An indie singer/songwriter noted for her lush and textured, home-recorded production style as well as her pensive songs, Jay Som is the alias of multi-instrumentalist Melina Duterte. She collected early demos and previously shared songs for her first label release, Turn Into, in 2016. Jay Som refined and expanded her stylized sound while continuing to record at home for albums including 2019's Anak Ko.
The child of Filipino immigrants, Duterte was born and raised in the California Bay Area. She began writing and sharing music on social media while in middle school, cycling through various monikers over time until she eventually settled on the name Jay Som. It was created with the Wu-Tang Names Generator (the same website that turned Donald Glover into Childish Gambino). As Jay Som, she posted a series of tracks in the early 2010s before issuing a collection of select songs and demos called Turn Into in early 2016. It was co-released on cassette by Wave Dweller and Topshelf Records. Jay Som soon signed with Polyvinyl, which reissued the set in July 2016 as she began work on an official debut. In the meantime, she toured the U.S. and Canada in support of indie artists including Mitski and Peter Bjorn and John.
Jay Som's first record to be conceived as an album, the self-produced Everybody Works, arrived in 2017. While it offered an upgrade in clarity, it retained an intimate, bedroom pop sound. Everybody Works spent a week on Billboard's Independent Albums chart. Later in 2017, Duterte moved south to Los Angeles, where she found a kindred spirit in lo-fi singer/songwriter Justus Proffit, and the two began writing together. The collaborative EP Nothing's Changed followed on Polyvinyl in 2018. Jay Som's sophomore full-length, Anak Ko (Filipino for "my child"), arrived on the label in 2019. While written on a solo writing retreat in Joshua Tree and produced, engineered, and mixed by Duterte alone, it was her first solo album to feature guest musicians, including Proffit, Vagabon's Laetitia Tamko, and Chastity Belt's Annie Truscott, among others. ~ Marcy Donelson