Jay Som represents the musical vision of San Francisco singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Melina Duterte. Constantly shifting, that vision embraces indie, alternative, pop, and even a little shoegaze assembled by its architect’s hand like an infinite puzzle with no border. This unpredictable sonic sensibility is threaded together by melody but never bound to it. Turn Into, a collection of finished and unfinished songs written, recorded, and mixed between March 2014-October 2015, offers a snapshot of her musical evolution up to this point.
Her self-described “headphone music” is the product of a full musical immersion that began during her childhood in the Bay Area. Born to a DJ dad and singer mom, she spent her formative years studying old cassettes and records as well as performing on the family karaoke machine. She picked up trumpet before eventually teaching herself guitar.
Duterte started uploading her music to Soundcloud as Jay Som—a moniker she randomly found via an online baby name generator meaning, “Victory Moon.” By 2015, she had accumulated a growing following on Soundcloud and Bandcamp. After a few too many glasses of wine on Thanksgiving, she decided to unveil an early version of Turn Into online, performing every instrument—guitar, bass, keys, and drums.
Signing to Polyvinyl Records, Turn Into gets a proper release in 2016. Its first single “Ghost” simultaneously haunts and hypnotizes as her voice hums a shimmering harmony punctuated by fits of fuzzed-out six-string emotion, acoustic unease, and poignant personal lyricism.
Elsewhere, “Why I Say No” rides the crest of a surf guitar swell, while a whimsical and wild guitar lead jostles “Next To Me.” The distorted trudge of “Drown” beckons, while the title track offers a sun-soaked send-off.
2016 also saw her release a one-off 7-inch of “I Think You’re Alright” and “Rush” on Fat Possum Records in addition to embarking on her first proper tour with Mitski and Japanese Breakfast. Next up, Duterte will release her official full-length debut album for Polyvinyl in 2017, further welcoming listeners into her vision.
Like Bradford Cox at his most tranquil or Martin Courtney at his most psychedelic, Jay Som’s Melinda Duterte creates an atmosphere that feels like a hazy, slowly deteriorating memory.
"They're deceivingly textured and intricate pop songs—flush with nimbly intertwined guitar melodies and distressed fidelity—that should continue to resonate outside of San Francisco…"
"an impressive collection of autumnal guitar rock..."
"Duterte’s strength and determination runs through Turn Into like a molten iron core, a firm anchor and foil for her gauzy instrumentation and melodies."
"Jay Som’s power...rests in her ability to sculpt sadness into strikingly different and mesmerizing forms."
"Turn Into is dreamy bedroom pop album that is fiercely independent and poignant in its lyrics and melodies."
“Enthralling guitar noise”
“listeners are called to open their eyes to a tricky, and careful arrangement that sounds like one of the greatest long lost beloved, and treasured songs you will swear you have known forever — but are in reality just hearing it for the first time.”
“dreamy, fierce alt-rock...stunning intimacy and carefully crafted melodies”
“Her songs feel familiar—they draw you in, and then transform into something dreamier, darker, and more complicated than you might have assumed.”
Ghost (3:10)Neil Davis