We had the good fortune of connecting with Roni Ryckman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Roni, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
As a musician starting at the early age of 16 in the 70’s and a high-school drop out, I was pretty much free to travel, take risks, move to new towns at the blink of an eye etc. The cultural atmosphere then was very “free spirited and my parents were not in the picture so why not? In my early 20’s, a child came along and I found that I needed more stability and the traveling had to be more planned and less often. But along with that came a new found sense of maturity and my focus changed to my child and our life together. Even though music was still important and I stayed in the industry to some degree, it was not the my priority. Moving into the late 80’s and early 90’s I decided to complete my High School and even enter into a bachelor’s degree in college. I realized that there were more opportunities with education and really, I just wanted to finish something I had started and I had an interest in business so in 1994 I completed a B.S. Degree with an emphasis in accounting and a minor in music. Even though I was married and had two more children, I was the main income earner and honestly the main parent (I divorced around the year 2000). This created a conflict for me in between the music industry which has always been a very male-dominated world and being a mother with children, maintaining that life style of travel and pick-up-and-go to a “gig” was intensely difficult so I focused mainly on the business work that I had and my family. Although I found that the business degree really helped my music career and the decision making there as well as the other “hat” of Certified Public Accountant helped the pocket book! Well, as kids do, they grew up and became involved in their lives. New shift in balance and priorities. It’s no surprise that I went back to music, travel and almost back full circle to the beginning. Hopefully with the knowledge of experience though! I will say that as each change has occurred and time has passed, the one thing I hope I have taken from it is that I have tried to learn from the past, change some things about myself, keep some things I thought i wanted to change and understand that everyone is on a different place in their balance and not to be too critical of others.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I covered some of the practical info in the first question regarding my music but as always, there is more to the story….. I was raised by multiple family members and it was tumultuous (at best) for me as a young girl. When I discovered music and more specifically, rock and roll and guitar playing, I was overwhelmed by the power of it and how it inspired me. I don’t remember even realizing that in the mid 70’s there were literally no women playing rock guitar (that I knew of). I was determined to accomplish it. After some non-success and really just grit determination, I was selected as a guitarist in L.A. and signed to a label where I wrote my first song ever. That song went on to become a gold record and hangs on my wall today. Over my plus year career as a musician/writer and singer I have been asked many times for advice for women in this industry and my answer is pretty simple. Just be good and persist. While to be honest, opportunities do present themselves (or don’t as the case may be) solely based on gender, at the end of day, you have to have the “goods”! There is a saying .. “play like a girl” or “throw like a girl” etc… I formed a record label called Play Like a Girl Records about 10 years ago. I would like to think I am helping to change the thinking that doing any thing like a girl is less than powerful!
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?
With no question, we would spend time in Little Italy in San Diego for it’s wonderful food and atmosphere. Real Italians run the place so it’s pretty authentic! Then maybe a bike ride around the beautiful island of Coronado with a stop at the Hotel Del for some cool history. The music venues of San Diego (when they are open) are so diverse and interesting too. Definitely a stopping place for me. Even though I was born in So Cal, I am not “beachy” but I have no problems dropping visitors off and picking the up later!! LOL However, there is nothing like a So Cal sunset and a glass of wine to wind up the day. I was born in Los Angeles but lived in San Diego over 30 years so I have been to all the beach towns and they have so much charm. You could spend more than a week visiting places like Laguna Niguel, Hunting Beach, Santa Monica etc. The mountains are not far away either and I do love a visit to the trees and lakes of Big Bear. I guess that would keep us pretty busy!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Honestly, Joan Jett. She and I began our music careers together in the mid 70s. She was an inspiration to women musicians for that time and now. As far as the business world, my professor at San Diego State, Will Snyder kept me going!
Professional and Performance Photos by: Frank Rodrick