During the latest Grammy Awards, singer John Legend won the Best R&B Album. What people don’t know, is that behind this project, Joshua Karpeh mainly known as Cautious Clay worked on it, co-writing several tracks. While waiting for his highly anticipated first album, he’s slowly making his place in the alternative R’n’B musical landscape. After several EPs, 2021 seems to be the year where he is about to be under the spotlight with his first LP. His latest single “Roots” is about having an established history with someone and coming to the often difficult realization that things ultimately won’t last because of elements in the relationship that are toxic. Here our conversation with Cautious Clay!
You just released “Roots”, a powerful and intimate track announcing your first record. How important it was for you to come back with such a personal song?
It’s important to me to put out songs that are truly “my own”, to be honest. I think this song just spoke to a particular side of my experience with toxic relationships; writing music is a good way for me to reckon with it all.
You are working on your first album which will be out later this year. You seem to be someone who wants to take his time before releasing it. How is your process when it’s about making it?  
Making music for me is a pretty fluid, non-linear process. I can grab inspiration from anything at any point so it’s been more about when I choose to engage with that creativity and also how I want to organize it. I have hundreds of songs on my computer but it’s the process of compiling those into a finished album that is the hardest and most time-consuming part.
You are fully independent, is it a way to keep your creativity and to take the proper time to make it? 
I guess that is a part of it, maybe there isn’t the same type of demand to make a certain type of music. Even still, I think the best part is that I own my masters which at the end of the day gives me agency to use my music however I see fit.
After three EPs, is making an album that much different? Are you writing and thinking about different themes or topics you want to explore? 
The main difference for me is the length and also the awareness around what I feel defines me as an artist. An album really can give that type of identifiable information as to what an artist is “on” in the space of 1-14 songs. EP’s or singles have less weight to them and there isn’t maybe as much pressure into making sure it all fits together in the same way.
2020 was such a social and political year. Do you feel influenced by all that has happened lately?  
I think it would be crazy not to be influenced in some way. so much distance and so many frustrations. I absorb and release these emotions into music and videos.
You have been credited in several John Legend’s tracks. Do you feel more confident when A-list artists trust your songwriting talent? 
100%! I feel so lucky to be able to say I’ve worked with such a legend. I am also grateful that he would reach out to work with me, but I also don’t let it define me or shift the focus away from my music.
Do you have any dream collaborations?
Andre 3000 or Burt Bacharach.
Your songs have been featured in TV shows like Insecure, 13 Reasons Why, All American and more. What shows, if any, have you been addicted to recently? 
I’ve been into the show Big Mouth lately.