Sara Sonic is a rare breed in the populace of the Bay Area. The keyboardist for pop rock band WATERS and singer/keyboardist for indie rock band The Tambo Rays, has become an anomaly in an area recently overrun by tech companies, high rise apartments and wealthy investors. It’s uncommon to actually meet someone born and raised in the Bay Area, let alone an artist gutsy enough to follow their dreams and be able to keep it their home.
Sonic spent half her life living in Oakland and grew up across the Golden Gate Bridge in Kentfield, Marin. “It was this weird secluded area,” Sonic confessed, “I spent a lot of time by myself in my room where I got this concept of tinkering with things…I tried getting into guitar and was going to lessons but it was always like ‘what song do you want to play?’ I didn’t care to figure out how to play other people’s songs.” Sara’s knack for tinkering came in handy when her brother, Brian, introduced her to a program called Fruity Loops. “We were basically making techno beats. That was my first touches with actually making music that wasn’t just playing someone else’s song.”
When Sara entered high school, music took a back seat as her focus shifted to pursuing soccer. She attended college, playing soccer until her senior year where a harsh reality sunk in. “I realized there is no career in soccer. That was sad because I spent a lot of time playing the sport. A lot of my teammates went abroad to play soccer. I also had a shitty soccer coach. I’m like a wild child on the field. I’m not very stern and that pissed my coach off. I quit my senior year because it wasn’t good for me emotionally and I went to Burning Man instead.”
“It’s too competitive and I realized I hate competition. I think everyone can win at this game called life.”
Post soccer, Sara’s musical career started to develop when she took a trip to Copenhagen and ended up downloading the program Ableton. “College happened and I was always really interested in making music on the computer but it was hard for me to find the information, so I slowly started accumulating things.” As things progressed, her brother Brian started a band called The Tambo Rays and needed people. “I had no idea how to keep a beat. I had to relearn how to play music. That’s when I started experimenting with guitars and keyboards.”
As The Tambo Rays started to emerge in the Bay Area music scene, they opened up for another local band named WATERS where the bands “fell in love with each other.” This inevitably led to a new opportunity for Sara Damert, Brian DaMert and Greg Sellin of The Tambo Rays to combine forces, performing with WATERS.
While juggling both bands, Sara has achieved great successes on personal and professional levels. WATERS had an amazing 2015, releasing the EP “It All Might Be OK” followed by performances at Outside Lands and the Conan O’Brien show. “Playing Outside Lands was huge for me,” Sonic reminisces. “I grew up in the Bay Area and it was definitely a big deal. Kids from my high school were in the crowd. Another huge thing that happened was we played on Conan and I got to meet Ringo Starr.” While WATERS achieved some national success, Sonic stayed humbled and dedicated to The Tambo Rays. “It is different,” Sara concedes, “I’m the lead singer (on the new record) which is a big change of all the directions of what I’ve been doing. Trying to get the band to sound like one sound. We’re like a local band. We haven’t gone touring at all.”
Another glaring difference, aside from the aesthetics of sound, is that she writes with her brother in The Tambo Rays. “I’m sassy in Waters. In The Tambo Rays I get more emotional.” So how do siblings, who are also housemates, co-exists without flaring egos and brother-sister clashes? “We both want each other to be successful. It’s hard to let our ego get in the way of our happiness…2015 was an emotional year for my family, our father passed away so all the feelings of his passing are intertwined in the making of this EP. It’s personal, but I hope uplifting.”
2016 seems to be a promising year for Sara with a new record by The Tambo Rays already in pre-production stages, a small west coast tour with WATERS and new songs in the works, a budding solo career and an increasing penchant for cooking. “It would be a dream of mine to one day to own a restaurant,” says Sonic. “Music is just one part of who I am.” For now, the music world is lucky she is sharing that side of her.
Catch The Tambo Rays January 18th at the Great American Music Hall with Go! Team. Sara Sonic will also be doing a solo show at Neck of the Woods January 22nd, and WATERS will be performing at Slim’s on February 12th.