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Music Journeys: Jay Som

Oct 18, 2019

Melina Duterte who performs as Jay Som
Credit Jay Som

Jay Som performs Saturday night in Columbus at the Basement.

It's the creative outlet for California-based musician Melina Duterte. In this edition of Music Journeys, you'll hear all about her new release Anak Ko, the Jay Som moniker’s origin, her inspirational message about change, and of course her responses to the Fast Five. Music Journeys can also be found on TuneIn Radio. Thanks for listening.

Tenderness plays...

In some ways, Melina Duterte's career has just begun. The 25-year-old has been recording and performing as Jay Som since 2015, although the idea came a few years before that. 

"I actually started Jay Som my senior year of high school in class,” Duterte said. “I was on a baby name generator and came out with that. I thought it sounded really cool and just kind of rolled with it. I think my intention has always just been to make music for fun."

Superbike plays...

Duterte grew up in California's Bay Area with parents that loved music. 

"I grew up around a lot of R&B and funk records from my dad,” Duterte recalled. “He was a DJ in the 70s and 80s, and my mom just loved music. She used to play guitar and sings a lot. So naturally I wanted to learn how to play music. I started playing guitar when I was 8. I started writing and recording music when I was 12, and it’s just been the same thing since.” 

If You Want It plays…

Duterte quickly became part of a community of musicians through sites like myspace and bandcamp. She wrote, recorded, played, and produced just about everything on her first album as Jay Som in 2017. Duterte has a similar workload on her latest release, Anak Ko. 

Anak Ko plays...

"This new record is basically a snapshot of what's going on in my life right now,” Duterte said of Anak Ko. “How I’ve been dealing with adulthood and making music my career. The lyrics are a little more simple, but it holds deeper meaning for me, especially the title. That was inspired by my mother and what she calls me all the time because it translates to my child. I feel like it put this warm blanket over the record which is really nice. I'm not making super bold statements with it, but the bold statement is that I love making music."

Nighttime Drive plays...

"Nighttime Drive encapsulates everything I'm trying to talk about the past three years,” Duterte said. “It's a classic touring song but more in a positive light. There's lots of inside jokes in it, but I'm trying to capture the feeling of being on the road and feeling numb and accepting this is your job. You're always on the road, and you know you're going toward something but you don't know what it's leading to because you’re just going and going. I think that's what it's like to be in the music industry.” 

Devotion plays...

"Devotion is clearly about wanting to change and not even being scared about changing but kind of accepting it with wide open arms,” Duterte said. “I think I've been dealing with that word and what it means to me. I think it's a never-ending quest to understand what change means. It can go into every facet of your life. It could be a mental health thing or physical health. It could be in relationships with your family and friends. But most of all, I think that change is always within yourself. You have to really work to change certain parts of yourself. Not just modify your behavior, but change to be a better person.”   

Crown plays...

"I think I wanted to be a little more refined for this one,” Duterte said of the Anak Ko release. “The first record I would accept one or two takes for each instrument. But for this new one, I made sure every take I was playing sounded good. I think music allows this space and freedom and space for solitude in a way you can't get in the outside world. It can be this really magical and frustrating thing because it's not common to be in this position. You're touring all the time, and as a solo artist you’re not even in a band. It's very isolating, but it is an extreme privilege to have this. The fact that I can pay my rent now because of music means the world to me. Always writing and recording music whenever I want to is a dream come true.”

Melina Duterte aka Jay Som performs Saturday night in Columbus at the Basement, and for those outside of Ohio there are several dates coming up so check out the tour schedule at jaysommusic.com.