Joshua Karpeh aKa Cautious Clay is known for hits such as Cold War and Erase.
Joshua Karpeh aKa Cautious Clay is known for hits such as Cold War and Erase.

Joshua Karpeh: Carving a name for himself cautiously

American musician Joshua Karpeh, has been slowly becoming a popular figure across the globe with hits such as Cold War and Erase, talks to us about the rising popularity, his unique musical sensibilities and his connection to India.
Hindustan Times | By Samarth Goyal, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 08, 2020 02:54 PM IST

Up until the second half of 2017, Joshua Karpeh was working in a real estate firm in New York, US but the job “didn’t agree” with him. Within a year of quitting the “reasonably well-paid job”, he had released an EP titled Cold War under the moniker Cautious Clay. “It ( his job) was something that I started doing, after college. But I wasn’t very happy doing it, and I don’t think they agreed with me either (laughs). I always was drawn to music, and I always wanted to be one (a musician). Even while I was working, I would play music, try to make compositions, and play with others as well,” he says.  

“The name, Cautious Clay, of course was inspired by the great Muhammad Ali (he was born as Cassius Clay). But the word Cautious was to sort of showcase the patient side of me. I am someone who takes time with their music and doesn’t always rush into things,” he adds.

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Unlike other musicians, Joshua understands the reasons behind why his music appeals to people. “I think it’s my voice, and something to do with the sense that people like the texture of my voice and they way I sound,” he says. “Musically as well, I don’t want to be boxed down by genres or different things. I just like the idea of creating music, and there’s a lot of influence of music that I have listened to while I was growing up, and that reflects in my music as well,” adds Joshua, who apart from working as a solo musician, has also worked with artists Taylor Swift and John Mayer.

Soon after he released Cold War, it started making waves in the underground circuit, and as of today, its video has almost a million likes that was released last year on YouTube. “Yes it was a great response. [It was] something which I never expected, to be honest. There was a lot of heart that I put into it, and I guess that’s what people really liked,” Joshua tells us.  

Since his first EP, Josh has slowly carved a fan base for himself, and his music has reached only more ears. Another one of his singles, Erase, was picked by the popular gaming creators EA Sports and it features in their game, FIFA 20. “Yeah, it was something that I just thought would be cool. I never thought that people would like it so much and it would get popular in other parts of the world as well. But yeah, it’s been great,” he beams.

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There is an irony about the song and how it got popular which is not lost on Joshua. The song talks about the pitfalls of social media and the world of Internet, and yet, it became a global number, not through the game, but when it was released on YouTube. “I know it’s a great place. You can release your music, and the whole world can listen to you, without any problems. But at the same time, there is this bubble, that people tend to get stuck in, and just look for social validation, which I think is not right,” he says.

Maybe that’s the reason he is not surprised that his music is getting popular and is being heard across the globe now, including India. That does not mean he is not excited about the fact that “people like” listening to his music. “It’s great to hear that people are listening to the music I create. I actually do listen to Indian music, and I did try learning the sitar. I also almost did come to India to perform at a music festival, but unfortunately things didn’t work out. I guess, I would love to come to India one day and would love to perform!” he concludes.

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