Credit: Leeor Wild

There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.

Cautious Clay

For anyone dealing with naysayers who think a music minor will never be used, direct them to Deadpan Love, the debut album from Cautious Clay, out June 25 via The Orchard. Clay (née Joshua Karpeh), a George Washington University graduate who minored in jazz studies, demonstrates both his music theoretical and practical abilities as a writer on all fourteen tracks. Clay mixed two of the songs; the track “Artificial Irrelevance” showcases the same saxophone prowess that dates back to his days as a performer in college Latin and jazz ensembles. “It was fun,” admits Clay. “The saxophone on that song was very, very purposeful, which is also why I loved it. It was sort of similar to how you hear somebody like Sarah Vaughan or Carmen McRae where they sing and then there’s a horn line that comes in between. I wanted to take a similar format with that song.” Clay’s blend of jazz, R&B, electronica, and hip-hop first gained notice with “Cold War,” a 2018 single—a slow burner of a hit that took a year to build an audience, but eventually garnered the attention of Taylor Swift, who sampled it for her song “London Boy.” “It was a hit but it also wasn’t,” says Clay. “It took a long time. At no time did it just explode. It definitely was the song that people loved.” Hopefully the love will continue for Clay as he performs as part of the women-led line-up of Haim, St. Vincent, and Charli XCX of All Things Go Music Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion on October 16. “I love All Things Go,” says Clay. “They’re amazing. It will be my first appearance at Merriweather, which is insane. I’ve never even been to Merriweather, so I’m stoked.” The album will be available via all streaming services starting June 25. To purchase the colored vinyl, visit shop.cautiousclay.com. Free–$22.50.