LA based singer-songwriter TRACES released his sophomore EP titled “Median” featuring fan favorite single ”Before I Wilt” and “Clouds”. A couple of weeks ago we had the pleasure to chat with the talented artist about his artistic journey, the making of his latest EP in addition to a few deets about his forthcoming third EP.

The Birth and Sound of TRACES

TRACES who grew up in San Diego, moved to Los Angeles about 3 years ago. His beginnings began in songwriting for other pop and R&B artists; ”I started out writing for other people and I always knew I wanted to do a solo project eventually.”

TRACES had a deep appreciation for artists such as Frank Ocean, Coldplay and Banks who created their own unique artistic sounds and concepts and aspired to be like one of them. During a difficult time in his life, TRACES recalls how one chat with a friend reminded him of the power of songwriting. ”I kind of ended up going through a rough season for me, where I felt immense loneliness and it turned to a general numbness towards life and everything that comes with that. I ended up chatting with a friend of mine and he was going through something similar. He was kind of like ‘You have an outlet, not everybody has an outlet, so use your outlet’.” Immediately after that, TRACES was born and his first EP, “Heart of Gold,” began forming. “It was this idea that we all have things, we all have some baggage and we all have traits that run through that bleeds over towards our daily lives.I was interested in talking about that. TRACES was my way to speaking to a character and voice all of these opinions without fault.”

The LA singer shares that 2000s r&b heavily influenced his own sound with artists such as Omarion and Justin Timberlake as well is his love for his favorite bands, One Republic and The Fray. During his high school years, he would discover his deep appreciation for hip hop music.”My buddy, Travis, would be like “you need to listen to this record and that record”, he would start telling me all about these artists and to understand why they were great.” When he began writing his project, TRACES wrote alternative pop/rock songs, “It’s just so deeply ingrained in me that’s what I grew up listening to. Hip hop and electronic music added color and flair to pop that excites me. I love the elements of hip hop. I can mix in as much as possible.”

Songwriting

TRACES’ songwriting process is an intriguing one. “It varies. I would say generally most of the songs that are my favorite are the ones that do the best or the most well received are mostly songs I start on the keys.” He further explains that he begins playing on the piano, “seeing what naturally comes out and then I get it on a certain point and bring it in with a couple of dudes I work with closely, My buddy Curtis Peoples and Colin Creev, we would work super closely together and my buddy Dave Berg and from there we try to amplify and take it to the next level and from there I see what words naturally flow out.” TRACES confesses the one of the most magical aspects of songwriting is the way the whole story reveals itself to him,”I sit down with nothing and once I get to catch that feeling and emotion, the whole story lays out for me”

On “Median”, his 2nd EP of a series of 3 EPs, TRACES admits his favorite track to write and record was the first track on the EP, called “Better off Alone,” an exhilarating, vulnerable story that pushes musical boundaries to new heights with it’s unapologetic music experimentation and rich vocal delivery. “’Better off Alone’ was really fun, that song took 6 months. I had the whole thing done, melody wise over a year ago and I couldn’t get the words, all I had was better off alone, I had that pre chorus and I just couldn’t find what the words were.” No matter how many times he rewrote he wasn’t satisfied with the results. “None of it was coming out the way I wanted it to. So I wrote out what I wanted it to say, the sections of the song, like what the intent was.” Eventually TRACES ended up working with a friend and fellow songwriter to finish up the song; “I was hanging with a buddy Isaiah Blas, who is an amazing writer, and asked for his help. We went in and knocked the whole thing out and I brought it to my buddy Dave and he has a huge wall of synthesizers that I geek out about and we went in and knocked out the track.”

He adds that his singles “Clouds” and “Before I Wilt” were pretty fun to make. “I literally have every single version of that song (“Clouds”) from the voice memo, that first verse with the piano. “Before I Wilt”, I did that back home in San Diego at 2am one night. About a week later, my buddies, Curtis and Colin, we smoothed out the edges and make it happen.”

The Meaning Behind Median

While the EP has an unexpected way of conveying it’s intentional message and story, It is a body of work that connects with it’s listeners and builds a overwhelming sense of community,”This is the first EP, the first project I’ve done that I was getting constant messages throughout the week where people have different takeaways from the EP.”

One listen to the project and you get a sense of reaching a crossroads TRACES describes as “this middle ground, a waiting room where two paths are appealing, both of which run to different sides of who you are. Both require different tools that you have in your tool box whether or not you are going to embrace discomfort or wait for discomfort to change.”

The idea becomes instantly relatable because who hasn’t reached a point in their life where they have been stuck in a very uncomfortable place and have no idea how to move forward? “The idea is like a lot of people start thinking about that, where people are stuck in that place of “why is everything still not ok. I don’t know where to move from here necessarily,” just to engage that conversation. What does the next step look like? We try going through that. I tried going through that with every single song and there’s definitely an order to it too. Finishing on “Clouds” is like you can’t stay there forever, it doesn’t work that way. Traces hopes it helps his listeners to feel comforted in the fact that “we all don’t know what the fuck we are doing. To be honest. Also I think there’s a lot of healing and understanding and looking in your internal world and what areas you might be confused about and constantly thinking about them. The answers come eventually they came to me when I was listening to records.”

The Challenges and Advice

The life of an artist can be seen as a singular rewarding experience. However, it comes with an equal amount of challenges, including self comparisons to other artists. “There is a lot of comparison with every other artist. It’s a complete waste of time ever, yet for some reason I feel the need to do that. There’s an imposter syndrome too that you don’t mean what you say and you question yourself constantly. I worked through it over the past year and a half. I just want things fo connect. When the vision doesn’t line up it can be crushing.” TRACES mentions that holding on to a emotion can be challenging; “When writing, for me. I try to dive, so deep into what I’m feeling that can be hard to come out of that. When you are so far into that it gets hard when you are driving home alone. With this third project, it’s coming a lot more easier to come in and out of that, partially because the friends and mentors I have in my life keep me focused and point my compass to direction, a positive, true direction.”

The music industry is overflowing with talent but it’s your uniqueness that will make you stand out from the rest. “Everybody in LA is talented, there’s a general level of talent here. Everyone is good. So work on your talent. But I think it’s the least important factor. It comes down to you and work ethic/persistence. How much time are you willing to put in? I think that is super important and making and creating relationships.” TRACES clarifies, “Being people’s biggest supporter and making sure you have all those people to check you in a kind and loving way. What is the unique voice that you have, something nobody else on earth has? Find that and that will separate you. I’m exhausted of going to Spotify and finding the same thing over and over.”

The Future

As we concluded our chat, TRACES shares all the exciting things he has in store for his fans and listeners. “We are going to be pumping this EP for a little while, promote it and get as many people as possible to hear it. We are working on videos right now and a bunch of different visuals, a lot of cool stuff to pump out.” He also shares he has been working on the final part of the 3 EP series. ”Right now I’m working on the third one and trying to get all these songs together and solid. This third project, I’ve been wanting to work on it for more than a year and a half ago. I had the concept before I did “Median”. I’m beyond excited to really get it right, making sure we are getting the right tone and story is there, everything coming together the right way.” Expect to experience his live performances in forthcoming shows aha eh promises to “definitely playing more shows.”

The singer-songwriter continues to stay true to his artistic vision, putting out earth shattering songs about human emotions that create an atmosphere of not feeling alone and hopefulness for those who can relate to his sentimental stories, “It’s a really big deal to me since this most recent EP, we’ve been getting a lot more messages and people connecting to it. It’s so motivating and it puts a real purpose to what you are doing and not for yourself. When you see that, it’s like “man now I want to make all these videos, I wanna make these visuals”, things people can enjoy and try to build that sense of community.”

Listen to TRACES ’“Median” EP below:

Catch all the latest news on TRACES on his Official Twitter

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