By Jocelle Koh
After seeing this Nextshark article on indie lo-fi R&B artist TRACE, I immediately knew I had to feature her on Asian Pop Weekly. The daughter of Vietnam’s legendary Queen of Soul Carol Kim but herself delving into the Western music scene with her calming and intrinsic lo-fi R&B sounds; it’s interesting to see how the sounds of her heritage and her current environment (now being based in LA) intermingle and make up her musical identity. Known now for her melancholy and sensitive brand of R&B, the singer-songwriter shared with us below 10 tracks that have influenced her greatly in a variety of ways at different points in her life.
1. Let It Die by Feist
Leslie Feist is one my favorite artists and I find her voice, sound and writing to epitomize the perfect combination of depth, emotion and rarity. This song is so simple and so heartbreaking. And there are THE perfect use of bells which I have a love for and want to do more in my own music. Out of many handfuls of favorites from Feist, this is a top favorite.
2. Buzzcut Season by Lorde
When Lorde came into the scene, she changed and created a new wave of pop music. I would say this is one of my favorites of hers and I especially am keen on the clever writing on this track. It’s melancholy at its best. And it’s songs like this that really push me when I think about what it is I’m writing about and how I’m writing it.
3. Honey by TRACE
To date, it’s still one of my favorite songs. And it’s the first song I wrote where the chorus came first so strongly that I had to have it in the verses too. It’s also my favorite song to perform so I think about this song a lot and how I can also feel that same with my other songs.
4. Do U Want Me by Giraffage
The way this song starts out is so random and a strong nod to like old school love jams and then the tones of the songs evolve so effortless and uniquely. I love the way Giraffage exudes an energy in his music but it feels paced and still very chill.
5. Fake Empire by The National
The piano in this song is so beautiful. And the way the song evolves into a complexity of sounds (including horns–which I’m trying to implement more and more of in my songs) is like a masterpiece.
6.Thinking Bout You by Frank Ocean
There’s a timelessness to this song that I always go back to when I create something in the studio, in my bedroom–or anywhere where I’m writing music. Frank is someone I always wonder, “would he like this song?” and this is one of my top choices from his body of work for sure. Plus the sentiments behind it are so curated yet simple.
7. Tal Uno by Barrie
A newer artist for me, I’ve been recently obsessed with this band and their renewal of pop with a kind of daydream lens. The electric guitar is something I want to introduce more and more into my songs too. Easy listening but interesting.
8. YEAH RIGHT by Joji
Who doesn’t love Joji? The way he blends genres is so incredible and sometimes my brain hurts with how he does it. He makes me feel less crazy for wanting my first full body of work to hit a multitude of genres.
9. Side Eye by TRACE
Confession, when I hear this song on playlists on Spotify, I never change it. (I usually change the song when it’s mine!) I love every inch of this song and I think it’s because of the different elements we played with on it and the instrumentation feels pretty peculiar and original (I think working with Vera for the first time) and that gave off a lot of refreshing vibes. Also, the chorus is a “down chorus” which was fun to explore and pull off and I don’t think there is any other song title of mine that depicts me as much as “Side Eye” does.
10. Starry Night by Peggy Gou
I will say, growing up I listened to a lot of disco and funk and Peggy’s music brings it all back to life. There are elements of this type of dance music I want to learn and explore more but she’s incredibly inspiring and can also just stare at her Instagram all day.