Under the moniker TRACES, Tim Dehnert shows a side of himself that is vulnerable in every way. Inspired by Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic and Isaac Slade of The Fray, Dehnert aims to create music that will make people feel. His latest EP, Heart of Gold, is the first in a three-part release that is very introspective with a tone that he and his team refer to as ‘aggressively submissive.’ Written during his move from San Diego to Los Angeles, Dehnert struggled with depression and anxiety, but turned to writing to make sense of the emotions he was feeling while helping others who felt the same way. He shares, “I had a couple friends that came up to me saying, ‘You have an outlet, not everyone has an outlet…if you want to be like all these artists that talk about these real things that make you feel this way, do it.’” And so he did.

As a music industry studies major, Dehnert has had the help from many including some incredible professors who have helped him grow as a musician. In fact, college was a means for Dehnert to move to L.A. For the first two years of his college career, he would have class from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and then spend the remainder of the day doing sessions, six days a week. Although this would be exhausting for most, Dehnert would spend the majority of his day wondering when he would be able to get back in the studio to write songs.

For him, writing was never a hassle. It was more about sharing personal experiences and figuring out why we feel the way we do. Dehnert was tired of seeing artists who have spent their career talking about the things that hurt deep down, but never saying what was going on and still struggling with those emotions years later. After the release of his first EP, his father gave him some words of advice—to not wallow in your struggles, but instead work towards moving on from them. With that in mind, the themes for his three EPs began to fall into place.

The first, Heart of Gold, discusses what it feels like to be frustrated and angry because you have fallen into submission to things like depression, anxiety, and your personal fears. “It’s this spiral of where you start to feel bad for yourself, but then you start to feel bad that you’re feeling bad for yourself,” he shares. With the second, which is expected to drop early this year, the focus will be on moving past those feelings of aggression. He expands, “What is life outside of anxiety and essentially things that are detaining you from living your full life?” The theme of the third EP is still a work in progress but is expected to follow suit in the process of moving past the things that may be the most debilitating.

For Dehnert, the goal is to create music that is relatable and will help give a voice to those who are struggling to speak up. As individuals, we grow and change every day, so why not do it together with a little help from music? We look forward to the final pieces of Dehnert’s three-part release and seeing how his unique sound will continue to evolve.

*A version of this interview first ran in the current print issue of Substream Magazine, on stands now and available through our online store!