We had the good fortune of connecting with Peter Duff and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Peter, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Work life balance has always been a complicated struggle for me. Since I essentially turned my hobby into my job, the line gets a little blurry. There are of course obvious things that are clearly work or personal, like communicating with clients, marketing, accounting etc. But other things are a little more ambiguous. Is practicing guitar or piano fun personal recreation, or professional development? Is mixing a song I’m really into work just because it’s for a client? Is going to shows for experiencing live music and getting out of the house, or is it networking? In the early years of starting my studio and being self-employed I worked a ton, and my studio was in my home so it was constantly there. After getting burned out and working crazy long 10-14 sessions, I got more serious about trying to have balance by using the normal approaches most people recommend for people that work from home: having a dedicated workspace, set working hours, and then closing up and leaving it at the end of the day. This definitely helped me disconnect and relax more when I wasn’t working, but that also meant I was shutting out the rest of my music which became an unintended casualty. As a result, this ended up making music feel more like work because I never had time during my “working hours” to do the fun stuff. I stopped having in person recording sessions about a year ago and then closed my studio at the end of the summer because of Covid. Since then, I’ve been doing remote mixing, producing, and editing a weekly podcast. But I’ve also been working on my own music and starting a YouTube channel (about music production and the mental health challenges so many musicians experience.) My wife also recently started grad school so I’ve been taking care of most of the cooking and miscellaneous stuff to give her the time she needs to focus on her studies. So I now have what feels like a million things to balance, but I’m hoping to learn from my previous experience in order to find a way to balance things while still being able to enjoy the fun parts of my work and music. These days I’m trying to let myself be more flexible and fluid and pay attention to how I’m feeling. Rather than having set times to work on “work” or my own music, I’m experimenting with scheduling time to work on the most important and/or time sensitive tasks and setting goals for what I want to get done in the week, but otherwise working on whatever I feel like I’m in the best mindset for and give myself permission to go back and forth between personal tasks, work tasks, and relaxing, normally in two hour chunks. We’ll see if that works.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a depressed musician and professional producer/engineer. On my YouTube channel I talk about music, mental health, and making shit sound good. In addition, I write my own music and play in a pop-punk band. I think what sets me apart in my mixing work is my ear, attention to detail, and obsessive pursuit of clarity and energy. In my music and YouTube channel my goal is to be really open about what it’s like to actually do this; good, bad, and ugly. I started playing trombone in elementary school, in middle school I learned guitar and sax, finally, I added piano, bass, and drums in high school. After high school I attended Cal Poly Pomona and got a degree in music industry. From 2014-2020 I ran my own small recording studio and worked mainly with local bands and singer-songwriters.
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?
My favorite restaurants in San Diego are: Coop’s West Texas BBQ, Lemon Grove Deli, Oscar’s Mexican Seafood, Homestyle Hawaiian, Alforon, RB Sushi, and Prado (at Balboa Park.) I used to live right up the street from Coop’s and took all my clients there. Amazing family place. Everything is awesome and I have never had better macaroni and cheese. I also love unique bars. False Idol is an amazing tiki bar in Little Italy (I have read the owner’s cocktail book and love making those drinks as well.) Downtown I love Nobel Experiment, Prohibition, and Lion’s Share for their craft cocktails. Lou and Micky’s by the convention center makes an amazing drink with gin, lemon, strawberry, and basil called a “5th Avenue.” Pop’s liquor cabinet is super cool as well. It’s called “the smallest bar in San Diego” and for good reason. It’s barely 10×10, there are only 4 stools at the bar, and the only way for the bartender to get out from behind the bar is to jump over it. Oh, and the cocktails are great too. My favorite San Diego places are Balboa Park, Old Town, The Gas Lamp, the zoo, and Imperial Beach. I love walking as far south on the beach as you can and looking across to Mexico. It’s really nice because past the last condos there’s nothing down there but nature preserve. It’s very pretty and there’s rarel many people there. Also, check out one of the free organ concerts at Balboa on Sundays. It’s the largest outdoor organ in the world, and sometimes you can get a tour of the inside.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My wife, parents, and in-laws have always been very supportive of me pursuing music and non-traditional employment.
Mario Riviera, Digital Witch, Ryan Foss