Tracy Le, TRACE to the music world, is the former managing editor of Darling, a quarterly magazine run in LA that never retouches any of its photos (which, we love, obviously). She was the mag's first employee, having moved LA from San Diego to run the editorial department. But two years ago "music made itself known," to TRACE becoming "a serious thing versus a thing I just did for myself-- locked up in my room, playing and singing at a general volume of three out 100."
So she launched a Kickstarter revisiting all her "'not really a real song' songs," left her Darling family, and got to work on her dreams. "Before doing what I do now," she recently told her former employer, "I think I did a total of five internships, a handful of part-time jobs and two different, 9-to-5 careers. But dreaming has been a vital part of how I got to where I am." With over 18 million combined streams on Spotify and SoundCloud, she's done a little more than dream.
We caught up with TRACE, recently back off her first US tour, to talk risk, reward, and that time she had less than $25 in her bank account.
You left a job to pursue a dream. What are some of the challenges you face?
No one, it seems, is in the exact same position as I am. Being a musician is so complex and everyone has their own path and thoughts on what is best (for them and in general) and what has worked and what hasn't. I think for me it's knowing that there isn't really just one way to get to point B from point A. (I also think there are like 100 point Bs). Another challenge lies within creating boundaries with people. It's such a people-heavy industry so it's been a semi- challenge not necessarily knowing everyone in LA who is in the music industry (i.e., where does one find a lawyer or anyone know what a booking agent looks like? HAH!), so when you do meet someone with wisdom and experience, there's a lot of discernment and patience that goes into it all.
What is the best piece of "real talk" advice you've received?
No one will care about your music more than you do. So no one will (or should) work harder for your music than you do.
What is your favorite life advice?
Work hard. Then work harder. Then work even harder.
Is there a time in you life when you thought, 'I can't do this anymore?'
Maybe that one time my bank account hit below $25 dollars. That was a bit back, but that was a moment where I felt vulnerable to sacrifice.
Next is new music and more shows. The five year goals would likely include having at least one full-length album done under my musical belt, having done festivals and tours internationally, and having built a light to medium-heavy portfolio for the songs I've written for major artists. It's dreamy but here we are.
What's a habit or routine or routine you swear by?
Pop Physique. LOL. But I would say exercise, in general. When I can't write a song or am too lazy to do proper vocal exercises or can't sleep, or go on a bad date even, I exercise.
How has your relationship to your career changed in the last five years?
I don't take it flippantly or lightly. It's become a more serious (but like in a good way) relationship.
What's on your career bucket list?
Write for Rihanna, write with Sia, sing with Drake. Easy...
What does female empowerment mean to you?
The perfect balance between grace and strength.
What do you do to support other women either personally or professionally?
I lend my ear and listen. I give a stern talk when needed. I connect them with resources. I am slow to speak.
TRACE will be performing at GIRLSCHOOL on January 28th in Los Angeles.