Young Fil-Am making a name for herself in US indie rock scene
Penny-pinching, ambiguous relationships, and depression are three things that young Filipino adults tend to complain about on social media or live through on a day-to-day basis.
But rarely has these anxieties been coupled with "grander themes of artistic ambition, identity and independence," as NPR Music termed it, and successfully channeled into a work like Everybody Works, the debut album of Filipino-American songwriter Melina Duterte.
Praised by NPR, Spin, New York Times, and Past, the intimate and emphatic album was written, arranged, played, and produced in a span of three weeks by Duterte and released under her moniker of Jay Som in March.
Sites lauded the album's uncomplicated but emotionally complex lyrics, intricate soundscapes, and showcasing of Duterte's ability to transition from mellowness to sharp, spiraling aural and lyrical peaks.
Her songs — most notably The Bus Song, Take It, and the title track Everybody Works — also jolts listeners with its relatable dilemmas: figuring out if friendships mean something more, taking power from depression, and living paycheck to paycheck, among others.
Apart from her musically diverse sound, Jay Som's presence has been noted as diversifying a "white-male dominated" — as she described it in an NBC News article — indie rock scene as a queer-identifying female Asian-American.
In interviews with Pitchfork, KQED, and She Shreds, Duterte said growing up with the musically-inclined environment her Filipino immigrant parents raised her in influenced her sound.
She told She Shreds in particular that her parents' hardworking lifestyle "tied into" her views of music, while her father's old DJ-ing days and mother's penchant for singing karaoke every day allowed her to pick up singing.
"If you have someone in a household who is always singing and who’s always doing karaoke, you’re gonna pick that up," Duterte said.
Jay Som will tour the UK, the Netherlands, US, and Canada from May until October this year. —KBK, GMA News