Jay Som signing story

Signing Story: Jay Som

Jay Som signing story info

Drinking and using the Internet can certainly have its downside. Take posting nude selfies, for example. But for at least one budding musician, it was a sloppy decision that paid off big-time.

It was Thanksgiving last year, and a tipsy Jay Som--a.k.a. Melina Duterte, a 24-year-old queer Asian-American singer-songwriter-multi- instrumentalist––was fielding questions online from fans about when she was going to finally release an album.

Previously, Duterte put out songs about once a month, building a viral presence by what she calls “messing around” with drums, bass and guitar. “I recorded half of the demos at my parents’ house in my old bedroom, the other half in San Francisco,” she says.

On that fateful Thanksgiving day, the Oakland-based artist responded to her online fanbase by taking nine of 20 songs she had recorded and uploaded them as a half-finished collection called Turn Into.

“Polyvinyl said they were okay with me recording in my own bedroom.”

Soon she started sending out her demos and email pitches to labels. Polyvinyl Records (Of Montreal, Mates of States) hit her back.

Duterte says she had most of her Polyvinyl conversations over drinks and by phone with the label’s manager, Seth Hubbard––which was convenient because, like Duterte, he lives in the Bay Area. Co-founder Matt Lunsford broke the news to her that Hubbard had given Jay Som the green light.

“Polyvinyl really care about the artists without being too [meddling] in their careers,” Duterte says. “One of the labels told me to record my songs in a studio, but Polyvinyl said they were okay with me recording my own stuff in my own bedroom.”

The label, despite its string of success in the indie-rock world, was equally hands-off while Duterte was recording what would become her first proper album, Everybody Works.

“They checked in once in a while during the recording, but supported our Summer tour with advertising and scheduling,” she says.

Polyvinyl has rolled out Duterte’s music (with a re-release of Turn Into) but she’s giddy to see Everybody Works see the light of day on March 10.

“I’ve been ready to release it, because that’s what I’m used to.”

The maturing artist qualifies, however: “But it’s way better for the label to give some love to the release. That’s what I really prefer.”