Jay Som a.k.a. San Francisco Bay Area-based talent Melina Duterte is pure girl power. The guitar rock goddess single-handedly wrote, recorded, played and produced her debut album Everybody Works (out now on Double Denim EU/UK/Japan / Polyvinyl Records North America), in three furious weeks of caffeine fueled work in her bedroom studio. The result is a dreamy intimate guitar pop record that’s a must listen.
We hit up Duterte to ask her some essential questions, here she is talking naps, believing in aliens and Terminator 2: Judgement Day.
What’s your worst habit?
One of my worst habits is definitely staying up too late. There are so many distractions out there – phone, computer, Netflix, food etc. I usually stay up until 3am or 4am.. it’s bad.
Tell us about a recent dream you’ve had…
I recently had a dream where one of my good friends completely roasted me in front of a huge group of people, I proceeded to cry and everyone started manically laughing. Not the best dream to have.
Do you believe in magic?
David Blaine or Harry Potter magic? I mean I don’t know and don’t care, I think aliens are real.
Who is the most famous person in your phonebook/dm’s?
I don’t know any mega famous people so all of my friends are famous in my heart!
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I’m a certified black belt but I have yet to use my defence skills on anyone – maybe it’s for the better.
What are you scared of?
I’m lowkey scared of the dark still! I have to use a nightlight when I sleep.
Is punk dead?
Definitely not, I know for sure there are thriving punk communities everywhere around the world but, I’m also not a punk expert.
If you could go back in time, when and where would you go?
I would for sure go back in time to 1990 so I could be on set for the making of Terminator 2: Judgement Day, and maybe hang out with Arnie. That’s my only wish, no drastic changing of history.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Be kind to yourself and others. It’s definitely been a recent realisation that has helped me through tough times as a young adult. We tend to be so selfish and caught up in the way others view/treat us when one of the most important things is caring about yourself and the way you treat others.
What’s your greatest regret?
I once skipped an e40 concert to take a nap, will never do that again.
How was high school?
High school was mostly awful for me. I kept to myself and stuck to music because it was my saving grace. I was also a huge stoner and never paid attention to my general studies so I was pretty annoying. Regardless, I had a very tight and loving circle of kindred spirits in music classes and I made all of my favourite memories with them.
What is the closest you’ve ever come to death?
I was born with pneumonia so right out of the womb! I was stuck in the hospital for weeks and doctors tried to do some freaky science experiments on me during that time and now I have these weird mirrored scars on both of my legs. I’ve actually had pneumonia two times after that so it always feels like death.
Have you ever broken the law?
Definitely, I’m a criminal!
When and why did you last cry?
Last time I had my period I was cry-sobbing to Forrest Gump, rightfully so.
Is the glass half full or half empty?
Definitely half full, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.
What’s the biggest problem facing humans as a species?
We’re extremely destructive and selfish as humans, it’s evident in our history and treatment of planet Earth.
Who or what is the biggest threat to the music industry?
Possibly those in higher positions that prey on younger artists to exploit and ruin their personal and professional careers for their own gain.
What’s your writing process?
I usually record an idea I have for a melody or riff onto my phone then I play around with the structure and arrangement for the foundation of the song. Lyrics usually come last because I’m more inclined to focus on the interplay of instruments and how they connect as a whole.
What do your family think of your music?
I think they all like my music. They always tell me to turn up my vocals so they could understand my lyrics. My mom likes to “Cha Cha” to my dance songs and it’s very cute.
How would you describe your sound?
I’ve been told this before and I agree – music for stoners that don’t smoke. I guess it’s relaxing and understated? I don’t really like to say Indie because I think it’s more than that but I’ll let people think whatever they want.
What’s your go to karaoke song?
Usually ‘Complicated’ by Avril Lavigne but if I’m feeling extra freaky I’ll do ‘Total Eclipse of The Heart’ by Bonnie Tyler and get way too into it – I’m talking jumping on tables, screaming and all that.
What would your biography be titled?
“Who is she?”