How Sammy Rae & The Friends Are Evolving on Tour
The singer songwriter reflects on the present state of the band's career and expresses hopes for the future of their music.
How has the last year changed you, both as a creator and as a person?
Before the pandemic lockdown, we were relatively new to touring. We are incredibly grateful for an enormous uptick of engagement with our music and our mission statement during 2020. When we were able to start playing shows again in 2021, there was an enormous demand for large rooms outside of New York City, and we found ourselves facing a really hefty touring schedule. Traveling so much in the past year has taught me a great deal about myself, both as a performer and an artist. I have learned to live small, and live simply. I have learned to live in healthy community with my band members and crew members. I have learned to listen to my body, advocate for my needs and personal space, but also share space with and love on strangers from all around the world. I struggle to know how to effectively express my gratitude for all of this goodness, and I do my best to make eye contact and say thank you with enough earnest. People tell me that my Music changed their lives, but their lives have changed my music. I am a new person because of their support, and I work daily to feel like I deserve all of that. I owe everything to them.
What has been the biggest moment of your life so far?
Wow, what a question. I mean it was big when my little brother was born. It was big when I fell in love for the first time. It was big when I signed my first record contract. In recent memory, a big moment was when we played a sold out crowd in a dream venue in our hometown. Walking on stage in front of 2000 people a Brooklyn Steel was dream coming true. I never finished college, and playing that show felt like a major graduation moment. We had graduated from the really hard early stages of musicianship, playing unpaid gigs and hoping that 25 people would show up etc. We entered Rockstarhood Lite, I guess. It was over a month ago and I’m still unpacking, glowing, and learning from that experience.
What’s one thing you hope never changes?
The attitude we have in our band and the love we have for one another, that’s some thing I hope never changes. We meditate very often on ideas of longevity and sustainability, which informs the way we talk about our dreams and our futures, care for each other, and push each other to continuously grow. We have a deep respect for one another, and love each other like a group of siblings just traveling through the world doing what they love next to each other. We are grateful for that, and I pray that we can always hold onto the hope and drive we have now. The ‘Great idea, but we don’t have the means for it now. Keep that idea and we’ll do it in five years’ attitude. I hope we maintain our sense of family as well. I don’t have other peers that I consider family. When I dream about my future wedding, my bridesmaids are the five boys in this band.
What does it mean to be a creator in today’s world?
In my opinion, to be a creator with any sort of platform or visibility is to have a great deal of responsibility. If people are looking at you, lots of people, and you are not advocating for things that are important to you in those around you, you shouldn’t have a platform. Of course, we are allowed to make art for ourselves. But with so much going on in the world today, I strongly feel that it is our responsibility to use our talents and resources as active members of society. I owe a lot to our audience. I only get to do the thing I love for a living because of their generosity and support. They deserve music that speaks to them. I’ve gotten to know them a lot through touring this last year, and I like who they are. They are the sort of people I want to advocate for, and I want to make art that lifts them up.
What’s next for you?
We are getting ready to release a new single, and record a few additional tunes for an eventual EP. We are eager for our first bus tour, and a full month out on the road in March. We hope to dream up some music videos, make a docu-peice about our bus experience, and reinvent the live show for the spring 2022 run. As always, we continue to search for ways to better ourselves. I’m excited for some deep self-care and reflection this winter as I try to hold all of the magic that 2021 brought me.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I’d like to have at least two full length albums under my belt. I’d like to tour every continent in the next ten years, buy a house and land somewhere I love, start a family. Keep on making music (I’d like to get really killing at piano and banjo). I dream about branching into new art forms like children’s music and television, which is something I’ve always been fascinated by. Maybe write a book about dropping out of college and forming a band and community as a young, queer, femme artist in New York City. But I never want to stop touring. Not until I’m fully gray and can’t leap into the air onstage and land on both knees. In ten years, I hope to be sitting in a big giant lake somewhere planning my outfits out for my upcoming world tour. Then I want to get out of the lake and cook myself a meal in my big giant kitchen and call my dad and tell him I got nominated for another Grammy. Then I want to sleep hard in my big giant bed and wake up and have the tour bus pick me up in my driveway. Then I want to go play for a big giant room full of wonderful people, just like I get to do tonight. Cheers from the green room in Chicago, by the way!
This feature is part of our Trailblazers to Follow 2021 campaign, which is honoring artists, actors, and internet personalities that are changing the game. You can visit our Trailblazers portal for more interviews.