This is my friend from Clemson, Clay.
We met, of course, through Clemson's student-run radio station, WSBF. I met all of my best friends from college through the radio station one way or another. One of the unexpected benefits of going to such a backwoods, yee-haw cow college was that the weird people congregated pretty quickly. To give you an idea of what we had to work with, we always made it a point to attend one of the cultural highlights of year: Spittoono, a self-described redneck festival held at the National Guard Armory. After the spittin' contest and mud dancing, we would go to the lake for a midnight swim.
If co-opting Spittoono was our tradition, the frat boys at Clemson held the tradition of dressing up in their finery for the Clemson home football games, when the population of Clemson quadrupled and the campus became a parking lot for tailgaiters. I love beer and nice clothes as much as the next man, and needless to say the frat boys at Clemson were first-order douchebags, so we made our own tradition wherein we too could dress pretty and get drunk. That tradition was the Red Eye Society, where we would get up early on MLK Jr. Day (8ish), put on red ties, and drink all day long.
We may have not have been the most normal people by Clemson's standards, but Clay was way out there. The first time we hung out, he brought a crate of CDs to my freshman dorm. Lush, Momus, Pulp, etc. -- he'd been listening to a lot of really good music for a really long time, and none of it was Jack Johnson. In person, Clay is totally unassuming, but like Popeye with a mouthful of spinach, in the presence of music he becomes another person entirely. Some of my favorite memories of college were the WSBF house shows where the no-talent local bands (term of endearment) would play badly and too loud. For a blessed couple of years, Clay would fill in between bands at these house shows as Karaoke Klay. Once he had set up his equipment and pressed play, he was no longer Clay. I don't know if I've ever seen someone commit to something as completely as Clay did to becoming Karaoke Klay. The images of a house full of drunk outcasts from a Greek life/Fellowship of Christian Atheletes/Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management (Party Right Through May)-major college like Clemson, singing along with KK to Mr. Roboto and of Clay humping the floor during the breakdown of "Hungry Like the Wolf" will be forever burned into my mind.
Clay doesn't have a traditionally "good" voice, but he knows and loves too much good music not to know how he sounds. And I think it's awesome. He's been making his own music for years, and he recently made an album called "The Monkey of Love". You can hear it on his myspace page. He's made me a few mix CDs over the years too, and while unpacking my place in Boise a couple weeks ago I pulled out this gem:
It's a compilation of exotica/lounge/orchestral pop he made me a couple of years ago, and for whatever reason, it really grabbed me. I've been listening to it a ton the past couple of weeks. I don't have much of this sort of thing in my music library, but there are some fun, catchy songs on here. If you hate kitsch or groovy female vocals stay away, but if not, I invite you to take a peek into the mind of a very unique guy.