Joshua Karpeh, also known by the stage name Cautious Clay, is making waves in the music industry. Karpeh started off by remixing other artists’ songs on SoundCloud, publishing a remix of Billie Eilish’s “Ocean Eyes” before she made it big. He eventually made the leap into composing and releasing his own music.
Since then, the Brooklyn soul singer has been changing the game with his unconventional beats. His debut EP, Blood Type, was first released in 2017 and then re-released in 2018 with an additional song. Also in 2018, Cautious Clay dropped his second EP, RESONANCE.
The multi-instrumentalist took to the Boston Calling stage on Sunday afternoon. He played songs from his EPs, as well as teasing the crowd with some unreleased singles. Cautious Clay gave a great performance vocally, but he also showed off his other talents. At times, he would pick up his saxophone or flute to accompany the band.
His soothing voice made his performance one of the chiller sets on the final day of the festival (Sunday was the day dominated by high-energy rock and hip hop stars). His laid-back vibe made for a low-key, yet engaged, audience.
Karpeh surprised the audience with two unreleased songs, including one that was co-written by John Mayer. He closed out his set with the hit “Cold War,” a song that was featured on HBO’s Insecure. He completed the song by playing an extended solo on the saxophone and exited the stage as the crowd cheered.
Over Memorial Day weekend, I had the chance to spend a few minutes chatting with Cautious Clay about his Boston Calling performance, his love for creating tunes, and what’s next for his career.
Mia Vittimberga: So you’re going to play Boston Calling in a few hours!
Cautious Clay: Yeah.
How are you feeling?
I’m feeling great. I’m super excited. I’ve been to Boston a few times. I think I actually played like, my third show ever here at Great Scott in Allston.
Yeah, it feels really good.
So about two years ago, you quit your day job to pursue music full-time.
I did, yeah.
What’s been the most surreal thing that’s happened to you since then?
Oh man…probably becoming friends with John Mayer. He had me on a show, which was super cool. I had listened to his music, mostly his trio stuff though, before I met him. It’s pretty cool.
So now that you’re in the music industry full-time, what would you say are your favorite and least favorite things about it?
The industry? Oh, good question. Least favorite is probably doing the mundane things. Sometimes I just feel overwhelmed by all the non-musical aspects of it that I’m forced to do.
So anything that isn’t making or performing music?
Pretty much, yeah. I’m a musician at heart and I just want to create my music. It sounds super petty, saying it out loud. Anything other than the music just feels like a chore to me.
You’re super busy right now, playing Boston Calling this week and Gov Ball the next.
*Laughs* You bet.
So what have you been doing with what little free time you have?
I’ve been hanging out with my partner and the band a lot. I might take some trips this summer, relax before I go on tour. Also making music. But I’m always making music.
Have you been listening to any music?
Oh yeah, always.
Sure. I’ve been listening to Stormzy a lot. I’ve also been listening to Tina Marie. Some old school… that’s most of my playlist right there, though.
Is there anything you’re working on at the moment?
I’m working on a new project set to drop this fall. I’m also on tour in the fall, so that’s pretty crazy.
Awesome, it was great talking to you. Good luck at your set later.
Yeah thanks, later!
Listen to Cautious Clay down below.
Featured image by Rebecca Taylor / Boston Calling