We had the good fortune of connecting with John Mark Nelson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi John Mark, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Typical of most creative people, I worked pretty voraciously in my teens and early twenties without ever really thinking about balance or having a life outside of making music. In a lot of ways, I suppose that is a necessary step in building your abilities and career. Now, as I am just around the corner from 30, balance feels like one of the things I pursue and crave the most. I absolutely love my work as a songwriter, producer, music maker, but if it isn’t offset by an equal and opposite force of being a whole person, I have a very short fuse until burnout sets in. I think I am also more aware of how much my life outside of music informs my life within music. Cooking, reading, being outside, spending time with people you love – I think those actually might be the ingredients art is made from.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My journey in music has been winding and somewhat confusing! I started my life as a very acoustic, folky, singer-songwriter in Minnesota, releasing records and touring under my own name. That whole chapter was very DIY, and without realizing it, I was haphazardly learning to record and produce my own music. That resulted in other musician friends asking me to help make and record their music. Suddenly I was a part time singer-songwriter and a part time producer. Then in 2019, I got an out of the blue offer to move to LA and work under Dan Wilson at his songwriting and production studio. The two years I spent there taught me so much about the art and craft of writing and recording music that I became inspired to strike out on my own and start making my own music again. Now I once again split my time between making my own music and helping other people make their music. Spending time on both the artist side and the production side gives me a unique approach to making music, and it’s only by looking back that I can see how each distinct season informs everything I do today.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
A slight disclaimer on this itinerary is that my wife and I have lived in the city for three years, nearly two of which were various stages of COVID lockdown. So in many ways we feel like we are just discovering the city.

I am a big fan of being outside, camping, hiking, so our friends would have to tolerate a lot of that. For hikes in the city I would make sure to stop by Griffith – I like starting at Fern Dell, heading up to the Observatory and then up through the Berlin Forrest to Mount Hollywood. Further out, I would also make sure to do a section of the Piuma trail off Malibu Canyon Road, which ends up linking with the Santa Monica Mountains Backbone Trail. I would be sure the trip included at least one very lazy beach day out in near Malibu, maybe Zuma or El Matador, stopping for some post-beach dinner at either Neptune’s Net or Cholada. In our little Hollywood/West Hollywood corner of the city I would make sure to hit Sightglass for a good cup of coffee, El Compadre for some margaritas and delicious food, Yamashiro for a drink and beautiful view. I would also encourage an outdoor movie at Hollywood Forever Cemetery and a comedy show at the Hayworth. And if we had a craving for some nature, I might suggest a trip to the Huntington Gardens or a night of camping and stargazing on Mt. Pinos.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to songwriter & producer Dan Wilson! Dan was the person that encouraged me to take a leap of faith and move from my home state of Minnesota out to Los Angeles to pursue music in a new and deeper way. I have learned so much working with Dan and am grateful for his presence in my life as a mentor and friend.

Website: https://www.johnmarknelson.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/johnmarknelson/?hl=en

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNGQ83GzoRR_OROBYWQ2hcw

Other: TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@johnmarknelson?lang=en

Image Credits
All file names starting with “jmn” taken by Molly Adams All files names starting with “dscf” taken by Sarah Nelson

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