We had the good fortune of connecting with Sam X and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sam, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
When I began my foray into the music industry, I was set on working non-stop until I achieved my goals. I worked day and night, seven days a week, for two to three years straight, without taking any time off and jumping on any opportunity that presented itself. That was when I burned out – and when I say burned out, I mean like a campfire drowning in an avalanche. I was down for the count and couldn’t dig myself out of the rut that had formed where I used to find my creativity. Getting to that low point where I couldn’t even write or produce music was what showed me the inherent necessity of developing a sustainable work-life balance. I started with self-care – something I had spent my entire life neglecting up until that point. Mindfulness meditation set me off, and after about a month of consistency, I added physical fitness to the routine. I began to train every day, body and mind, first thing in the morning. After that I built a morning and an evening routine. In the morning I would get up, meditate, exercise, shower, and eat. In the evening I would make dinner, relax, and then sit down to practice piano, and guitar for about three hours. With that added structure came consistency and stability, which allowed me to dedicate the middle of my day to chaos – the creation of music. After my morning routine was complete, I would sit down and prime myself with a creative writing exercise which would be my signal to myself that, once finished, it was time to make music. I follow this schedule to this day, and have been honing it over the past three years or so. That balance between structure and chaos is what allows me to work five days a week on music without burning out. I take one to two evenings a week to catch up with friends or go out to see live music, I leave Saturdays open for recording sessions or adventures, and I take Sundays off to go grocery shopping, meal prep, and plan my week. Learning to set boundaries with my friends, family, the artists I work with, and most importantly myself, has led to a sustainable career where I get a healthy dose of creative chaos, and the reassuring calm that comes with knowing roughly what is to come.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My focus as a music producer and songwriter is on Artist Development. I sit with artists and help bring their best ideas to life. I like to spend a couple of hours talking and hanging out casually before we write any music and I use that time to open up about myself and my past so that they feel like they’re in a safe space where they can share their story authentically. I run through a creative writing exercise with everyone I work with at the top of our recording sessions that almost always gets people excited to write – I think of it as a creative primer to get the ideas churning in the mind. Then we write! Usually, we’re bouncing ideas off one another constantly, pacing around the room like energetic children, spouting off ludicrous ideas and story arcs that, piece by piece, we use to build a song. My favorite thing to do is tell stories, as a musician and an aspiring author. I’m so excited to be working with such talented musicians in this beautiful city and I’m thrilled that after recovering from my burnout, I am always happy to get back to it and make music! Getting here has definitely not been easy, but I don’t think anything that lasts ever is. I began my career as an electronic music producer and DJ which I pursued for several years. I went into a dark depression when I burned out, and coming out of it, I realized I no longer wanted to focus only on electronic music or being a DJ, I wanted to just make music – any kind of music that made me happy. Once I was able to finally verbalize this to myself, and my circle, I was able to set out on the path I’m on today which is writing songs and producing music across genres. Being honest about what you really want is crucial, and an extremely emotionally taxing necessity for those wanting to hone in on their passion and craft. I thought I was passionate about electronic music, when really I was passionate about storytelling, in any form which that might take. I think the most important lesson I ever learned was that the first win you receive arrives when you show up. Just sitting down to create is a win, regardless of the outcome – and that mentality will allow you to continue to show up and win. Even if the art you make on Friday is not as good as the art you made on Tuesday, the fact that you showed up and did the work in the first place is enough.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Hiking through Topanga Stage Park is absolutely beautiful – there’s even a trail that leads to massive wells of stone that were dug by water droplets falling in place for thousands of years. The two best ice cream spots in town are Salt & Straw and Jenni’s – you can’t go wrong with the Sea Salt Caramel with Caramel Ribbons from S&S or the Gooey Butter Cake from Jenni’s! The Bazaar is one of my favorite restaurants – steaming glowing drinks and an artisanal multi-course meal that will leave you wondering how you’ve never been there before. And of course, a classic trip for any tourist would have to include biking through Santa Monica, cruising along Venice beach, and going for a night ride on the Ferris wheel at the Santa Monica pier.
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?
There are so many people I have to thank for where I am on this one wild ride called life! My mom, Rebecca Perlow is number one – she always encouraged me to pursue creative endeavors. Her passion for medicine clearly rubbed off on me and with her guidance and support, I’ve been able to grow and nurture my passion for music. Jayson Legacy is also a big one to thank considering he was the person who influenced me to pursue an education in music! Without that gentle push, I might not have considered this career path. My best friend Sebastian Patrono helped me learn how to survive and thrive in the music industry. His friendship and the daily phone calls we share philosophizing about life, dreams, and goals have kept my compass in the right direction.