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Moods: Mood: Quirky Pop: Beatles-pop Rock: Adult Alternative Pop/Rock Rock: Paisley Underground Rock: Acoustic

By Location
United States - Maryland

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Douglas Chay

An enigma to some, a tunesmith of some note to others, and an unknown quantity to most, Chay performs all the instruments and vocals, overdubbing guitars, bass, piano and drums.

He readily admits to drawing inspiration from Bowie, T. Rex, the Velvet Underground, early Yoko Ono, James Brown, Badfinger and Brian Eno. However, the music of his forbears is filtered through Chay's own distinctive world view and sonic approach, resulting in a creation uniquely his own.

Simple without being simplistic, accessible without being sycophantic, and clever without feeling smug, the music of Douglas Chay achieves a compelling balance between the new and the familiar. --Scott Hollis (NPR)

When Chay was but a wee lad, his unsuspecting parents showed him a large Tupperware container of children’s musical instruments. Wide-eyed and delighted, he pointed, blurting, “Is this mine?” Not waiting for an answer, he took possession of the zither, the harmonica, the triangle, the toy piano and busied himself in an Asperger’s haze for the next three hours.

Soon he discovered that when one climbed high enough, pans, fine china, and drinking glasses were accessible and, more importantly, made additional noises when struck. After sweeping up another former dinner plate, his parents quickly came to regret owning any object that could make a noise, that is to say anything whatsoever. But, alas for them, they lived in the then-modern world in which physical possessions were a necessity, thus providing Chay with limitless potential noisemakers and his parents with limitless growth opportunities and learning experiences.

One day, after rummaging through a walk-in closet, hidden behind the polyester print dresses and mothball scented trousers he discovered a beautiful grown-up person's Spanish strung acoustic guitar which his father had stashed and promptly forgotten about after an aborted attempt at lessons. He knew that it would be exceedingly naughty to steal the guitar and that such act would be discovered forthwith, so as to make taking it useless in the first place.

However, being so much quicker than his dull-witted parents, he navigated a discussion such to reveal ownership and borrowability of said guitar, which, under the firm but kind tutelage of Mr. Mel Bay, became the ticket to proving that the music he was constantly hearing in his head was not, in fact, evidence of auditory hallucination.

Spending every day for the 3 summer months, exercising impressive self-discipline, he discovered that with two tape recorders running at the same time he could sing and play with himself. The inability to translate his music effectively yielded a large cache of crappy songs, some of which survive to this day and would do nicely for a Meg Ryan film, should there ever again be such a thing.

A few short years later, a beam of heat struck through the top of his skull pulling him out on his first strand, after which he returned with a lovely tune that took all of ten minutes to write but was better than his previous 59 put together.

By this time, he had a job as a video boy standing behind a counter and handing the VHS slipcases to customers who wished to inspect them. Back then, cardboard slipcases were apparently in such high demand that they had to be protected by paid staff. Using his earnings, he bought a 4-track cassette machine which, despite the appearance of a Fisher-Price toy, did the job remarkably well, and he embarked on recording what became his first release, The Deal Box.

To his surprise and delight, the cassette was given enthusiastic reviews in national magazines, and he suddenly received $3 checks from people all over the country requesting a copy. The songs were even “taught” in a music class at a college in far-away California, and the one song with the naughty word was played multiple times on the CBC, thus allowing Chay to truthfully claim international success.

College was the best thing that could have happened for the young Chay, and the university radio station, WUSC shone like a beacon in the night. It was the most adventurous and exciting radio since John Peel. He quickly ingratiated himself there with his popular-amongst-drunks-who-were-just-kicked-out-of-the-bars 3-6 AM Sunday morning radio show, and by befriending the truly weird and wonderful DJs.

His second cassette received significant airplay, blew up his head and, with no social skills and being unfamiliar and thus uncomfortable with receiving positive reinforcement, knew not what to do when the g-word was thrown at him like a spitball. He responded like anyone with the genetics of a raging pustule—by going into a deep depression and writing 42 songs, eventually pared down to 26 and released as Dishwasher and the Washing Machine.

The double length cassette came wrapped in a colored cellophane wrapper, an honest to goodness J-card and a 6 panel two color insert, along with an original chop stamp on a round blue sticker for good measure. Peaches Music in Five Points sold them on consignment and whenever he needed extra money he would stop in and they would hand him some cash, as he handed them another stack of cassettes.

He started playing live shows, opening for various groups like Flaming Lips, American Music Club and Connells, the latter at which he yelled at the noisy audience to “shut up” so that they might better enjoy his solo acoustic set. His encouragement failed to achieve the desired effect, but on the plus side, the Connells themselves were very friendly and this made up somewhat for the audience’s rejection, which, of course, he took personally.

Once Peaches stopped handing him stacks of money, there was no need to hand them more cassettes. Radio turned its attention to the next big thing, and thus ended the saga of Dishwasher and the Washing Machine. Until it sold for $30 on ebay in 2015. Suddenly doing a 26th Anniversary Edition remaster with bonus tracks seemed like a good idea.

For the small handful of you who remember it from the first time around, hopefully you will enjoy the trip down memory lane. F those of you who have never heard it, he hopes it will take some of the horror of life away for a few fleeting minutes.

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