Melina Duterte is a master of voice: Hers are dream pop songs that hint at a universe of her own creation. Recording as Jay Som since 2015, Duterte’s world of shy, swirling intimacies always contains a
disarming ease, a sky-bent sparkle and a grounding indie-rock humility. In an era of burnout, the title
track of her 2017 breakout, Everybody Works, remains a balm and an anthem.
Duterte’s life became a whirlwind in the wake of Everybody Works. After spending her teen years and
early 20s exploring an eclectic array of musical styles—studying jazz trumpet as a child, carrying on her
Filipino family tradition of spirited karaoke, and quietly recording indie-pop songs in her bedroom
alone—that accomplished album found her playing festivals around the world, sharing stages with the
likes of Paramore, Death Cab for Cutie, and Mitski.
In November of 2017, seeking a new environment, Duterte left her home of the Bay Area for Los
Angeles. There, she demoed new songs, while also embracing opportunities to do session work and
produce, engineer, and mix for other artists (like Sasami, Chastity Belt). Reckoning with the relative
instability of musicianhood, Duterte turned inward, tuning ever deeper into her own emotions and desires as a way of staying centered through huge changes. She found a community; she fell in love. And for an artist whose career began after releasing her earliest collection of demos—2015's hazy but exquisitely crafted Turn Into—in a fit of drunken confidence on Thanksgiving night, she finally quit drinking for good. “I feel like a completely different person,” she reflects. Positivity was a way forward.
The striking clarity of her new music reflects that shift. After months of poring over pools of demos,
Duterte, now 25, essentially started over. She wrote most of her brilliant new album, Anak
Ko—pronounced Ah-nuh Koh—in a burst during a self-imposed week-long solo retreat to Joshua Tree. As
in the past, Duterte recorded at home (in some songs, you can hear the washer/dryer near her bedroom) and remained the sole producer, engineer, and mixer. But for the first time, she recruited
friends—including Vagabon’s Laetitia Tamko, Chastity Belt’s Annie Truscott, Justus Proffitt, Boy
Scouts’ Taylor Vick, as well as bandmates Zachary Elasser, Oliver Pinnell and Dylan Allard—to
contribute additional vocals, drums, guitars, strings, and pedal steel. Honing in on simplicity and groove,
refining her skills as a producer, Duterte cracked her sound open subtly, highlighting its best parts: She’s
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