It’s been a little over six weeks since the rotation-hot release of Justus Proffit + Jay Som’s first collaborative EP Nothing’s Changed. Meaning, it’s been just enough time for the L.A. bedroom rockers to gain steam and bring their sultry vibes and schmaltzy verses to a boil. As a complement to their Nothing’s Changed album review we released last month, KEXP scored a follow-up interview with the stylish singer-songwriters to hear some deeper cuts about how they started this project, humorous connotations of the album, their favorite collaborative duos, plus what’s next for them – and those of us itching for more (hint: sounds like good news is on the way).
KEXP: Justus Proffit, I know you were first to reach out and make contact with Jay Som. How did you first become interested in her music? Could you speak a little about why Jay Som and why at this time in your careers?
Justus: I played with Jay Som for their record release in San Francisco. I was playing for my friend Niko Escudero. We initially became friends from there on. I saw that Melina moved down to L.A. and I had a few songs I wanted to track so I hit her up with no serious intentions. My music career has never really been planned out really. I’m just going with the flow of things basically.
Jay Som (Melina Duterte), how would you describe your connection to Justus Proffit before he reached out to you? Any backstory as musicians between you two?
Melina: I hadn’t heard his music until after meeting him! I remember checking out his Bandcamp after Niko played our release show and thinking, “Damn, this dude is good at music.” When we started hanging after I moved to L.A. I actually thought he was a Bay Area native because he’s got this swag, a very kind swag. I don’t think I know anyone that can write a song as impetuous or dope as him.
What are some of your favorite collaborative records or duos, new or old, in your genre or not?
Justus: John Lennon & Yoko Ono's Double Fantasy. That’s a dark record, but my all time favorite. I can’t think of any other ones that really pop for me.
Melina: The most recent collaboration I can think of is David Byrne and St Vincent. Really loved those two geniuses together, plus that track "Who" goes off so hard.
Did any elements from them bleed into your process or desired outcome of your own collaboration? If so, how?
Justus: I don’t think so, every song was inspired by certain artists for sure, but specifically a “collab record,” no.
What is the most exciting variable about collaborating with a new musician? And on the other side of that coin, what is the most challenging dynamic and/or biggest surprise?
Justus: The coolest thing about collaborating with another musician, in general, is learning their little tricks, I like jamming with a lot of people because it helps me get out of my own head. That would also be the most difficult part about it.
If Nothing’s Changed were a meal and a mood (e.g. greasy fries in the park, etc.) what would it be?
Justus: It would be a Snacc. Hehe.
Melina: It would def be a sandwich on the beach at night.
If “My World My Rules” were in a movie what kind of movie would it be and what would be happening in the scene?
Justus: It would be an action movie with Nicholas Cage... Preferably National Treasure... 5.
Melina: If “My World My Rules” were in a movie it'd be in a villainous superhero crime movie, probably in a scene where everyone is gearing up for a big fight. Starring Jason Statham.
You two recorded in Duterte’s home studio, which is rad in itself. Fill us in on the mise en scéne of your jamming and/or recording space. Is a certain vibe or ambiance important to either of you to get in a generative headspace?
Justus: Besides this collab, I have tracked all my own music by myself and every time I record I try to put myself in a creative headspace, but it doesn’t always pan out that way. It’s nice recording with someone else because when someone gets mentally exhausted the other person can pick up where the last one left off.
Melina: Conveniently having all the essential gear you need for a basic home studio makes it so much easier for friends to come in and jam out and work on stuff. I’m really interested in producing and engineering work so it’s so much more fun and less stressful to wear a different hat once in a while. My room is pretty small and not too cluttered, but there is a drum set that takes up most of the space. Regardless, it was easy to end most of the days because we wrote so fast and didn’t let the small space feel like it was stifling us in any way.
Regarding the creative process, was there anything about this collaboration that opened up a new perspective for you or allowed a certain kind of exploration that you haven’t experienced in your respective solo projects?
Justus: Totally. Every time I jam with other people my perspective changes, that’s why music is so fun for me, I love to see growth in all aspects.
Melina: I learned so much from Justus. Using a bunch of brainpower to stick to ideas that pop up in your head and also welcoming mistakes and keeping them for the final takes.
What’s next for both of you? Can we get stoked about another Justus Proffit and Jay Som release in the future?
Justus: My first LP is coming out in March on Bar/None Records. And me and Melina could definitely whip something up, maybe soon, we will see. Me and Melina will be on the road in December!
Melina: I’m still tracking the next record and getting ready for the Justus + Jay Som tour next month. Hopefully next year we can knock out an EP or a record together — Justus is the fastest songwriter I know, it’s insane.
The Nothing's Changed EP is out now via Polyvinyl Records. The duo kick off a brief tour on November 30th in Oakland; no Seattle date (yet?), but check here for the complete schedule.
The collaborative EP from Justus Proffit and Jay Som "crystalizes their poignant stylizations of singer-songwriter that transcends their signature, bedroom rock modus operandi."
"Invisible Friends" is the second single from the duo's upcoming EP Nothing's Changed