Our love for his debut album is anything but deadpan. With the new album out last Friday, we spoke to Cautious Clay to ask him more about Deadpan Love and the music he creates.
Capturing flawlessly, the influences from R&B, hip hop and indie pop in Cautious’ trademark sophisticated songwriting and jazz-and blues-inflected instrumentation, the debut album also contains previously released singles such as ‘Roots’ and ‘Wildfire’, both which have already had between 2 to 3 million streams on Spotify.
Says the artist,
“Deadpan Love is something that I have inside me; the way I cope with the worst of what the world has to offer.”
“So much of life and relationships are spent in gray areas—we mistreat the people we love and we’re friendly with the people we hate. This is an album about those complexities in friendship, investigating toxic behavior and self-worth.”
Indeed, it has been about three years since the release of his breakout debut single ‘Cold War’, and 28-year-old Cautious Clay has been on a whirlwind ride. Apart from the release of this album, the artist has also released three EPs—Table of Context, RESONANCE, and debut Blood Type —that have earned critical praise from The New York Times, The New Yorker, NPR, TIME, Complex and many more.
AL365: Hi Cautious Clay, Vanessa here from AsiaLive365. Thanks for speaking with us. Congrats on ‘Deadpan Love’. What can you tell us about this new album? For instance, what was it inspired by?
Cautious Clay: This album is a further exploration of identity and relationships examined through humor, compassion, empathy, escapism and frustration.
AL365: Is there any track in the album that stands out in particular? Perhaps one that was difficult to write or a track that is more personal to you?
Cautious Clay: “Box of bones” feels very personal to me. It wasn’t that difficult to write but it was the last song on the album that I wrote and it directly deals with my anxiety around broadcasting myself publicly. It’s rather dark but at the end we are all “boxes of bones” and I wanted to think about that idea more plainly in the context of what runs through my head when I feel anxious and want to calm down.
AL365: How would you, in your own words, describe your music style?
Cautious Clay: A precise yet uninhibited sound bath. I love to use dynamics and negative space to create rhythm and emotions in my vocal delivery and production ideas.
AL365: We heard that you were inspired to play the flute after watching Aladdin. Tell us more about this story. Was it also your first exposure to making music?
Cautious Clay: Yeah! Haha I was probably around seven years old when that happened and it inspired me to pick up the flute. I loved movies and was super into Aladdin and for whatever reason flute really inspired me as an instrument from that experience of watching a character play what I thought was flute. I ended up being wrong in my assumption however as it ended up being some sort of oboe or gourd instrument. Nevertheless, I stuck with playing it because my Mom had gotten it for me and it still fascinated me even though it wasn’t exactly what I expected it would be from the movie.
AL365: When did you realise that you wanted to pursue music full-time?
Cautious Clay: Probably my first year out of college was when I realized I wanted to make it a reality somehow. I had a day job but I hated it so I saw music as my best way out of it.
AL365: What road do you think you would have taken had you not decided to take the music one?
Cautious Clay: I probably would have gone to graduate school for geography.
AL365: You’ve collaborated with a few artists so far including John Mayer, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, John Legend. Are there any artists that you hope to work with in the future?
Cautious Clay: Andre 3000 or Stevie Wonder.
AL365: What achievement in your music career are you most proud of at the moment?
Cautious Clay: Continuing to stay independent and having full control and reactivity over my vision is definitely an accomplishment I feel grateful for. Not sure proud is the right word but it is definitely something that I feel has been a defining part of my career thus far.
AL365: Besides the new album, what’s next in the pipeline for Cautious Clay?
Cautious Clay: I’ve been scoring music for the second season of a TV show called Godfather of Harlem starring Forest Whittaker that is coming out this year as well. I wrote a few original songs for the show but also arranged a few jazz standards from the period it takes place in.
AL365: Is there anything you would like to say to your fans out there?
Cautious Clay: Thanks for all the support 🙂 It keeps me going <3
AL365: Thanks again Cautious Clay! Looking forward to the album!
Listen to Deadpan Love below.
Special thanks to Secret Signals.