Ervin Mitchell is an independent rapper and songwriter, hailing from Memphis, Tennessee and currently residing in Atlanta, Georgia.
He has mastered his live performance through everything from shows with OG Maco, festival stages at SXSW, to high energy romps at iconic venues like The Masquerade and Center Stage in Atlanta.
Balance the Grind spoke to Ervin about his music career, growing up in Memphis, building focus by relaxing, meditation, creativity, work-life balance and more.
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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your background and music career to date?
My background is vast man. I’ve experienced a lot. My dad is the one who really got me into music. It was weird at first because I didn’t actually meet my father until I was around 8 years old. Up until that point, I thought someone else was my father. It was really trippy.
I felt like a real life Fresh Prince of Bel Air or at least that’s how I always enjoyed looking at it. I was raised by a great and beautiful and spiritual family so I never wanted for anything as a kid.
My mom and my grandparents spoiled me a lot when I was younger and that love was good for me but the town we lived in wasn’t always the most forward thinking environment. It wasn’t particularly dangerous but it was a small town so the mentality was a bit constrained.
A lot of people there didn’t really think the world outside of where we lived was available to them. It was like a fantasy in ways. We saw people on television but not many saw it as real. My mother always taught me to be creative and she really promoted that with my siblings and I.
Even when she couldn’t afford it, she never wanted us to feel less than or that we lacked anything and we never did. I love her forever for that. I also love her for knowing that I had outgrown my environment and finding the courage to allow me to move in with my father.
That took a lot out of her and I love her for it. My dad lived in Memphis. The suburbs of Memphis. Memphis isn’t a huge city but it was a huge jump from my rural upbringing in Louisiana. I had never lived in a house that big before.
The whole thing was a bit overwhelming to me at first but I was eventually able to find somewhat of a footing. My dad was really strict and I hated it at times but the things he taught me early on have really given me the foundation I still use today to advance with my music.
2) What does a typical day in the life of an independent musician look like? Can you take us through a recent day?
A typical day in my life varies. Right now, my days usually start with me giving gratitude. I’ve been in the process of making that a consistent part of my daily routine.
I’ve struggled a bit but I’m certainly making progress and see big differences. After that I sometimes meditate or do some Tai chi and center myself. This is very important because I tend to follow a down trend throughout the day if my mornings aren’t handled properly.
Once I’m centered, I just list out my schedule for that day. It usually includes making music every day. I also like to leave a lot of space to feed my mind. I’m very conscious of what I input into my brain nowadays especially.
My days are just basically filled with creating new ideas and also building with other artists and doing shows as well.
Lately, I’ve been focusing more on developing my live show so I have been studying the greats in those areas. I’ve also been educating myself on how to become financially free.
That’s very important to me. I focus my days on expansion. Just getting better than I was the day before.
3) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?
I manage my workload by just learning to relax and trust the process of everything.
No matter how much I may want something to happen right now, it can only happen when it is time for that thing to come to pass. Resisting this doesn’t make the universe process any faster.
If anything it slows down the process because you lose focus on the day to day tasks that will lead to a dream or vision coming to pass. My tip would be breathing in deeply and re-centering throughout the day.
It sounds like it won’t do much but it works wonders. Things like meditation and taking deep belly breaths really help to clear the mind and relieve my stress. I go into my head easily. I am always thinking so I consciously practice breathing and relaxing into my body.
The only way to handle a heavy workload is to stay focused and a great way to build focus is through relaxing and trusting your body more. It’s all about relieving stress and it’s not something you can think your way into. You have to feel it.
4) In between your music career, life and all your other responsibilities, how do you ensure you find some sort of balance in your life?
I create a system where everything that I do feeds into the next thing. My relaxation and recharge time feeds my creativity. My relationships with my friends and family feed my creativity.
Just living my day to day life in Atlanta and networking and meeting new people feeds my creativity. There are times where I have to lock in and really grind it out but something I always try to remember is that I am an artist.
As an artist, I have to take care of my mind and body so that I can share the messages that I need to share without the message being tainted.
I can’t do that if I’m stressed out. I don’t view it as a work and life balance. I view it all as one thing. My life and my art are one and the same.
5) What does work life balance mean to you?
Work-life balance to me is all about finding your passion. You won’t have to worry about work-life balance so much if you’re passionate about what you’re doing.
Once you learn your passions all the other aspects of balancing your life are gained through that experience. It’s different for everyone. I just advise people to explore and learn for themselves.
Tactics are fine but ultimately you have to study yourself and figure out what works for you because no one else can define that for you.
6) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?
I hate to sound like a broken record but the thing that really motivates me to succeed is my passion. I just love to create and share.
I have always had a lot of wisdom that I never understood. I was a small kid and I just knew things. I knew the things I knew were important but I just didn’t know what the importance was.
Over time, I have realized that my job is to share that wisdom with people who may not have had the experiences that I have had. My job is to inspire them and show them a new way. A habit I have developed is to always stay present.
This all goes back to what I was saying earlier, just breathing and meditations and becoming comfortable with my thoughts.Once you are comfortable within your own mind, It really changes everything.
Meditation is one way to get there and there are many forms of mediation. Anything that relaxes you is meditation. I don’t like to define the rules for people.
7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
The number one thing I do is give gratitude. It’s a weird concept to some but giving thanks for things really keeps you focused.
If you wake up sad and depressed, your brain drifts away from positivity and advancement and then you begin to doubt yourself. Gratitude reminds you of where you have been and how far you have come and how far you can go.
8) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I’d say that ultimately it’s about working smart and not hard and building a system that works for you.
In the beginning, it’s all about gaining as many experiences as possible but after that it becomes about taking that knowledge and learning to be more efficient. It’s trial and error and being ok with not having what you want right now.
Just focus on mastering the task at hand and set the proper intentions. By that I mean, define what you truly want to yourself. Everything you ever do in life will be against the grain if you’re an innovator so you have to know what your vision is or no one else can.
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