When you’ve got a gift, your talent often speaks on your behalf. That’s the case for Melina Duterte, the 22-year-old genius behind indie rock act Jay Som you’ve likely read about as of late. The Bay Area songwriter melds dream pop, rock riffs, and hazy lo-fi noise with the ease of someone twice her age, yet Duterte’s only been in the spotlight for a little over a year. After uploading some of her songs to Bandcamp, she found a sea of fans waiting for music like hers to come along, and with her sophomore full-length, Everybody Works, now in their hands, most everyone can’t stop listening to it.
“It’s been very pleasant seeing how people receive the record now that it’s out,” she says over the phone. “I’ll always be very grateful for people listening to it. A lot of people like songs that I thought they wouldn’t like, so translating that to a live setting is curious because it winds up being a different response than I’d expect.”
Duterte’s got a knack for whipping up hooks and guitar solos alike, but she diversifies her songs enough to hide surprises in each. To figure out how spontaneous the rest of her interests are, we interviewed Duterte for a round of Wheel of Tunes, a series where we ask bands questions inspired by their song titles.
1) “Lipstick Stains”
DIGBOSTON: Where do you stand on bright lipstick colors? We’re talking neon green, light blue, lavender, those shades.
DUTERTE: Honestly, I’m for it because it’s very bold. I feel like, especially with makeup, if anyone puts colors that are too bright or too bold, I really admire that. I think it looks fun, like you’re a raver. I’m all for it. I used to have a lipstick like that. It was very bright and I thought it would be cherry red, but it was a super bright, almost hot pink-type color. I couldn’t adjust to it.
2) “The Bus Song”
DIGBOSTON: What’s your most memorable experience on a bus?
DUTERTE: Definitely when this guy sat right next to me and pulled out a bong and ripped it right in front of everyone. No one cared. He just smoked a bong on the bus. It was on the Muni in San Francisco. It was a busy, busy bus. It shows how no one really cares what you do on the bus, which is kindof gross [laughs].
DIGBOSTON: Name two items you can’t bring yourself to discard of?
DUTERTE: Oh my gosh. I have these pair of headphones that I’ve had for three years. They’re both broken. The earbuds aren’t even attached to the headset part, but I can’t bring myself to toss ‘em. Even the right side of the headphones don’t work well so I can’t listen to music very well, but it just feels so good. I can’t get rid of that.
I also can’t get rid of this dumb white striped shirt that I wear all the time. I wear it way, way, way too much. It’s in like every picture of me. Maybe it’s too much of a good thing.
4) “1 Billion Dogs”
DIGBOSTON: What dog breed deserves more love and why?
DUTERTE: Poodles definitely deserve more love. I used to really not like them because I thought they were kind of not cute and their barks were ugly, but you know what, they’re dogs and that’s all that matters. They do what they want.
5) “One More Time, Please”
DIGBOSTON: Daft Punk’s “One More Time” or Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time”?
DUTERTE: That’s so hard. Daft Punk’s “One More Time” because I love that song too much. It’s not that I don’t like Britney, but if I have to pick then I’d definitely go for Daft Punk.
DIGBOSTON: Are there any romantic nicknames that make you roll your eyes?
DUTERTE: Probably ‘honey’ or ‘honey bunny.’ I don’t like those. Ugh. Yeah, it makes me sick. I’m just kidding, but I do actually not like them [laughs].
DIGBOSTON: Would you rather have one hairstyle for the rest of your life but it takes 5m to style, or change your hairstyle each month but it requires 1 hour each morning to style?
DUTERTE: Oooh! Hm, probably the second option because I feel like I’m pretty patient. One hour isn’t too long and having a crazy cool new haircut would be pretty rad. You might have healthy hair if you pick the first one, but might as well go wild.
8) “Take It”
DIGBOSTON: Have you ever gotten a gift that you were reluctant to accept?
DUTERTE: My auntie is really good at giving me presents I don’t want, especially clothes. She travels a lot, so she will always buy me things like a sexy, fuzzy tube-top from Greece that says “Monday is the best” or something on it. It’s always so cheesy. It’s hard, but I have to say, “I don’t like these,” because I have to be honest, but she keeps giving me them anyway. I guess I shouldn’t complain.
9) “Everybody Works”
DIGBOSTON: Besides being a musician, what’s your dream job?
DUTERTE: I feel like someone asked me this and I immediately knew what I wanted to be. Oh man. To be honest, it would probably involve animals. Maybe a professional pet-ter or pet-ist [laughs]. Probably that, someone who pets dogs, like who just pets animals. Yes, that’s exactly it.
10) “For Light”
DIGBOSTON: Where was the best sunset or sunrise you’ve ever seen and why was it so special?
DUTERTE: I think it was when I was in Spain in Madrid or Barcelona. I was doing touristy stuff during October and it was very beautiful. I’m not going to lie, I started crying because it was so beautiful. There’s something special about seeing a European sunset versus an American one. It’s a nice change. I was definitely alone and saw it while wandering.
JAY SOM, THE COURTNEYS, HALFSOUR. TUE 3.28. GREAT SCOTT, 1222 COMM. AVE., ALLSTON. 9PM/18+/$10. GREATSCOTTBOSTON.COM