We had the good fortune of connecting with Justin Wright and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Justin, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
To be honest, balance has become a massive component when it comes to a healthy and well-rounded lifestyle for myself. At least this is what I attempt to do. The concept, or mindset, of balance positively affects my work, and it also permeates into everything that I am a part of. Exercise. Friends. Family. Romance. Consuming entertainment. Food. Travel. Etc. I often like to think about phases in my life in regards to statements or mantras. For a time “rhythm” was a mantra of mine that I was seeking after. My life was so hectic with what felt like a zillion things going on (touring with bands, freelancing as much as possible, working side-jobs to help with income, trying to keep up a social life, etc.), that I did not have any balance or rhythm. To me, I feel like humans tend to be drawn toward stable things that offer security and consistency. After so many years of not having balance I learned that (for myself) I needed a more consistent rhythm throughout all that I do. This is not to say that anyone’s life should be routine or on some sort of auto-pilot (unless they want it to look like that). What I’m saying is just that I believe it is very important for everyone to find a sense of groundedness and rhythm in their lives so that they can truly thrive in what they are choosing to participate in. My life is by no means routine, but I’ve found ways to bring balance and rhythm into it so that I can (hopefully) be as healthy of an individual as possible. To be specific I’ve found that exercise, meditation (the Headspace app has been really great for me), intentionally connecting with friends and family (while also finding time to be by myself), and cooking/baking have helped me find a sense of consistency and balance. Since so much of our culture now is in the digital space and/or mobile, it’s becoming more important (in my opinion) to have balance between work and all of the other things in our lives. I used to work on a laptop and would ALWAYS be tempted to open up something to work on, even if I was on a vacation or visiting my family in Northern California. I feel like as a “creative” there is always something that I could be working on. If there isn’t much freelance work for other clients, then I can work on my own personal projects. Over time I realized that I wasn’t truly finding rest when I was trying to “unplug”. Gradually I trained myself to mentally shut off those areas of my brain that were beckoning me back to whatever project or work that I could be doing. Nowadays I have a home studio that I work from and I literally CANNOT edit any project while I am traveling, which for me has been very healthy. It forced me to have to not work when I was away from “work”. I realize that this isn’t possible for everyone, and it doesn’t need to be. What I’m trying to say is that it’s really important to mentally find a balance between work mode and life mode. Sometimes business will be more busy than others, requiring you to work more than normal. That’s completely okay, and congratulations on having lots of work! Other times business will be slow, requiring you to push yourself more to get stuff done. A lot of people work from home (even more so with COVID 19) and it’s important to find a sense of balance in your physical space, as well. Having a physical sense of separation is really important for your mind and body to relax or switch gears. I feel like this is more of a subconscious thing, but over the years it has greatly benefited me. Try to find ways to distinguish between work and life modes if the lines between them are grey. It’s easy if you have an office somewhere else, like a co-working space for example, but working from home can be difficult to psychologically manage. In summary, I feel that I’ve been able to create healthy rhythms and boundaries in the various aspects of my life, but that has taken a lot of time and patience, and it is important to be self-compassionate throughout.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My professional life has been a consistent state of growing and learning, throughout many different seasons of life. There have been times where things have been super busy, and other times where things have been relatively slow. No matter what kind of season I’ve been in I have tried to intentionally put myself in positions to grow and learn. Some of those times have been easy, some have been really difficult. I would say that all of them have been worth it. All of my experiences have taught me something about my work and about life as a whole. I think continually choosing to grow and learn and evolve is what will help one’s lifestyle develop into something more clearly defined and authentic to who one is. We are better people because we choose to grow and learn. I was a literature major in college, and something I try to do in every single project is incorporate elements of storytelling. I really do believe that all of us are drawn to narratives about struggle and growth. It’s why we, as a species, enjoy consuming content so much (whether that’s watching a movie, reading a book, or hearing someone tell a tall tale or myth). We relate to characters because we may have experienced some of the same emotions. So when I am working on something I try to tap into that emotional connection that harkens back to a timeless narrative that we all can identify with (maybe you could call it the “human condition” or something like that). I have five different projects or bands that I have released music with. Currently, I have sixteen records released over the last 10 years or so. In 2021 I am planning on releasing seven orchestral records co-written with a close friend of mine, as well as a concept “album” consisting of four different records inspired by James Baldwin’s writings (featuring other composers, as well as spoken word artists). I write A TON of music and it’s nice to have different “identities” to express different types of music through. – A New Normal (electro/cinematic) My last big ANN record (Look and Listen, 2018) featured all-female singer/songwriters and was part of a human trafficking awareness campaign. – Justin H. Wright (orchestral/cinematic) – Allergic to the Sun (lofi chill hop) – Daydream Arithmetic (post-rock/orchestral) Collaborated with Katie Chastain, of the duo Faux Fix (with her husband Nathan Johnson, who does a lot of scoring for films such as Knives Out and Looper) – Polycoma (electro synth pop)
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?
Obviously, this list is for non-COVID time, haha. I live in Golden Hill, and I think it has some of the best local spots. I like it because it has one of everything you need. One market. One (sort of) dive bar. One hip bar. One ice cream place. Two classic coffee shops. One third-wave coffee shop. Several taco shops. One pizza place. One Thai place. One diner. One panaderia. I hit up these places all the time because they’re excellent and they’re in my neighborhood within walking distance. Here’s a list of some of my other favorite spots: – Deli: Fatboy’s in North Park or Park Boulevard Deli in University Heights – Bottlecraft (any location); being able to buy individual cans or bottles is clutch – Verbatim used book store – Rip Current brewery – Chinese: Kangxi is Coming on Convoy Street – Milk Tea/Boba: Kung Fu Tea off on Convoy Street – Pizza: Mr. Moto’s – Italian food: Buona Forchetta (South Park) – Tacos: Tacos El Gordo (Chula Vista) – Charcuterie/cheese board: Panama 66 in Balboa Park (plus they have live jazz often) – Music venues: The Observatory, Soda Bar, Belly Up – Urban winery: Caruth Cellars Wine Garden in Little Italy – Siesel’s Meat Market for high-quality bbq items – Hamilton’s Tavern is my favorite beer bar in town (it feels like a neighborhood pub to me) – Pappalecco coffee shop, bakery, and gelato (Hillcrest) – Balboa Park hikes and/or walks – Pizza Port in Ocean Beach is my overall #1 favorite hangout spot
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?
This may sound cheesy, but honestly, my family and friends have continually been my biggest cheerleaders and support group. I feel really fortunate to have such solid people in my life. Community is vital!
Other: https://open.spotify.com/artist/6VJnJ6OWeHKZzGlEumBPHa?si=Qb4c9DssTPqhR7hkowEyJw https://open.spotify.com/artist/3L90DATZatDrSDpwmNNGCV?si=kzu3M4mRT1Sui1UiWYfhKw https://open.spotify.com/artist/7sGveYGrYzuz6z7LBjygt3?si=9wfxodJ1RVGPXL-g_A7NyQ https://open.spotify.com/artist/2KgzzBi2VKOCQTwFnwVLd1?si=4zYYLB-VRz66pmKOO7hfUQ
David’s Harp Foundation Evan Yamada Sarah Shreves