How Traces crafted “Waited”

The emerging songwriter chats about his creative process

Photo by Dave Berg

It’s never too late to rave about a great song. “Waited” by TRACES is one of those exceptional songs that deserve more time in the spotlight. Admittedly, I’m a bit late to the party. The song was released almost a year ago as a stand-alone single, and it was included on TRACES’s debut album that he unveiled earlier this year.

I love learning about the stories behind great songs from the people that made them. Songwriters stir up magic with their ability to capture a complexity of emotions in neat, little packages that have the power to comfort, inspire, and uplift. I talked with TRACES (born Tim Dehner) about “Waited” to learn what fueled the song and how it was created.

“Waited” is a great tastemaker for TRACES’s debut album, titled 6HRS, which was released in April. It’s an inspired alternative pop record ruled by his introspective storytelling. The San Diego-born artist and songwriter names people like Ryan Tedder, Banks, and James Blake as some of his biggest inspirations. He perfectly balances his penchant for hooky pop with his love for alternative production stylings on the album.

Produced together with David Burris, “Waited” is one of the standout tracks on 6HRS that hit a nerve with me instantly. Just shy of 3-minutes in length, the song is an outpouring of emotion that is wonderfully performed and perfectly produced. It tells the story of a loving, yet broken relationship that’s past the point of fixing.

TRACES wears his heart on his sleeves in the song’s brooding chorus, “I waited, waited, waited, waited way too long/And now we gotta face each other/But we don’t want to hurt each other.”

TRACES explains that he wrote “Waited” right before a breakup. The emotional intensity of the song was also inspired by feelings of anxiety and depression that he was dealing with following a health issue. “I wasn’t sure how to fix the problems with myself, and I didn’t know what to do with the problems in my relationship as well,” he confides. “I kept a journal during that time, and while writing ‘Waited,’ many of the words from that journal just started coming out.”

“I wanted to figure out a way to have ‘Waited’ relate to as many people as possible.”

TRACES embraces his love for pop writing on “Waited.” He tells me that the song was crafted very quickly. “We were at the end of the writing session for the album, and I had to finish one more song. I wanted to do something more focused, and there was a lot of emotion brewing for me personally. The verses hit me in seconds. That rarely happens.”

He adds, “It’s one of those rare occasions that the emotions are right, you’re in the right space, and you know how to make sense of it all. You just have a gut feeling you’re on a wave, and you don’t want it to end. You try to ride that forward momentum as long as you possibly can.”

Tapping into a deep emotion can be terrifying for a songwriter. “[‘Waited’] is about a situation that’s really, really personal,” TRACES explains. “Something that was happening in my life while I was working on the song. But when you are scared of it, then it’s actually an emotion to lean into. You tap into a level of honesty that will connect with people.”

“That made me want to get it out and get it right because I knew people would be able to relate.”

TRACES agrees that one of the great qualities of pop music is that it has the power to be timeless and resonate broadly. So even though “Waited” is very personal, its lyrics can be understood far and wide. “I love pop music, and with this song, in particular, I wanted to figure out a way to have it relate to as many people as possible.”

Mission accomplished. “Waited” is a song to cherish no matter what state of mind you’re in.

Listen to “Waited” and 6HRS.

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