Jay Som Takes a New Collaboration With Justus Proffit on the Road
The bands start their U.S. tour with a set at Oakland’s Starline Social Club.
Justus Proffit, left, and Jay Som, right, take their show on the road and plan on “rocking forever.”
Photo by Kris Kirk
The story is familiar: Bay Area-based musician makes it big, packs up their bags, and moves to our more glamorous Californian sister down south. But making the switch from Oakland to Los Angeles isn’t all bad — though we miss having indie rock star Jay Som (aka Melina Duterte) here on our home turf, the new geographical region had led her into fresh musical territory.
Since the release of her critically acclaimed album Everybody Works in 2017, Duterte has ascended from crafting DIY bedroom pop in her literal bedroom to playing giant festivals and touring with The National. But she’s maintained her DIY sensibility all along, still recording, producing, and playing every instrument herself on each song she writes. Since moving to LA, her most recent release is an EP with Justus Proffit, Nothing’s Changed.
Proffit is an LA singer-songwriter who reached out to Duterte when he heard she was moving to his city. The two had met before, when a band he was in opened for Jay Som at a show at Brick and Mortar in San Francisco. At first, they only intended to meet for a casual jam session and maybe record one song.
But then, said Proffit, “It snowballed.” The two musicians ended up recording five different songs over the course of five days.
“Doing the whole EP was really easy. It was actually stupid easy,” said Proffit. “We were just messing around the whole time.” They wrote the songs so fast they didn’t even finish learning them all the way before recording, and opted to keep little mistakes on the record so it remained organic and fun.
You can hear how naturally Proffit and Duterte mesh musically in the easy blend of his brighter tone and her softer backing vocals. Title track “Nothing’s Changed” sounds breezy, opening with a heavy sigh and unhurried acoustic guitar twang — complete with an unexpected trumpet solo at the end. Each song on the EP clocks in at around 2 minutes, which Proffit says was a conscious choice.
“We just wanted to keep it short, keep it snappy. We could definitely drag those parts on longer, which a lot of people would do, but we were just like, ‘nah,’” he explained.
Duterte and Proffit are taking the show on the road for a small U.S. tour, kicking off on Nov. 30 at Oakland’s Starline Social Club with openers Boy Scouts and Heaven’s Blade. Just like the songs themselves, they plan on keeping their set short and sweet.
“We don’t want to keep everybody waiting. I don’t ever like seeing a band for a full 45 minutes,” said Proffit. “It’s really fun to see a band and you’re like, damn, they’re already done?”
But don’t worry — the two will play all five songs on the EP, plus a few Jay Som hits and some of Proffit’s own material. And the end of this tour isn’t the end of Duterte and Proffit’s musical collaboration, either. They plan to keep writing together, with both working on each other’s respective new albums.
“We definitely are gonna be rocking forever,” said Proffit.
Fri., Nov. 30, 8 p.m., Starline Social Club, 2236 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Oakland, StarlineSocialClub.com.