Jay Clem is a former collaborator of The Residents, as well as a former treasurer of The Cryptic Corporation from 1976 until 1982. He now operates as an independent real estate professional in the San Francisco Bay area.
Clem functioned primarily as business manager for Ralph Records, and was effectively the first spokesperson for The Residents, conducting the majority of the Cryptics' early interviews with the media on their behalf.
Association with The Residents
Jay Clem met the group who would eventually become The Residents in the 1950s at C.E. Byrd High School in Shreveport, Louisiana, where he studied with Homer Flynn and John Kennedy. Clem continued to associate with the group after they graduated high school and moved to Ruston to study at Louisiana Tech. Here, they made the acquaintance of fellow student Hardy Fox, and the loose group of eccentrics and artists formed an "anti-fraternity fraternity" named Delta Nu. After college, the group splintered and went their separate ways.
In July of 1970, Clem moved to San Francisco and reconnected with the group, who had been operating out of a small apartment in San Mateo for the past year. He was present at their October 1971 performance at The Boarding House with The Mysterious N. Senada.Clem continued to work with the group, now named Residents Uninc., following their relocation to a two-story former print-works (nicknamed "El Ralpho") on Sycamore Street in San Francisco in 1972. Here, Clem starred as Steve in The Residents' unfinished film project Vileness Fats, shooting fourteen hours of footage with the group for the project before it was eventually abandoned in 1976.
Clem also assisted the group informally with the launch of their independent record label Ralph Records in 1972, which released their debut EP Santa Dog and album Meet The Residents. Throughout much of the early 1970s, Clem would occasiaonlly assist the group in the studio, and most notably contributed lead vocals for the track 'Whoopy Snorp'. Hardy Fox later recalled that Clem's last recording work with the group may have been for Not Available (In 1974), but was unsure. As Clem settled into his role as head of Ralph Records, he became less interested in collaborating with the group.
Shortly after the abandonment of Vileness Fats in early 1976, Clem, along with Homer Flynn, Hardy Fox, and John Kennedy, co-founded The Cryptic Corporation, took over the operations of The Residents' record company Ralph Records, hiring more employees and signing more artists to the roster. Clem took the role of treasurer in the new company, although his function was more as a business manager.
In 1977 he appeared in The Residents Radio Special as the primary spokesperson for The Cryptic Corporation (and by extension, The Residents), a role he would continue to perform for the group in interviews and media appearances until his departure.
Departure and legacy
After over a decade of working with the group, in 1982, Clem became the second of the founding members of The Cryptic Corporation and Ralph Records to resign from the company, due in part to the companies' worsening financial troubles, and hesitation about The Residents' impending debut touring performance, The Mole Show (which ultimately lost a great deal of money for the group). Clem's departure is directly referenced in the lyrics of "Shorty's Lament" on the group's Intermission EP. His resignation was shortly followed by that of John Kennedy, who left the following year, leaving Homer Flynn and Hardy Fox as the sole remaining founders of the company. Clem returned to college in 1982, and completed his studies at Golden Gate University in 1986. After finishing college he became a licensed realtor in the San Francisco Bay area where he continues to operate.
Californian band The Young Penguins dedicated a song to Clem; simply entitled "Jay Clem", the song refers to the group sending him tapes and speaking to him on the telephone during his time at Ralph.
In 2015 he was interviewed for the documentary film Theory of Obscurity: A Film About The Residents. In the film he declines to elaborate on the reasons for his departure from The Cryptic Corporation. His voice was later sampled on Uni's version of "Boo Who?", which was featured I Am A Resident! in 2018.
- The Delta Nudes - Greatest Hiss (2013, recorded 1969 - 1973)
- The Residents Present The Delta Nudes (2016, recorded 1969 - 1973)
- Theory Of Obscurity - A Film About The Residents (2016, Interviewee)
- Jim Knipfel, "Somethin' Devilish: The Untold (And Finally True) Pre-History of The Residents 1963-1971"
- Hardy Fox - Ask Hardy Shit (July 15, 2017)
- Nathan Tucker, "Rock Is Dead, Long Live The Residents", Antigravity Magazine, 2018