By: Lauren Royer
“I don’t fuck with bad vibes, I only fuck with the love” -Caleborate
“Up and Coming” doesn’t really describe Caleborate (Caleb Parker). “Up and Going” is more like it because he is making moves, recently dropping his second album “1993” and in is in the middle of his first big tour. Plus, the Bay Area native is the topic of conversations all along the golden coast and is going places in his career. He is unapologetically himself and it shows in his work as a deeply passionate artist. Chatting with Caleborate, we agreed that the 90’s were one of the best decades (ever). We dove into the topic of endless grind and who he can credit for his creative, true-to-himself vibes. Recently opening for Kehlani, and now headlining his own tour, he shared what he believes is the most important thing for staying focused and what is needed to make it as an artist on your own dime.
What I think a lot of newbie artists can learn from this Cali-boy is the importance of being raw, unique, and focused on your own individual journey. We’re all on our own unique pathways and sometimes our lanes run alongside others, sometimes they cross, but they’re all our own. Luckily for me, Caleborate and my’s lanes crossed with enough time for me to get an interview and to learn some hella chill stuff about him- including his groupie-like affection for the show “Bob’s Burgers” and which city in his tour has the best clam chowder of his life.
Aye so you were just in Seattle- what did you think of Seattle’s vibes?
Seattle is dope man, really really dope. The people were cool, the food was really dope. We’ll be definitely going back to Seattle.
LR: What was some amazing food you tried?
C: Ahhhh there was this clam chowder in Pikes Place. It was just… so…
LR: I can hear in your voice how amazing it was
C: It was the best clam chowder I ever had!
1993 is a vintage classic year- Especially for us 90’s kids. Besides being your birth year, what is the significance of this year to you? I’m sure you get asked this a lot about your album ‘1993’.
To me it’s just an album that speaks towards the 90’s as a whole, and specifically ‘93 is a year when a lot of good content came out. So the album tells something as a whole and is personal in that way. It’s meant to reach people in their 20’s and even people who aren’t yet in their 20’s or the have-beens. It’s just a great blanket year and the content speaks to that.
LR: Maaan, I don’t know…my brother was born that year so I’m not sure about content from that year being good (laughs), plus I was born ‘91 so ya know… gotta dig a little. But the 90’s were an amazing decade and I’m not just saying that as a generational thing… a lot of wonderful iconic things came from the 90’s.
C: It really was! Also our generation is special because if you think about it- we are one of the last generations of human people who did stuff without computers and now it’s way different and we all use computers. We’re on both ends of the spectrum because we were born in the middle of it all.
I heard you opened for Kehlani not too long ago, did you learn anything from her that you can share?
Of course! I didn’t ask for knowledge from her or anything but you learn stuff whenever you’re around people that are successful. You can learn from just watching them and the way their team works. She has a really good confidence with her stage set. You can tell like with her team everyone is on the same page and that’s the biggest thing, the show was hella seamless and her interaction with the crowd. You learn a lot just from watching and she’s got a high level of confidence and chemistry with everyone involved.
What has been your favorite collaboration to date? Any challenges in collaborating?
I’ve done a lot, it’s hard to have a favorite. All the collabs I think “damn this is good”. Man, you know, I’ll just say all my collabs are my fave whether it’s working with producers or background singers. Even showing my friends songs to get their input is a type of collaboration. I really don’t think I can pick a favorite.
LR: You sound kinda like Mom right now like “I can’t just pick a favorite kid”
C: (Laughs) it’s true though! Can’t single just one out, they all mean a lot to me.
Have there been any downsides you can speak to about touring? Surprises?
There’s been a lot of stuff, this is the first one, so everything is new. The first real tour with real travel. This is out of state, cold weather turning into warm weather in a day. It’s a lot of work. Been talking with my team about staying focused and even though we could go out and party cause it’s fun, there’s the part of the job that’s the next morning- and it’s work. And we want to go out and do a great job. It’s like figuring out how to stay focused when you’re constantly moving from one place to the next. You gotta interact with the fans and social media, playing out the show. Management- that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned. I can’t lie, like I’m 23, I’m having the time of my life; meeting beautiful girls, going out to bars, just the payoff for the tour is fun that way. We’re all having a good time.
What song has been on repeat this week?
One of the songs I’ve been playing a lot is actually my own at like our after parties and kickbacks at the hotel.
LR: Which one is that?
C: Ahhh it hasn’t been released, keep it on the down-low for now because I don’t want to give it up yet. Recorded with a friend. Every time we listen it’s just the right vibe. But! A song I’m hearing on tour multiple times by venues or DJ sets is “Fake Love” by Drake. Great song.
I read you’ve created both of your albums on your own dollar. A lot of our readers are just starting out as artists and may not realize some of the financial burdens that come with starting up. Can you speak to the importance of the endless grind and the level of dedication that is needed to pull that off?
You gotta just utilize all resources that you have and be hella persistent. Sooo persistent. It’s hard to do this shit and build from nothing. Even to the level we’re at as our first headline tour. You can’t learn persistence or commitment, you really gotta be like “fuck everything, I’m gonna keep going”. There can be no plan b. It needs to be on your mind when you wake up, when you’re taking a shit, when you’re at the gym, that has to be all you think about and pour all your dollars into it and you gotta sacrifice. Some artists, they’re afraid to take the bus or stay with parents and struggle for it. You’re going to either be a successful artist or not. You gotta eat a lot of shit before you eat some caviar.
I gotta say I really respect the fact that you refer to your music as your artwork and continue to advocate the need for your music to remain authentic artwork that is an extension of your creative self. Can you share some things you do to keep yourself in this creative mindset? Things that help you push past the usual insecurities and trends?
I hang around like minded people and I don’t think that I give myself credit for that mindset, I give credit to my Dad. He raised me making sure I was never afraid of being myself on anything I did. And made sure I knew that and it helped create things unique to me that would eventually make me special or important. It’s the reason why I’m comfortable being uncomfortable and okay not being one of those swagged out, flossin’ artists. In life, people need to feel that way and seeing someone else being unapologetically themselves they can think “Ya, maybe I’m not so bad either”
I love love love that on 1993 you transition songs with conversations. I feel like it creates a very intimate listening experience for your listeners. Tell us about these conversations- like how they came about, why they were included in this project? Were some of them organically recorded just on the fly?
Ya, one of the guys from the convos is sitting next to me right now, he’s just resting before the show. We have conversations all the time about stuff just going on in our lives, what we’re seeing. It serves as a time capsule on a personal level for people in our generation and what we’re going through in the area. It’s raw convo, and people speak candidly like that and you feel that. Putting those on the project it made every song realer and I wanted people to understand what the songs are about through those conversations too.
Bless me with one of your mantras, something you say daily.
“Not to fit into what others are doing and remember people are on their own journey”. People compare themselves to other people and say things like “I should be doing this by this age” or “They’re doing this so I guess I should be too”. You don’t know what people are going through and how they got to where they are. You have no idea if what they’re doing in that moment is an isolated thing or whatever. Just don’t spend so much time looking at other people, I want to keep my eyes on where I’m walking.
The Bob’s Burgers-esque cartoon version of you is tight as hell! Who did that?
It’s the best fucking thing I’ve ever had. It is easily my favorite show. I’ll smoke a lil mary, like not gonna lie, the devil’s lettuce just goes well with that show. It’s a good show to get into when you have so many thoughts in your mind and you want to relax. For me, it’s like a safe platform I can unwind with. I love seeing what dumb shit Tina’s going to do or Jimmy Jr.
LR: Ya I feel like Bob’s Burgers is good too because you can watch it and be like… damn at least my life isn’t like that and I can catch a break sometimes!
C: Right? Like that’s the thing, this show is so much deeper because Bob goes through so much shit and still pursues his dream and it hasn’t been working out. He is still there though, and he loves his family and his job and he still makes the burgers. This friend of mine who works for a local paper in the Bay Area- her boyfriend, he does a lot of stuff and he got skilled in the Bob’s Burger animation style. I begged him to make one for me. And he was like “oh alright ya”, then he did and I love it.
LR: I’d frame that shit. For sure.