a part of yourself into?
MD: Of course. I think like, this being the very first album I’ve worked on with a label, for it to have such a positive and wide reception is amazing. It’s still very crazy to me that people buy the record and come to the shows.
VM: Everybody Works is musically similar to Turn Into, but there’s obviously been an evolution that’s taken place. How would you say you’ve grown as an artist in between the two records?
MD: I guess in terms of my musicianship and kind of my ability as a producer. It’s been more refined throughout the year. Turn Into was just like a collection of demos. In between Turn Into and Everybody Works, I had enough time to sort of grow. It’s a natural, organic sort of progress.
VM: The music video for “Baybee” has a bit of a Wes Anderson vibe. Was that your intention?
MD: That’s the first time someone has said that.
VM: I think it was the fur hat. It’s very Moonrise Kingdom.
MD: You know what, now that you mention it, yeah! I do see that. All credit goes to the directors, Charlotte Hornsby and Jessie Ruuttila. It was all their idea.
VM: You do a great job of capturing dreamlike instrumentation while still maintaining a rock ‘n’ roll edge. Do you make a conscious decision to merge the two or is that just something that naturally unfolds?
MD: Something that naturally unfolds. I listen to, I guess you would say, harder music? I’m very interested in guitar rock. I like loud dynamics.
VM: You’re also a trumpet player. Is there a chance for more brass in future Jay Som tracks?
MD: It’s definitely on this record. I didn’t make it very obvious though. I wasn’t like, “here’s the trumpet!” I think in the future I will have more. I’m experimenting a lot with how the trumpet sounds.
VM: We’ve been stalking your Twitter and couldn’t help but notice you have a very cute dog. Is it hard to go on the road without him?
MD: Oh my gosh, yes. I have two dogs. They live with my parents. It’s very hard to be away from them. They’re just the cutest and sweetest dogs ever. All dogs are great. I get very homesick, and actually petting a dog is so therapeutic. It’s crazy to be away from them for so long.
VM: Speaking of Twitter, you recently tweeted that you might quit music to live on a farm. Should we be worried?
MD: Absolutely not. That was definitely one of my post-tour emo moments. I was tired. We were driving back from the Pacific Northwest, and there were just lots of farms we were passing. I definitely love farms, but that’s in the very far future.
VM: Do you have any music recommendations for our readers?
MD: The band Palm just released a song called “Walkie Talkie.” They’re coming out with an EP soon. They’re literally the best band ever. We saw them a million times at SX. Also, if you could see them live, that’s very important.
VM: What’s your dream artist collaboration?
MD: Definitely Andy Shauf. He’s this songwriter from Canada. He has this super funky accent. He makes incredible music. It really is one of my dreams to work with him. I think he’s on a whole different level.
Catch Jay Som on tour now. Seriously though—do it. Dates below:
FRI 19 MAY – The Green Door Store, Brighton, UK
FRI 19 MAY – The Great Escape 2017, Brighton, UK
SAT 20 MAY – Paradiso Noord, Tolhuistuin, Amsterdam, Netherlands
TUE 23 MAY – The Garage, London, UK
WED 24 MAY – Sebright Arms, London, UK
FRI 26 MAY – SUN 28 MAY – Sasquatch! Music Festival 2017, George, WA, US
THU 1 JUNE – SUN 4 JUNE – Nelsonville Music Festival 2017, Nelsonville, OH, US
TUE 6 JUNE – Rough Trade NYC, Brooklyn, NY, US
WED 7 JUNE – SUN 11 JUNE – Northside Festival 2017, Brooklyn, NY, US
THU 8 JUNE – SUN 11 JUNE – Bonnaroo Music Festival 2017, Manchester, TN, US
SAT 17 JUNE – Potrero Del Sol Park, San Francisco, CA, US
FRI 30 JUNE – Mountain Winery, Saratoga, CA, US
SAT 29 JULY – SUN 30 JULY – MO POP Festival 2017, Detroit, MI, US
THU 3 AUGUST – SUN 6 AUGUST – Pickathon 2017, Happy Valley, OR, US
SAT 9 SEPTEMBER – Meow WolfSanta Fe, NM, US
SUN 10 SEPTEMBER – Fox TheatreBoulder, CO, US
MON 11 SEPTEMBER – Reverb LoungeOmaha, NE, US
WED 13 SEPTEMBER – The Back Room at Colectivo, Milwaukee, WI, US
THU 14 SEPTEMBER – Subterranean, Chicago, IL, US
SAT 16 SEPTEMBER – Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto, ON, Canada
TUE 19 SEPTEMBER – The Sinclair, Cambridge, MA, US
FRI 22 SEPTEMBER – First Unitarian Church, Philadelphia, PA, US
SAT 23 SEPTEMBER – Rock & Roll Hotel, Washington, DC, US
SUN 24 SEPTEMBER – Local 506Chapel Hill, NC, US
MON 25 SEPTEMBER – The Masquerade, Atlanta, GA, US
WED 27 SEPTEMBER – Sidewinder, Austin, TX, US
FRI 29 SEPTEMBER – Valley Bar, Phoenix, AZ, US
SAT 30 SEPTEMBER – Soda Bar, San Diego, CA, US
SAT 30 SEPTEMBER – SUN 1 OCTOBER – Music Tastes Good Festival! 2017, Long Beach, CA, US