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Less than a year ago, Josh Karpeh, professionally known as Cautious Clay, released “Cold War”—the buzzworthy debut single that would go on to land a prominent feature in this month’s premiere of HBO’s Insecure, a show known for its stellar syncs. Right on the heels of that look, Karpeh has dropped “Crowned” (now on Spotify's New Music Friday) as part of the re-release of refreshingly intimate spring EP RESONANCE, a set marked by its rich melodies and tasty spaciousness. Before hitting the road with other promising newcomers Gallant and Alina Baraz this fall, he chatted with us. Why? We don't know, but we're sure he regrets it in retrospect.

Lyricism is clearly important to you. What sprouted your appreciation for words? Was it always music? Or did it start with more freeform creative writing?
I really liked poetry as a kid which is funny because I didn’t always like to read; I guess I’m just fascinated with how words come together and sentences and can create something visual that way.

When you’re crafting a song, what comes first for you—the lyrics or the melody? Is the process generally methodical?
It’s always case by case. A lot of times I just start on one thing melodically—or if there’s a beat I really like, I’ll just write to it.

Repeatedly insisting that you don’t want to be loved in the chorus of a song [on "Joshua Tree"] is both bold and atypical, as well as wildly intriguing. Do you not want to be loved because love is risky, distracting and all-consuming?
Yeah, I would say the latter is true. Love can be very intimidating at times, because you have to really commit yourself to a person in a way that allows you to be hurt. I feel like everyone is capable of love, but not everyone is In a position to do so. Also, before people can truly love, they have to love themselves; I think that's important.

I’m intrigued by what seems like a tug-of-war going on inside you when I listen to “Joshua Tree.” Content wise, the second verse is sweet and appreciative. But it seems like you’re trying to push those feelings away in the choruses and bridge the follow.
I'm definitely trying to go through my feelings in a way that takes into account the good and bad of being in a relationship with someone. Nothing is ever black-and-white.

Where does the moniker Cautious Clay come from? For someone whose art really tackles some of the more difficult parts of existence with such fervor and grace, it surprises me to think you might identify “as careful to avoid potential problems or dangers”—as the definition of the word cautious would suggest.
The name stems from being very particular about my sounds and ideas when I’m creating music. "Cautious" could also be seen as “particular."

At the end of “French Riviera,” you say, “Something ‘bout intention that makes all the difference. I wanna be different.” When you made that proclamation, were you referring to one area of your life or multiple? Were you referring to your intentions as an artist or as a member of society, as a man, as a lover, as a friend or as a family member, etc? And how do you do that? What does being different in 2018 America mean?
This lyric is really addressing not being too caught up in what other people are doing. It's about focusing on creating something for myself. In a lot of ways, I feel like the intentionality of a lot of people can get really caught up with the wrong things or things that don’t have any lasting meaning. I don’t think everything always has to have meaning, but sometimes it’s good to challenge what people think.

To me, RESONANCE stands out when compared to your other work, vibe wise. It sounds more confident and assertive, and maybe even a little annoyed at times. Why do you think that might be?
I think content wise my emotions are outward facing in both Blood Type and RESONANCE. With Blood Type, I feel like there was a more poetic approach, while RESONANCE had a bit more of a direct picture of my thoughts and feelings.

Did you write “Elsewhere” before or after the release of RESONANCE? It almost sounds like an extension of that project… like the bridge between the RESONANCE and Blood Type collections.
No, I actually wrote that a few months before. I feel like I have writing styles that bridge across both projects; direct as well as an indirect, more poetic style.

What do you want fans to take away from the experience of listening to the seven tracks of Blood Type? Are they ordered intentionally? Is there a specific ride you were hoping to take people on?
I really hope that I can improve people's perspectives on relationships, and growth in relationships with a variety of different people. The order was definitely intended to help the songs flow into each other; it just felt right.

For the most part, to the passive listener, your music comes across very breezy and groovy. If one wasn’t paying close attention to the lyrics, which are actually so self-aware and almost psychiatric, they might consider you to be pretty carefree. Is that contradiction intentional?
Yeah, I’m very intentionally melodic in my approach. In most cases I think the “contradiction” allows people to take away a variety of different things from how I express myself.

How did you know you wanted “Cold War” to serve as your introduction to the world? What made you want to lead with it?
I had Blood Type almost finished as a project at that point and basically sent "Cold War" to a few friends, along with other songs, and that was the one that resonated most.

As a writer, which song are you most proud of?
"Stolen Moments"

If you could collaborate with anyone currently making music, who would it be and why?
Kendrick Lamar, mostly because he’s so versatile as a rapper and vocalist/writer. He’s always pushing the envelope.

What are you most looking forward to, when it comes to your upcoming tour?
Definitely getting tighter with my band and focusing on some of my new songs.