TRACE - Like Hell EP (Ultra Music)

Mastered by Mastering Engineer Saif Bari

LA-based songstress TRACE has announced her sophomore EP ‘LIKE HELL’, out 4th October via Ultra Music.

A six-track project, ‘LIKE HELL’ opens with lead single ‘All My Friends’, a wistful ballad TRACE previously explained was written after she decided she was going to “full-heartedly pursue” a career in music. This vibe continues throughout the EP, with ‘Missing Me’ tapping into the emotions that follow a difficult breakup, while single ‘Make Me Laugh’ continues in a similar vein. Closing things out, title track ‘Like Hell’ provides the EP’s most delicate moments – with sparse instrumentation allowing TRACE’s soft vocals to take centre stage.

Growing up in Orange County, California, the daughter of Carol Kim (known as ‘the Tina Turner of Vietnam’), TRACE never planned to follow her mother\’s footsteps and pursue a career in music. She picked up an acoustic guitar for the first time as a teenager, but didn\’t begin writing songs until her freshman year of college. TRACE found her voice in writing songs, and since then, music has become a personal calling that she hasn’t turned away from.

In 2016, TRACE brought her first EP ‘Low’ to life through a Kickstarter campaign. The four-track project earned her comparisons to the “west coast cool of Lana Del Rey” and the “R&B-kissed ruminations of James Blake,” as well as over 20 million streams and her first record deal.

In early 2018, TRACE made her Ultra Music debut with her single ‘Blood and Bones’, followed by the release of two more singles ‘Side Eye’ (which was featured on The Fader\’s fall list of ‘Best New Pop Songs’) and ‘Anxiety’ which premiered on Forbes. For the latter, TRACE partnered with the California chapter of non-profit organisation National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) to raise awareness on anxiety in the entertainment industry. The partnership included limited-edition merch being sold through TRACE’s site with proceeds benefiting NAMI.

One of the brightest lights to emerge from the west coast music scene in recent years, ‘LIKE HELL’ is a coming-of-age EP that will only enhance the hype that surrounds TRACE.
Though we already featured TRACE’s new EP Like Hell (P.S. read all about the influences behind it HERE), we thought it deserved another serving of love. Spanning six truly remarkable tracks, the release showcases her growth as a songwriter and artist. Over the course of the EP, the LA-based artist explores family, friendships, heartbreak and everything in-between.

The EP opens with the musing sounds of ‘All My Friends’. The track reflects on friendships, as well as the impact social media and life online might have on those relationships. It also captures feelings of loneliness and isolation with her words ‘where did all my friends go?’ leaving you with chills and a sea of thoughts. Next is ‘Missing Me’, which is a captivating slice of dark pop. Home to fierce words, TRACE comes through triumphant on the heartbreak anthem. ‘Crushing’ is a soaring number that talks about rejection and letting someone know that you’re not into them.

Towards the middle of the EP, we’re met by ‘When I Was Young’. The introspective track will give you goosebumps from the very moment that you press play. The EP moves into ‘Make Me Laugh’, which is another badass track that features sharp and scathing words. Like Hell concludes with the release’s title track, which proves to be a magical ending to an exquisite release by TRACE.

TRACE’s special sophomore EP takes listeners through the inner workings of her mind, as well as what it’s like to navigate relationships and the many forms that these relationships take.
— Written by Amy Smolcic (

Native Son (Original Motion Picture Score) - Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein (HBO)

Mastered by Mastering Engineer Saif Bari

Directed by artist Rashid JohnsonNative Son is a contemporary adaptation of Richard Wright‘s 1940 classic novel.

A young African-American named Bigger Thomas(Ashton Sanders) living in Chicago enters into a seductive new world of money and power after he is hired as a chauffeur for an affluent businessman. The film is a subtle, provocative and original look at race relations in the USA.

Rashid Johnson partnered with composing duo Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein (Stranger Things) to craft the score to Native Son. The result is a dark atmosphere where distorted guitars are mixed with subtle ambient and electronic compositions. This is Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein’s first score for a feature film.
Native Son premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and will air on HBO on April 6, 2019


Lido - I O U 2

Mastered by Mastering Engineer Saif Bari

Lido has released part two of his I O U concept album, featuring a plethora of his own vocals–a rare and, at present, particularly warranted inclusion for the multi-talented instrumentalist.

The boundless bearer of beats also packed the highly personal I O U 2 with a visual accompaniment, which saw limited theater release in Chicago, Toronto, and Seattle. The short film, like the EP itself, is quite meta. Ascribing his Everything album from two years back as the official introductory offering to the extended project, a post-breakup catharsis of sorts, Lido deems the I O U EPs as a “reflection on that process.”

Fittingly, Lido’s R&B-routed vocals encircle this conflicted tale of an ex-lover emerging from his scorn, not entirely ready for reconciliation. From newfound perspective, Lido posits on the violin-infused “Ex” that perhaps the romance was ill-fated from the beginning, when he “borrowed” her “‘from the universe.”

While “Flaws” touts ’90s-inspired R&B harmonies and organ synths under the guise of a forthright pop ballad, “Vultures,” “The Lonely Slow Ones,” and “Son Of Simon” exude Lido’s characteristic experimental flickers that render his work so compelling: ambient interruption, vapory synth emissions, and billowy, melancholic vocoder–to name only a few.

TRACE - Crushing (Ultra Music)

Mastered by Mastering Engineer Saif Bari

Unrequited love is a motherf**ker that’s the driving force behind over 80% of all art created (citation needed). Less examined is the specter of being on the receiving end of romantic feelings you have no desire to reciprocate.

There’s an incalculable amount of music and art about being miserable because someone doesn’t like you. But on her brilliant new single “Crushing”, TRACE explores what it’s like to make someone miserable cause you don’t feel the same way about them. Anchored by a dreamy, woozy, alt. pop beat, TRACE spends the duration of the song cooing that she’s not upset by the attention, but has no intention of responding to it in kind. It’s “kinda cute”, but she’s bored by it and feels bad that the rejection will eventually make her would-be crush emotional.

Her delivery is a perfect combination of arrogance, empathy, and bravado. It’s a fantastic song to have on repeat this weekend, regardless of your romantic endeavors (or lack thereof).