We had the good fortune of connecting with Nathan Stack and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nathan, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
My personal philosophy is work to live, not live to work. A healthy work-life balance is of the highest importance to me because my career is only a part of my life — a significant part, but a part nonetheless. I’ve always wanted to be a career musician, but that is increasingly unattainable, and I have always had a day job.
Because many of my priorities and interests lie outside my career, I’ve made it a point to ensure work doesn’t encroach on them too much. I am a believer in the 40-hour work week — it should be enough time, on a regular basis, to contribute what I need to in order to earn a living and help move my employer’s business forward.
There have been times I’ve allowed that balance to shift in favor of work, but for the most part I’ve been able to stick to those 40 hours, as well as to not feel compelled to be “on call” — for example, I rarely check work emails after I sign off for the evening.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve been a musician for many years. I’ve played in bands a bit but have focused almost entirely on being a solo recording artist. I’m very DIY, writing and recording on my own at home. I learned pretty early on the benefits of being a self-sufficient musician/engineer, and that has had the biggest impact on my ability to get music out into the world. If I had to rely on others, my output would be a small fraction of what it is — and as it stands, I would love to be putting out way more music than I do.
I have two solo projects: Autohypnosis (electronic pop/rock) and Shadowy Lines (ambient soundscapes). Between the two, I can find a home for most of the musical ideas I want to realize.
I’ve been doing it long enough that I know how to create music that’s artistically satisfying to me, which is the real driving force. That’s not to say I don’t sometimes experience writer’s block or struggle to achieve the sound I have in my head. But the purely creative side of things is actually the easier part for me.
The two persistent challenges I have to address are 1) the amount of time I can (or that I choose to) devote to music and 2) reaching audiences who are interested in my music. With the former, that’s where a proper work-life balance becomes very important; I try to fit in little moments for music-making throughout the week, in addition to any longer sessions on weekends, With the latter, I am one small wave in an ocean of musicians putting out an unprecedented amount of music every day. It’s almost impossible to stand out, which is sometimes pretty depressing, but it helps to realign with my core value of making art for myself, not for any external validation (nice as that can be).
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m a huge fan of Los Angeles’ art museums, especially MOCA and LACMA, and I’ve enjoyed bringing friends and family members to those two. I’ve just recently gotten turned on to the Craft Contemporary Museum, and a couple galleries I’ve visited multiple times are KP Projects and LAUNCH LA.
The Petersen Automotive Museum is another place I’ve enjoyed going to with friends. Amazing collection of cars that’s always evolving.
Cliché as it might be, I also really love taking friends visiting LA for the first time to a lookout in the Hollywood Hills overseeing landmarks such as the Capitol Records building, the Hollywood Bowl and the downtown skyline. Even after many years of living in LA, I still love seeing the vastness of the city.
Venice Beach is another favorite area. I’m a skateboarder, and the skatepark there is one of my favorites in SoCal. Plus there’s almost no better place for people-watching than Venice. And, y’know, it’s on the beach.
Some noteworthy restaurants are Gloria’s Café, Natalee Thai, Saigon Dish, Hoy-Ka, Village Pizzeria and Poquito Mas.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Speaking specifically about my music endeavors, I have to give a ton of credit to two of the most important people in my life: my brother, Micah, and my best friend, Dave. Both helped me learn and develop certain fundamentals related to writing, performing and recording music, and they continue to be sounding boards and supporters many years later.