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From The Vault: Cautious Clay Live From Studio 10

Written by on January 4, 2022

To round out 2021, Vocalo’s digital team is reflecting on the artists and creators who help make our station (and our city) great. Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Cautious Clay was featured on Vocalo’s “Most Played Songs” of 2021 playlist with his song “Strange Love,” featuring Saba, and “Top 10 Albums” list of 2021 with “Deadpan Love.” Cautious Clay performed at Vocalo’s Studio 10 and chatted with Jill Hopkins back in January 2020, following the release of his debut EP “Table Of Context.” Stream the performance and interview below.

Cautious Clay is the stage name of singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Joshua Karpeh.

Joshua’s music career began around 2017 when he quit his job as a real estate agent and decided to pursue music full-time.

In the short span of a few years, he released several projects, along with his EP “Table of Context,” embarked on several tours and gained attention and critical acclaim for his blend of Soul, R&B and Indie Rock.

Joshua joined us in Studio 10 with his band in 2020 for a live performance and took some time to talk to Jill Hopkins about his then-new EP “Table of Context.”

Jill Hopkins: How would you describe your new EP “Table of Context” in relationship to your previous releases?

Cautious Clay: I feel like I’ve been in this kind of place of exploration for a while now. I’ve been working in real estate for about two years before I started any type of music thing. And now I’m starting to feel like I’m fully in it. And I feel like, in some ways, that’s the context of my life. So, with every project, including “Table of Context,” I’m giving an insight into what my daily life feels like, and what’s going through my mind. And there are a lot of conversations about what is purpose and what is happiness, and whether or not you need purpose for happiness or vice-versa happiness for purpose. That’s sort of the thesis of the project. But to be a little bit more obvious with what it means, on the cover, I’m actually sitting at my desk where I make all of the music. So that’s the “table of context.”

You are a DIY kind of a guy, but you’re also not new to the music industry. When did you realize it was time to make that leap into pursuing music full-time?

Well, I’ve been playing backup saxophone in bands for some time, which is very different than being a front man of a band. My first show was in March 2018, so it’s been a very big fast track for me just because I didn’t really know how to have “stage presence,” talk to an audience, command an audience – all these things are just things that I’ve had to learn. And I’m still learning. So I feel like it’s different for every artist, but I feel like I’m making it my own.

You’re from Cleveland, Ohio. How has Cleveland influenced the art that you make?

I felt very isolated in Cleveland, actually, but in a way that was almost okay. You gotta just do it on your own there. There are a lot of different scenes, but I felt like I didn’t really fit into any of them. So I took a little bit from everything. I went to the Cleveland Music Settlement for private lessons in flute and I had an instructor who actually changed my life. His name is Greg Pattillo. He was actually one of the early pioneers of the beatbox flute. Yeah! He blew up on YouTube back in like 2006 when he did the Flight of the Bumblebee, and he beatbox fluted to it. He taught me flute for my first two years, from seven to nine. I feel like his influence, and obviously being in Cleveland and everything, was huge for me because he was a very creative person, very innovative, and he gave me that perspective that like, if you play flute, it doesn’t mean you have to play classical music, doesn’t mean you have to play even jazz. You can literally beatbox with it if you want to. So at seven, I feel like that was just a huge part of my whole ethos of, like, being creative and what that meant to, you know, break the rules and not necessarily feel like you had to conform to anything. Nowadays it’s trendy to say, oh, “genre-less music” — but it’s not just about the genre, it’s about like how your creative process works, what you think about when you’re making music.

Audio recorded by Collin Ashmead-Bobbitt.

Live performance filmed by Manuel Martinez and Seamus Doheny.

Podcast and videos produced by Fyodor Sakhnovski.

More from Vocalo:

Cautious Clay Sits Down With Vocalo At Lollapalooza 2021