TRACE took a risk after the success of her first EP and it paid off. The young artist moved to LA and made the decision to whole-heartedly pursue music. TRACE wrote “All My Friends” while navigating friendships through the change, but now, a couple of years later, the track is a reflection piece. In the midst of completing her sophomore EP and fresh off the release of “Anxiety”, TRACE is an up and coming force in the music industry. Her personal and thought-provoking tracks are infectious and addicting.
I sat down with TRACE to learn more about “All My Friends” and the growth she’s found in music.
Ariel Zedric: Tell me about the inspiration behind your single, “All My Friends“.
TRACE: I wrote this in the spirit of reflecting on relationships in my life. At first, it was inspired by the city of Los Angeles, and how it has changed me in ways I couldn’t have expected. More recently, I feel like it represents how I think about the people I surround myself with while I’m chasing my dreams.
Are there parts of your childhood and upbringing that you pull from for inspiration? How so?
Growing up an only child, I had a lot of time to myself. I think there’s a hint of loneliness in this song which kind of gives nod to that. I spent a lot of time alone as a child, so having friends had (and still has) a lot of weight to it: I had to get used to having people around. Consequently, I feel like I’m someone who has a lot of different friends.
How is “All My Friends” different from what’s on your previous EP?
That’s a good question. I guess the fact that it’s actually about friendship and not about a romantic relationship or about solely myself makes it pretty different. It’s also a direct narrative about a place (LA) which makes the song more specific than my other ones. I was also going to say, I have never been this lyrically mean, but, I have. Ha. Sonically, it feels like it sits in my usual vibe–but maybe a bit dreamier.
Tell me about your songwriting process! Is there a special place that you go to for inspiration?
My process differs really. I keep a running list of notes in my phone and make voice note memos every time I hear/think up a melody to work from. Sometimes an emotion stirs up when I’m driving or sometimes I feel an idea during a conversation with a friend. It’s about always being present, so I can mentally cast a net out for my songwriting. When I’m looking for inspiration, I try to drown out the noise, so going out of town really does help–like the desert. When I’m in the city I easily find inspiration in film, art, or just exploring the city and nature around it. I would say my friends inspire me too; the people around me.
Talk a little bit about the role music has played in your life, not only from a career standpoint but how it’s influenced you as a person.
I went to school for a Business/Communications degree, so I basically wanted to do everything after college. When I found my voice in music, I realized I really didn’t want to do anything else. Nothing feels more “me” than when I write, sing and “do music.” I had a couple of careers before music, so there’s a tangible difference I feel. Music has influenced me as a person in a way that has made me more careful with the words I say, let alone jot down. I think it’s helped me learn a lot about myself, too. It’s hard not to let yourself spill out with music, so writing/recording/performing has given me reinforced confidence to face the hard stuff; to scoop it out and put it away into a song. Music has somewhat walked me through continual transformation.
Have you ever doubted your decision to pursue music? If so, what inspired you to keep going?
Oh yes. But the doubt doesn’t last too long, thankfully. I think doing anything creative as a career is an automatic risk. There are times when I’m like “You have a college degree, you could be making a stable income, you could be comfortable.” But then, what it comes down to is the big question I continue to ask myself, “is it worth it?” And it really is. The fans keep me going, that is for sure. There’s no better feeling than being able to share emotions that invite someone in to feel less alone. And when there’s a slight chance of healing, it makes it even more worthwhile.
Speaking of, what was it like moving to L.A. at such a young age? What sort of obstacles did you encounter?
When I told my friends and family I was moving to LA, everyone was like “Oh yeah, that makes sense.” I didn’t know how to take that, ha. I probably took it the wrong way then, but now I realize what people saw in this city before I could ever imagine it. Coming to LA from 100 miles south, the world I entered felt completely different from the one I grew up in. I was fortunate to have moved to LA with a solid group of friends since I worked for a magazine with some amazing women. I think the obstacles I encountered were the usual growing up/adult ones: how will I pay rent? Are my dreams going to work here? Is this really my dream?
Do you consider L.A. home now?
I do. There’s no other place I would rather live. I expect to live in other countries in my life but LA is where I always want to return.
Explain the personal and professional struggles you’ve encountered in the music industry thus far. How have they molded you?
Every industry is generally the same in that it’s relationship based. The people make it what it is, and I’ve been really grateful for the people I’ve encountered in music. Any struggles I do have been much larger than myself. Sometimes, the reality of how music works within the entire industry framework can be disheartening. For example, I had no idea what it took for songs to get on the radio. Just learning about what goes on can be overwhelming, but it’s also insightful, and I have learned so much. I guess I’ve been molded into someone who knows things she doesn’t want to at times but still wants to see what could be on the other side. As a result, I’ve become someone who is deeply curious because there’s so much to uncover, but I think that’s a good thing.
What’s it like being a female in the music industry?
I feel special, I feel bummed, I feel empowered. The realities of this industry being male-heavy is a real one, and that has made me feel inspired to really take up space in a room. Not in a like “out of my way men!” manner. More so in knowing that I have a seat at the table, and I need to take ownership. Sure, I get bummed when there aren’t many women in the rooms I enter, but I feel hopeful that the dynamic is slowly changing. It makes me feel special to be a part of such a movement.
Tell me about a moment in your career that has left you proud.
There are so many! Every big and little thing makes me overwhelmed with such pride and joy. One memory that stands out: a family came to my show in San Francisco at Slim’s; it was this girl’s birthday, and she dragged her whole family out. She came up after I performed to introduce me to her best friend and her dad, mom, everyone. I mean, that really warmed my heart. To get to be a part of personal celebrations is so special. Just imagining a teen dragging dad out to see me- Ha, it was CUTE!
What artist have you been listening to on repeat lately?
Lately. Hm. Solange, Local Natives, Men I Trust, Drama, Tierra Whack.
Are you working on any other exciting, forthcoming projects that you want people to know about?
So many. And I want all the people to know, but I can’t say quite yet 🙂 But more music is coming and I can’t wait to sing them all for you.
Do you have any advice for young aspiring artists?
Really try to know the heart behind your desires. Make sure they aren’t fleeting reasons. And surround yourself with people who know you. And like, obviously, expect to work harder than anyone around you.
Any last thoughts?
Thanks for all the support. This release is an especially important one and I’m so grateful for all the love!
Feature image credit Elizabeth Miranda, courtesy of TRACE vb