We had the good fortune of connecting with Johnny Romero and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Johnny, as a parent, what do you feel is the most meaningful thing you’ve done for your children?
I must begin this by saying that I definitely do not have all the answers, most especially when it comes to parenting. In fact, I believe that you can’t be a good, responsible, conscientious parent without understanding that the job of being a parent and raising a child is about as abstract and inexact as it gets in life. It all depends on the individual child you are raising and making the best of the circumstances in that child’s life. Therefore, I had to approach this question in very general terms. My goal here is to explain what has worked best for me and my family and I hope that you’ll be able to glean something that translates in your own life and with your own family. When I think about the most important things I’ve done for my daughter and our family, two things stand out above all others. The first one has to be the fact that, from the moment I knew about her, I have put my daughter first, before every single other thing in my life. One thing you learn as a parent is that every other parent says that they put their child first. As my daughter has grown up and I’ve gotten to know more families, it’s been illuminating to realize how few people actually understand what that means and live it out in their daily lives. Parenthood is one of the few things in life that you can’t fake or bullshit. Putting your child above all else is a way of life and an all-consuming mentality. If it’s not real and full, it will show in the actions you take and how you spend your time. When I became a dad, this new mentality presented me with – what I thought at the time was – a rather frightening conundrum. See, up to that point, my life’s obsession was music. I assumed that my new life as a father would inevitably and unquestionably take away from my life as a musician and music fan. That was terrifying to think about. Not only was I unable to fathom any sort of reduction of music’s role in my life, I was also scared to death of the thought of loving something more than music. As far as unknowns go, that one was about as scary as they come for me. Like many people, I made the ignorant mistake of assuming that love is something that has limited space in a person’s life. It didn’t take long after my daughter was born for me to realize how wonderfully wrong I was about that. The fact of the matter is that there is always room for more love in your life. My love for my daughter always surpasses and supersedes my love for music but, at the same time, it’s not a contest. On the contrary, to see how the two have coexisted and supported each other over the past seven years has been one of the greatest joys of my life. Realizing all of this led me to the second important thing I’ve done for my daughter, which is to make sure that I am taking care of myself and making time for the things I am passionate about. This is a piece of advice that most parents hear quite frequently. It’s a tricky thing, though. Far too many parents take this to mean that what’s best for them is best for their child, which is pretty far from the point. This only works if you start by truly putting your child first. My daughter always has first dibs in terms of my time and priorities. However, that just means that I’ve had to become creative and explore new ways to enjoy my life with music, which has been its own wonderful experience. I do this not only because it makes me feel happy and fulfilled, but also because I honestly feel I owe it to my daughter to do so. Considering all the amazing experiences and memories that I have because of music, what could be better to pass on to her? This has been a hugely rewarding goal throughout my daughter’s life. She loves music, and not just like a typical kid who enjoys moving to a fun groove. To her, music is something to be explored and treasured. At age 7, she asks unprompted questions about music history and genres. Her eyes light up in transfixed amazement when I tell her the stories of all the music I love and how I discovered everything. I can’t say where this will go or exactly what effect it will have on my daughter. And, believe me, I get plenty of things wrong as a dad. But I feel pretty certain I’m doing something right with how I’ve blended fatherhood with my love of music. She is clearly a kid who has a creative mind and music has given her a perfect channel through which she can begin to understand what things like creativity and expression mean to her. Maybe music isn’t your thing. Whatever it is, if you’re putting your child or children first, I have to believe that pursuing your passions and sharing that with your kids will be just as rewarding for your family as it is for mine.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Through no one’s fault or error, I didn’t come from a very musical family when I was growing up. That being the case, when it became clear that music was what I loved and what I wanted to do more than anything, it was hard for me to get my family to buy into it as something real and legit. I was that classic case of the kid whose parents told him that music was nice, but I should focus more on realistic pursuits. That was tough for me because the only thing that I love as much as music is my family. So for most of my life, the two had to be kept separate. I had to find my own way as a musician and an artist. I felt like I couldn’t share that life with my family the way I wanted to because no one else really understood the way that I needed them to. I don’t think I fully realized it at the time, but part of the point in creating Johnny Romero & The Family was that I didn’t want or need to separate family and music any longer. From now on, they go hand-in-hand. Naturally, this idea applies to my wife and daughter, first and foremost. However, it also extends to a group of close friends who I consider to be Family. My life as an artist has provided me with friends who are similarly passionate and hardworking when it comes to creativity. We encourage each other and we feed off of each other’s productivity and growth. Johnny Romero & The Family isn’t just a band and it isn’t just about my nuclear family. It’s about the Family of friends and creative minds that I am blessed to be a part of. I write and play music because I love to do those things and also because I see that as my role in this Family.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m an East Side guy and I’d want to show my best friend what I love most about LA, so I’d start with a night out in Highland Park and Eagle Rock. We could get dinner at the food trucks and stands along York Boulevard on Friday night and then hit a few of the bars on Figueroa in Highland Park. Guaranteed to be a fun night. I’d want to my friend to have at least one distinctly SoCal music experience, so I’d look for a concert at either the Hollywood Bowl, The Forum, or The Greek. Our dining itinerary would have to include a stop at Grand Central Market and I would have to insist on a sandwich from PBJLA. For some culture, I would take them to the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens, one of my favorite places in the world. I would also make sure to reserve at least one day for a hike, preferably at the Bridge to Nowhere trail. Lastly, because I’m a giant nerd and a big kid at heart, my friend is coming to Disneyland with me.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
First and foremost is my drummer and dear friend, AJ Brown. In addition to being a talented drummer and musician, he’s a health and fitness coach and works as a personal trainer in Los Angeles. You can find him on Instagram at @brownystraining. Also have to give a shoutout to Sherry Younge (@sherryyounge), Jazmin Hicks (@jazminhicks), and all the other wonderful and talented people at The Artform Studio (@the_artform_studio) in Highland Park. I’ve known Sherry and Jazmin for a couple years and they – along with their cast of teammates and coworkers – do some pretty wonderful creative work out of the Artform Studio.
The photos with my wife and daughter are by Jazmin Hicks. The photos of me or my band playing live are by Erin Perez. The photos of me and my band or me playing guitar are by Monica Semayoa.