If pressure makes a diamond, then overlooked and broken instruments from yesteryear direct the creative arc of Jay Som—aka Oakland-raised, Los Angeles-based producer, songwriter, and musician Melina Duterte. Even when lacking proper rest due to sweltering temps.
“Canʻt Sleep”, a previously unreleased nugget from the recording sessions from her last album Anak Ko (released as a streaming single this week with a physical 7-inch release in May), sounds unthinkable when considering how and when it was made. Duterte explains the sitch this “fever dream” tune came from.
“‘Can’t Sleep’ was made in August or September 2017 while I was living with my parents in between US tours before I moved to LA. I think I had all my gear packed away somewhere that I couldn’t access, so I used instruments leftover in my childhood room: a broken acoustic guitar, chopsticks on a snare drum, a bad hi-hat, and my trumpet. Everything was recorded through the laptop mic. I was pretty frustrated with the California heat and the fact that I couldn’t record properly, so this sort of fever dream song was born.”
The Jay Som dream-pop project—whose name came from random baby name generator—kicks off a massive international tour this month, starting in Australia before heading to Japan, the UK, Europe, and finally returning stateside for some shows with Sharon Van Etten and Julien Baker. She is also slated to perform at some summer festivals, including Governor’s Ball, Boston Calling, Virgin Festival, and more.
Weird and intimating situations seem to be a sweet spot Duterte thrives in musically.
Everybody Works, Jay Som’s debut, reset 2017 qualifications for what indie rock would look and sound like in the 21st Century. Recorded and produced at the time in her Oakland bedroom during three “heavily caffeinated” weeks, the shoegaze, acoustic-folk, and slinky R&B collection was accessible, personal and distinctly human—topping every major music platform Best of 2017 record lists at year-end.
Duterte completed her sophomore record, Anak Ko (pronounced Ah-
The lead track on the new streaming single, “A Thousand Words,” carries a different sentiment than the homestyle b-side joint.
“This song was made after a year of extensive touring plus a canceled tour. I forced myself to make a sort of big and jovial song to bring me out of the funk I was in. I also wanted to remind myself that music can be fun! It was heavily inspired by Bruce Springsteen, Elliott Smith, Pavement and that song ‘Alright’ by Supergrass.”