Could you tell us a bit about yourself? Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Houston, Texas and raised in Seabrook. Kemah Bay and Clear Lake were the two bodies of water I grew up fishing and sailing. The Bay empties to the Gulf of Mexico. Lots of Texas blues, country and reggae music in the area.
What did you like most about growing up there?
I enjoyed growing up in a nice neighborhood that is full of trees and surrounded by water. Never too many people around and the land is real spread out. It’s just the overall energy and inspiration of the lifestyle and environment.
What sparked your interest in music?
As funny as it seems, my grandma playing hymns on an old upright she gave my mother was the first glimpse at live music for me and it made me want to learn how to play piano.
Over time, I jumped from piano to drums, drums to guitar, guitar to vocals, etc. Started writing songs and eventually picked up the mandolin. Huge snowball effect driven by this inner necessity to learn as many instruments and as much about music as possible.
How did you first step into the realm of professional music?
After a couple years at piano lessons, I was hired on to play with the church band. It wouldn’t be long after that, that I went go on to form my own band with friends and siblings that ended up winning the Greater Houston Area Battle of The Bands and earned us some free studio time to make a record and tour regionally throughout Texas.
Which genre of music is your specialty?
I’d say I’ve spent the most time with rock music, but never write in just one style.
What is Pop Cautious?
The story of how I came up with the term “Pop Cautious” is kind of funny.
I was traveling North, through California, with a group of friends and we decided to stop
in Yosemite. The entrance was snowed in and we couldn’t enter the park. We also didn’t have a lot of money and the hotels had no vacancy. We decided to setup camp right outside park grounds, mountain side, in what happened to also be a “Bear Zone”.
It was lightly snowing and we passed a bottle of Jack around while taking turns keeping watch. I fell asleep a little too close to the fire and an ember popped into my face and burned my forehead. It woke me up and gave me a good scare and I looked up to my friends laughing, asking “what happened?” . One of them told me, “an ember ‘popped’ into your face.” I then proclaimed, “Well, I guess you gotta be ‘Pop Cautious’!’”
The next day we laughed about it and another friend reminded me of what I had said.It stuck with me and I ended up using it in a school project for the name of a mock-business I was to create. I chose to build business plans for a record label. I named it Pop Cautious and at the time I was in this business class I was also just starting to write parts and perform mandolin with a folk ensemble called Seneca and The River.
We won an artist development competition at Musicians Institute and I decided to actually turn my mock-business into a real one. Seneca and The River was my first signee.
Somehow when my friends heard of me starting this record label, they started to just refer to me personally as “Pop Cautious”. I jokingly changed my Facebook name to the moniker. Some people took it seriously and I just kind of rolled with it. I never actually planned for it to become my artist name, it just did. Some of the press that I was getting from my company launch party was naming my band “Pop Cautious” and I realized the confusion.
I said, well, let’s just make this an all encompassing ominous type of thing that will ultimately be unique and may help with brand recognition.
That’s where I’m at- going with the flow. So far, people seem to dig the name and think it’s interesting that I have this underlying trinity theme of artist/band/label.
How did the label get started? What challenges did you face?
It all kind of unfolded as I was still learning and in school. There was a lot of trial and error and just learning by doing. The toughest part is initially acquiring the resources while building something unique. A lot of money and time goes into creating music and putting it out there before becoming established and generating steady income streams. Selling music is not like selling medicine or food.
What does it feel like to have your own music label?
I feel proud, nervous, overwhelmed and excited all at once. Constantly. There’s been many setbacks and it hasn’t come easy. But, nothing great comes easy. Every time “throwing in the towel” crosses my mind, something good will happen. Extremely blessed and grateful.
How do you go about finding artists? What do they have to do to work with you?
It is very much a hand selected bunch. There isn’t really one method of finding new music that I like or finding a band I want to work with. I’ll discover new talent when out on the town watching performances at various venues and also get lots of emails from bands all over the world.
Right now, I’m working as more than just a label. I really am hands on with writing, developing, producing, publishing, promoting a lot of my artists.
I prefer my talent to live in LA. Recently have considered branching out, but it’s best to take on a handful of local artists that I can grow with and actually manage.
If an artist really likes the community we are building and wants to be a part of it, or simply wants some feedback, Pop Cautious Records is a member of Submit Hub. There you have an option to submit music to labels.
What was your inspiration behind the Pop Cautious ep?
A girl I fell in love with broke my heart and I started to write about it. We split up for about 4 or 5 months. I kind of hoped she would hear the music and maybe we could forgive each other and move on. She did hear and we are now back together.
Interwoven in the lyrics there are some political messages concerning topics I feel strongly about and have directly affected my life.
What was the recording process like?
Lots of driving Lyft to save up money in between recording sessions. It wasn’t easy to get this record completed and out there for a few reasons. One thing is the distance of the studio from where I live. That however made it feel worth it. Earning the money to pay for studio time and making the drive out there.
All the while, trying to make rent, pay bills and fund 5 other artists.
Some of the vocals on “Blue Dream” and and “Miss Your Face” were done in the comfort of my studio apartment in the Toluca Hills.
It’s nice to be playing a style of music where sometimes home studio quality recording actually will pass and is sometimes even preferred. “California” was recorded in one take straight to tape. I wanted that song to be raw and more about the emotion than the production. I didn’t have a lot of time or money making this EP, but it feels good. I’m happy with the music and think that over producing these songs would have been a mistake.
Which songs from the project are your favorite and why?
They all are very close to me, but “Blue Dream” got me my first radio play. It reminds me of the music I played growing up and is fun to perform.
“California” is also very personal. It’s the one folk song of the bunch and it’s acoustic only. I seem to really “feel” that track more than the others.
Where can people hear/buy your music?
Pop Cautious (Self-titled EP) : YouTube
Facebook: Pop Cautious Music
Label Facebook: Pop Cautious Records
Soundcloud: Pop Cautious Records
Website: Pop Cautious Music
Label site: Pop Cautious Records
What’s the future for Pop Cautious moving forward?
Pop Cautious Records has plans to expand and add on departments that specialize in specific aspects of the industry. We have a compilation in the making of various artists and a couple more records coming out this year. Saving to release some vinyl next year. Looking to potentially sign a couple more artists and focusing on getting some TV/film placements.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who are building a brand?
Don’t wait until you feel like you are all completely ready. Plan, of course, but don’t let fear hold you back from starting, asking questions, and growing.
Why do you think it’s important for people to follow their dreams?
It is the ultimate route to true happiness. Not having the regret of looking back and saying “I wish I had done this” is priceless.
It’s important to inspire. To really feel alive. To do things your way.
Here’s a link to his new video “Blue Dream“
This article originally appeared on Dreamer Loop
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Photo credit: Pop Cautious Music