● First, you’ve got a unique indie sound indeed. Well done! Tell me more about the beginning of your musical journey.

Thank you! That is one of the best compliments you can get as a musician, in my opinion. A lot of people sound the same.

Growing up, I was exposed to a lot of different styles of music.

As a boy, I took piano lessons and developed a fascination for learning music. Played percussion for the junior high band and in high school, I sang with the acapella group. My focus eventually became singing and playing the guitar.

Started a band with my brothers and a couple of our friends. We did well with writing and performing rock music. It was through touring with my high school band and playing festivals that I truly got the feel for being part of a successful band.

When it was time for college, we split up and I picked up an acoustic guitar.
I moved to Austin, Texas and started listening to folk music. I was studying music theory at the University of Texas. My minor was Radio, Film & TV program. They had a semester program to study in LA. Attended that and ended up moving to Los Angeles for good.

Eventually decided to further my education in music. I continued with vocal performance and began music industry studies.

In 2015, I launched the label and began signing acts. It was then I began to really start to write songs under the moniker, “Pop Cautious”. Also, during that time is when I picked up the mandolin and joined an indie folk band.

Since then, the label has expanded the roster and modified the infrastructure.

My unique sound is merely a representation of a musical evolution and continues to change with time.

● Pop Cautious Records is responsible for publishing and licensing your music. I am wondering if it handles other bands or just your project?

Pop Cautious Records is a boutique indie label that handles both my publishing as an artist, as well as the publishing for other artists.

However, it really depends on the individual deal per artist. Some artists we represent in publishing/licensing and others we simply promote and/or advise, etc.

● “Peace Song” has been acclaimed by critics and fans alike. Tell me more about the songwriting process for it, also, did you have any guests?

Living in Los Angeles has had its ups and downs. During 2019, I found myself living a gypsy lifestyle. I did not have a place to call “home”, but was still running the label, writing songs, and playing shows. Checked in a hotel in Glendale, CA after receiving a phone call from my father. He explained that he was part of an organization that was interested in commissioning me to write a song for “peace”.

Sat there awhile in my hotel room thinking what “peace” really meant to me.

The realization was made that the concept of “peace” does not only apply to individuals, but to us all. It’s a common goal we can all strive toward, no matter who we are.

The lyrics began to take shape based on these ideas. Knowing that the song was much more about the message, more than anything else, I wanted to allow the vocal to take the foreground and have the music merely act as support to deliver the message. The best way to do this, I found, was to use a chord progression that is simple for the everyday listener to digest.

Before I even began to shape the music, I knew that I wanted to include inspiration from Cat Steve’s “Peace Train”. If you listen to the rhythms in the chorus, you will hear what I’m referring to with that influence.

● Western artists stick to the basic music form, still you prefer to add some special indie pop elements to spice the music. Was this planned while working on your songs?

A lot of what happens is that I’ll go into a studio with just the guitar and vocal part. Almost all the other instrument parts are written as the song is being recorded! The guitar part and scratch vocal track I use to build upon. They are usually my canvas for I to throw paint.

Every single song doesn’t unfold in this way, but a lot of them do.

 

● Texas is known worldwide for its distinguished southern folk sound. Do you think that it has been affected by the trendy electro-pop mainstream or keeping its shape and identity?

Apples and oranges. Folk music, just like most every style, has evolved and been affected by industry trends, the availability of new music equipment and the development of production styles.

During the 2010’s, the music industry saw indie folk music taken by the mainstream. It’s almost a paradox to mix acoustic folk and electro-pop, but it happened. Some of it’s not too bad. The Pop Cautious song, “SUNSHINE.” plays with this genre-blend in a unique way.

There are so many sub-genres of folk and I think there will continue to be waves of the style showing up in mainstream in some form or another down the line.

When it comes to Texas, particularly, folk music in it’s true form can and will always be found, regardless of its popularity in the music industry.

 

● Your debut LP, ‘Troubadour’ is coming up soon. Tell me more about its lyrical themes and when it’s planned to be released?

I’m hesitant to give out a concrete release date, however, we are looking at some time next year. This album has taken on more meaning to me as I’ve experienced life and written new material around experiences.

I want it to be great because it’s the first full-length album as Pop Cautious.

The thing that will tie the songs together is my voice. There are a lot of influences from various styles. Some of the stylistic influences are indication of places I had visited. The lyrics tell the story of losing everything to find myself. Music got me through the most difficult times. The album will be a product of that concept.

 

● I loved ‘2 hearts’ music video simplicity, did you collaborate with the director in any directional views?
Marcelo shot and edited the entire thing. We both came up with the ideas and concepts. Sometimes I allowed him to take the lead and vise versa. We worked hard to make it all come together in the short amount of time we had. Knew him from growing up together. We had played in a band with some friends in high school. He had come into town to do some video work for a Dangerbird Records band, and I offered a place to stay. In exchange, he offered to do some music video work for a couple videos. We bounced ideas back and forth about what it should be. I wanted to portray the emotion behind the lyrics, and I think our actress did a good job at that. We shot an entire music video for “Peace Song”, as well. I think because some of the footage we were unable to use, we must shoot some of it over and so it’s on hold right now for that.
It was cool being able to take the role of producer for the “2 Hearts” music video and I hope to collaborate with more people on new videos soon (both behind and in front of the lens).

● Finally, how are you going to promote your album, especially that the COVID effect still exists?

A lot of what I do from the online end hasn’t changed too much. The only thing different is the live shows. Some moved to streaming live online during the pandemic. Obviously, that became overdone quickly. So many people were doing it, it became oversaturated. I feel like only the big-name bands can get away with selling out live streaming shows. Now that lockdown is over there are fewer people to watch that content. We are moving back to playing real live shows. Nothing can replace the real experience.

One thing that had helped me stand out with the release of “Peace Song” and it’s B-side, “2 hearts” during covid was that; It had been such a while that I released anything prior to those songs.

People were a bit surprised to see me come out with new music. I had gone off the radar for over a year. The fact the two tracks were about something very important to me (“Peace” & “Love”) also helped.

People like to connect. As humans we are all connected through emotion and passion. Concepts like “peace” or “love” I feel can help some remember these things exist. It can also reinforce what someone is striving to understand or even celebrate. Above all, I hope these lyrical concepts inspire.

I believe that if I truly believe in what I write about and do it with good intentions that my listeners will be able to understand it’s authentic. That is the most important part of marketing, having a good product. 

Follow Pop Cautious on Instagram, YouTube, and Spotify.

Get to know more about Pop Cautious Records on Instagram and the official website.

 

Mena Ezzat

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