Interviews / Musicians

Balancing the Grind with Aaron Ikin, Main Songwriter, Rhythm Guitarist & Lead Vocalist of Love Drunk Hearts

Aaron Ikin is the main songwriter, rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist of Love Drunk Hearts, an Australian band drawing widely from indie, classic and surf rock influences.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I’m the main songwriter, rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist of Love Drunk Hearts.

I started writing songs after losing my Dad to Motor Neuron Disease – the trauma and grief of that experience ignited a drive and steered me on a completely different path.

From that point I learned guitar having always had an ear for music. Singing came next – I had a natural affinity toward this expression. Once the singing and playing were in motion the songs began forming. It takes a lot of bad songs to find a good one and a lot of years to get to the bad ones.

Chris Falkland, Lead Guitarist was first to jump on board. Some of our early songs are still around today. Next came Ben Bryant with a production and arrangement mindset. They have both been mentors and motivators.

Michael Brown came last and brought a lot of professionalism to the table. We all work well together and there is a definite chemistry. This year we released 4 songs! 2 of them being produced by Oscar Dawson of HOLY HOLY. So far, they have been received well and we continue to move forward.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Mondays are my music day. I usually start by writing a list Sunday night (when I’m good) – this is so simple and highly effective. I never get through all the items on the list as I’m naturally optimistic. Most of the time about 75%. It annoys me but maybe one day I’ll complete them all.

I wake up, stretch for 30 min, have a coffee with my partner and sometimes eat breakfast. I like to exercise in the morning for the right mindset – this can be surfing, running or yoga. It’s a good idea to knock off the smaller tasks first to gain momentum into the bigger ones. I try to work through until I feel like I have achieved enough for the day.

The tasks are usually sending emails in relation to the band like booking shows, PR, marketing, releasing and making connections. The connections part is a huge one!

I’m big on the research side of things so continually scouring YouTube and Google for new ways of doing things or hidden truths. Reddit is a great one – this is like pub talk. I’d like to spend more time song writing and producing but it’s a continual balance between the manager hat and the songwriting one.

The other days I work currently as an IT Manager.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Completely flexible and remote. I feel so lucky to have this with both jobs. It took a long time to get there and it’s something I don’t take for granted. I’m just starting on home production so aiming to have a ‘take anywhere’ kit.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I think the time away from work is just as important as the work. I’ve been in situations where I haven’t worked enough, and I’ve worked too much.

Finding the in between is key. Having space to rest your mind although counterintuitive allows for more productivity. Exercise and sleep are a huge one for me. Without both I’m a completely different person and tasks just seem harder.

I’m extremely lucky to have Mondays for music – this in itself seems balanced to me. There are so many things to juggle so it’s being efficient with each thing, a learning in progress. I’m continually searching for hacks to improve your life.

As they say the devil is definitely in the detail and sometimes changing little things although subtle can have a big effect on your life. It’s all about efficiency and reaching your potential. You really want to feel like you’re continually moving forward, challenged, recognised and rewarded.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

Biggest one has been stretching! Complete game changer. As a runner and surfer, it just bounced my body back. I try to stretch at least 3 – 4 times a week as soon as I wake up.

No phone for the first half an hour. Your time. It’s meditation and sets you for the day. Remarkable how much of a difference it makes. I’m a big believer in minimal stress in the morning. We should all focus on our own self and life before jumping on social media and being addicted to someone else’s.

A proper amount of sleep is also another crucial habit. I’ve spent enough time not getting enough of it and now I’m trying to catch up. Reading before bed is very good for the mind – I try to turn my phone off 30 min before bed also. The least amount of drinking you can do the better I say. I don’t mind a good blow out every now and again because we need that.

I like to listen to podcasts and run – this is double productivity and you really soak the content in. I listen to a lot of voice memos and write melodies doing this too. Every now and again I find a gem.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I’m not a big reader – something I’d like to change. There are some great newsletters like AWAL, Spotify, Landr. They are on the pulse and keep you in the know.

Podcasts are a completely different beast. I love these! Most of the ones I listen to are in the realm of music. Here is a quick list for all the musicians out there:

  • Song Exploder
  • Sodajerker
  • Holistic Songwriting
  • Burstimo
  • Damian Keyes
  • Andrew Southworth

7)  Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

I’m not really into gadgets and apps but I’d have to say I definitely can’t live without coffee haha and my guitar.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be? 

Arnie. Bill Gates. John Mayer.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

It’s cliche but work isn’t really work when you are doing something you truly love. There are a lot of traits that are required to get to your goals, and these are forever changing along the way: persistence, insistence, drive, ambition, resilience and open mindedness.

A big realisation for me has been just because you find something you love and decide to follow doesn’t mean it will be easy. It’s easy to accept all the highs and vital to reflect but it’s in the lows where the most learning is.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.