fatherhood + creativity: Stavros Yiannoukas

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Stavros Yiannoukas, or Stav, is an ARIA-nominated musician, creator of eBook Elliot Foxley, a father and the second person (ever!) to be featured in our Fatherhood + Creativity series. He talks to us about how his family and even Aristotle inspire his work.

Tell us about your work.

I sort of fell into singing as I’m not formally trained. Loads of practice in the shower helped. I actively pursued voice acting work. I credit my (subconscious) interest in this field to a friend, Talia, who always told me I had a nice voice on the phone. Back when people actually used phones to talk to other people…

As for writing kids books, when my nephew Elliot Foxlee was born I thought he had a cool name, so I wrote him a story about a fox called ELLIOT FOXLEY! It’s all about loss and family and home being complicated. I’m super proud of it.

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People often say that parenthood changed them. Do you feel that’s true for you?

For sure it changed me, but perhaps less so than most. My wife and I always made a conscious effort to ensure our boys could function (or hopefully thrive) in a variety of settings. We took our firstborn to Splendour in the Grass when he was just 8 weeks old (!) because I was playing a show with Bluejuice, which sort of sums up our approach. The boys have always been super adaptive and able to sleep, play or hang out in a bunch of places – loud or quiet, busy or chilled – which in turn made our lives more flexible and allowed us to keep doing the things we loved, that others might have given up.

Being a father is as fun and stressful, brilliant and demanding as I expected. You just do your best to learn and grow. The moment you accept that children are random variables that no formula can calculate, everything falls into place.

What drives you in your creative endeavors, and what inspires your creativity?

The birth of my nephew and the passing of my father inspired my eBook ELLIOT FOXLEY. The cool thing about it being on iPad and iPhone is that it features two songs, Everybody Fades and No Last Prize that are about my father and my boys respectively… so these days family is absolutely in everything I do creatively.

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Do you include your family in your creativity or do you compartmentalise?

When I’m doing the work I compartmentalise it, but as I’m an extrovert, my energy comes from the outside so collaboration and discussion are pretty important to anything I create. My wife, who was an animation voice actor for seven years in Korea, is always a brilliant sounding board for me… and she’s the narrator and voice of ELLIOT FOXLEY!

What changes would make to your current life to allow for more creative time?

If there were changes I wanted to make for more creative time, I would just make them. I think any mindset that denies one’s ability to choose, results in a loss of one’s freedom and severe dissatisfaction. So my happiness, sense of choice and general life balance are all in a good spot… but that takes a deep understanding of your goals, an ability to assess them periodically and the relentless pursuit of satisfaction.Stav-and-Fiona-and-Yiannis-fatherhood_creativity

What’s the best creative advice you’ve been given?

Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”

In other words…work your ass off. Always.

What does it mean to you to be an Australian creative, who is also a parent?

I guess I’ve always seen myself as human first and not belonging strongly to any particular tribe, but it’s always fulfilling to be a part of a community of creativity if you can find it. I’m always looking for new creative communities to connect with and being a parent definitely expands your circle and your creativity.

Stav is a father of two, a voice actor, a former singer in the band Bluejuice and the creator of eBook Elliot Foxley (which we have included in our upcoming June 2017 Rumpus Room). He lives in NSW with his wife and their two children. You can find him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Words Daisy Chein / Images by Dan Boud