Hey TRACE what’s good? Thanks for chatting with us! Can you tell us a little about yourself?
It’s my pleasure. And yes. Let’s see. I’m from Southern California, born and raised. Currently call Los Angeles home and want to kind of live everywhere one day. I enjoy personality tests, really good wine and when the weather is somewhere between gray and really gray. That’s probably a good start.
We’ve had your debut EP Low on serious repeat – give us the story behind the album.
It’s my first official debut as an artist and it feels crazy. The journey to the debut has been filled with a lot of complexities, hesitations and too much honesty. I wrote all the songs in 2015 (I think one was written in 2014) and they are just a compilation of moments in my life growing up to now. The EP is an observation of myself and those who’ve been around me.
You just premiered Low on Spotify and have been included in multiple playlists – including being the cover of The Indie Mix playlist that has over 680k listeners! What was it like to be the face of that playlist?
I mean it’s not real and surreal and unreal. So that’s how I’m taking it. It’s like oh, hi there face. Just super casual at first. But then when I realize it is real, I’m filled with so much gratitude and kind of shock. It did feel like my career got a confidence boost though and so I hope it only continues. This feeling. I’m hopeful about it.
Since the release of your debut single “Heavy Shoulders,” you’ve been on everyone’s radar from Pigeons and Planes, Stereogum, Indie Shuffle and more. Besides being obviously talented, what else can you attribute this to?
I mean, two things come to mind. The people you surround yourself with is a crucial thing and also the reality that in any art, for the most part, you have to sell/brand yourself. I think that phrase has a negative connotation to it, but I enjoy the challenge of image representation. No one will love your art more than you do but it’s an amazing feeling when you really share it and it’s received. It’s worth literally putting yourself out there. I’m unabashed. Oops. Haha.
Idolator says you’re “making the rare type of mope-pop that’s so exhilarating it makes you wish you were going through a breakup just so you could ~really~ ~feel~ everything.” Are all your songs based on personal experiences?
Wait, I love that phrase. Mope-pop. So sad, so into it. Um, I would say they are experiences that have been personal or experiences that have surrounded me. Whether through friends or observing strangers.
How would you define your genre and who are some your musical influences?
It’s a meld of a few genres that give off the feeling of sadness with a lure of hope. Aka, indie meets pop, electronic meets synthy. Folk music really influences me though too. Feist has been my major influence growing up. There’s Kendrick, Bon Iver, Lykke Li, The National, Blood Orange, Beach House, James Blake (to name a few). It’s a mixed bag of talented cuties.
We read that you grew up in a musical household (your mom was a Vietnamese Pop star), how did you get started in music?
I played guitar (to only myself) and wrote songs (for only myself to hear). I never ever wanted or thought about doing music until one day a friend asked me to sing a song on his ep and I was shocked but said sure. It was a fun experience. I think that was the initial moment of me wanting more from that process. But I grew up in a household of music so it was a part of my lifestyle but not a personal part, until recently of course. Mom is thrilled.
Ones to Watch recently premiered your music video for “Honey.” What was the inspiration behind the track?
I feel like the memory of writing that song changes a lot. But I’d say probably dating too many people and walking away with nothing to show for the time and effort. haha. Like, someone, give me something of valueeeeee. But I haven’t given much on my end so I suppose I can’t be that expectant. But I am.
Who/what are your biggest inspirations?
My mom is one for sure. She’s just the best. And so, so encouraging. And one of my best friends, Rebekah is one as well. She kind of lit the fire for me to start doing music officially and in a real way. AND the city of Paris. I just find everything about that place inspirational. But in general, people doing things and doing it well to where their successes emanate a magnetic energy that brings others along is something I look for in my day to day. That’s pretty radically inspiring; its something I want to be all about and like.
Outside of music, what are some of your hobbies?
I love exploring the city. Whether through hikes or eating/drinking my way around town, there are so many things to do here. I also enjoy film or a stroll through something art-centered. Cooking is fun too.
What’s in the works for TRACE?
I’m currently writing, always writing. That’s my main focus right now. As for the rest, nothing is for sure, which is kind of unbearably exciting. We will see. I’ll keep you updated. Stay close.
Listen to TRACE: