Multifaceted musician makes meaningful music


Michaël Dooley has been playing guitar for almost ten years and teaches himself to play piano so he can accompany himself in his tracks which he publishes to Spotify. Photo Courtesy of Karen Dooley

Sam Brook, Staff Reporter

As sophomore Michaël Dooley sits in front of his computer, he sees all of the different tracks in his newest song lined up in front of him: drums, bass, synthesizers, guitar and vocals. He puts his headphones on, presses play, and hears every instrument and sound he has made come together as one. He’s self conscious about his voice at first, but then after a couple more listens he’s ready to send the new music to a couple close friends for input. After several nervous minutes, he receives a plethora of “love this!!” texts. The outside opinions affirm his decision to press the button, uploading his first original song to Spotify under his alias, Catylact.

His love for music came from an early exposure to the 70s and 80s pop on an iPod his dad gifted him when he was 6 years old. He started playing guitar in first grade and plays minimal piano by self-teaching and Sequoia’s piano class. He was attracted to electronica partly because of its accessibility.

“Music like that could be created by anyone, even me,” Dooley said.

He personally communicates with many electronica artists by text and Twitter. He met one of his favorite artists, Case and Point, in Boston when he reached out to them after seeing a Twitter post claiming they were there, too. They encouraged him to keep making music and to “make what you want to hear, not what you think other people want to hear.” This artist was on a record label that Dooley loves called Monstercat. He has connected with many other artists on the label.

“I like the label because their artists are just normal people making music that they want to hear,” Dooley said.

Dooley’s Spotify artist account includes original songs—using his guitar, keyboard and voice. Currently, he has two songs available, both published under a category which he labels “indie electronica.”

“Where are We” was made in the beginning of 2017. His more recent release, “Mistakes”, was created around the same time. However, he returned to it this September and released it after gaining some confidence on the piece and working on it for some time. Dooley felt apprehensive to publish a piece where he both sings and plays his guitar during many parts of the songs. He creates the songs on his computer using Ableton Live, a digital audio workspace app. At Stanford, he developed familiarity with the technology through classes and teaching himself.

Unknown to most people, Dooley spent most of elementary school lifein hospitals receiving chemotherapy. In eighth grade, he almost spent Thanksgiving separated from most of his family and friends in the Massachusetts General Hospital to receive radiation therapy for the growing brain tumor that sits on his optic nerve threatening his eyesight. Dooley has been fighting cancer since he was diagnosed at two and a half years old. He manages to make positive memories of his time spent in various hospitals including Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. He fondly remembers playing legos with a friend in the three-week recovery after his second open brain surgery. In second grade, he started Avastin chemotherapy, but he also received his new best friend, Goldie, his service dog.

Following his intense chemotherapy, Dooley is in remission. He started Sequoia’s Unite Against Cancer Club. Every other Thursday he meets with his club Vice President, sophomore John Horan and the club members to find ways to help local cancer organizations such as Lucille Packard. In years of being tested on and tried out for new treatments, Dooley believes it is important to always keep an open-mind.

“Stay open to anything because there’s always new things on the horizon, and just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s bad.”