We had the good fortune of connecting with Nick Special and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nick, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
My work/life balance has changed drastically since I started my career in music. When I was a jazz studies student in college I developed some bad habits from a program that encouraged sleeping less and practicing more; where your worth was valued by the amount of hours spent in a practice room above all else. With my natural inclination towards obsessive behavior it wasn’t a good combination. It’s just been in the last year or two that I’ve finally realized that life isn’t linear. Success isn’t promised just by putting in the work. Of course that’s part of it, but there are so many things that play into your success like your relationships with people, how you treat yourself and how that translates to how you treat other people. Life isn’t about putting your head down until you reach the finish line. It finally hit me that everything I resent about the concept of working some job you don’t like for the mirage of retirement; prolonging your happiness for some future date that may or may not come was exactly what I was doing with working all day and night on having a successful music career. I was using my current happiness as currency and gambling it against future happiness. That’s a big risk to take.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve done a lot of different things in the music industry. When I was 18 I started a band in Denver, CO called Air Dubai that signed a record deal, toured, and was pretty much my life for six years. When that ended, I starting getting hired as a freelance drummer and toured internationally for artists like The Wind and The Wave, Dagny, and Cray. In the last several years I’ve been producing for artists and making my own music, but my career as a solo artist still feels very new to me. Sometimes I get discouraged by what sometimes feels like starting over every time I pick something new to focus on, it’s also extremely invigorating and challenging for me to tackle something I’m not as experienced at. Oftentimes I lose perspective and feel the heavy weight of imposter syndrome, but it’s fun for me to continually challenge myself and the thought of creating my own world music as honest as I can make it is really exciting to me.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Anytime anyone comes to visit, the trip is almost entirely focused on food. I love the taco spot El Ruso, Shrimp Cocktails at Mariscos Cuyutlan Colima, Tortas at Wendy’s Tortas and honestly a thousand other places. LA is hands down one of the world’s greatest and most diverse food cultures.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’ve been lucky to have a family that’s always been supportive of me pursuing a career in music (especially since none of them are musicians). I really owe everything to them – my parents were there for every performance from elementary school band to seeing me play on stages in front of 10,000 people.