Jay Clem is a former collaborator of The Residents from their earliest days, best known as the treasurer of The Cryptic Corporation from 1976 until his departure in 1982.

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

Delta Nu and Ralph Records

Jay Clem met the group who would eventually become The Residents in the early 1960s 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.[1]  After college, the group splintered and went their separate ways.

Around 1970, Clem moved to San Francisco and reconnected with the group, who by this time operated out of a small apartment in San Mateo. He was present at their October 1971 performance at The Boarding House with The Mysterious N. Senada.[1]

Clem continued to work with the group, now named The Residents, following their relocation to a two-story former print-works (nicknamed "El Ralpho") on Sycamore Street in San Francisco in 1972. Here, Clem appeared as the protagonist 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.

The Cryptic Corporation


Jay Clem with Snakefinger, 1978

In 1976, along with Homer Flynn, Hardy Fox, and John Kennedy, Clem co-founded The Cryptic Corporation, who 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.[2]

In 1977, Clem 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

In 1982, Clem left The Cryptic Corporation and Ralph Records 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 is referenced by name in "Shorty's Lament" on the group's Intermission EP, a song written in the wake of his resignation. 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.

Later life

In 2015, Clem was interviewed for the documentary Theory of Obscurity: A Film About The Residents. In the documentary, he declines to elaborate on the reasons for his departure from the group.

In 2018, Clem's voice was sampled on Uni's cover version of "Boo Who?" on the I Am A Resident! album.

See also

External links and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 Jim Knipfel, "Somethin' Devilish: The Untold (And Finally True) Pre-History of The Residents 1963-1971"
  2. Nathan Tucker, "Rock Is Dead, Long Live The Residents", Antigravity Magazine, 2018
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