The Sonic Haven
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The Sonic Haven

Irvine, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2019

Irvine, California, United States
Established on Jan, 2019
Duo Rock Folk




"Interview with Midnight Metal Magazine"

Midnight Metal Magazine recently had a chance to ask folk rock duo The Sonic Haven some questions. Read below to see the entire interview.

What inspired you to start making music?

Sarah: I've been enamored with music since I could talk and drove my brothers crazy with my constant singing. When I was 15, I finally got a guitar, taught myself to play, and immediately started writing songs. I was inspired by the way all of these artists could write songs about things completely disconnected from me that somehow managed to connect and resonate with me and so many other people. I loved the way music made me feel like I wasn't alone in how I felt and I wanted to make other people feel that too. Life, however,--as it does--kept me pretty busy and songwriting took a bit of a back burner for a while. This past year, Trevor and I were really feeling the itch to get back at it, so we reached out to a local friend, Ed, who was heavily involved in the local Blues Society, and asked him for ideas on where to connect with the local music scene. He gave some great recommendations and then, as chance would have it, a local music loving brewery, Fretboard, started having an open mic and Ed sent us the info. We showed up and immediately connected with the host. This lit the fire under us that led to us writing more than a dozen songs over the course of the summer, finishing and reworking some old ones that we had started, and recording our debut EP. So I guess it really just comes down to the feeling of connection and community that music brings that really inspired us to make music of our own.

Trevor: Music has always been a major part of my life since taking up instruments in my teenage years. I played in a few bands prior to The Sonic Haven and there's always something special about making and creating your own music. Like any art, there's an expression of yourself, your experiences, or your message and I find that's an incredibly fulfilling experience.

Is there any meaning behind your band name?

Sarah: Music has always provided this sort of sanctuary for me. A sort of safe place where I can explore all the feelings I'm feeling and all the questions I have and maybe not find answers, but always feel safe in this exploration. We wanted our music to embody that feeling and allow others a safe place to feel connected and understood. A safe haven, if you will. With this in mind we decided on the name "The Sonic Haven", quite literally indicating that our music is a safe place for us and our community.

Trevor: Yes, I think for me it has two meanings. On the surface it kind of means music is a our "happy place" but I also think there's a much deeper meaning in that there is empathy through music. Whatever is going on in your life or whatever you're feeling, you can always find music that relates to that. Whether you're feeling happy, sad, or mad, there's always a song out there that fits and relates to that. And because you can always turn to music as a sort of safe place to recognize and be okay with how you are feeling. And to me that's empathy in its truest form and hence to me, music is a sonic haven.

What's your songwriting process?

Sarah: Our process can start in a lot of different ways. For me, it can start with any small thing--a phrase, a melody, an idea, a chord progression, a rhythm--that gets stuck in my head (usually in the middle of the night). I take whatever it is and try to build on it. So for a phrase, I'll try to expand on the idea to create a narrative that could be a song. For a chord progression or a melody, I'll think about the feeling it's giving me and usually a phrase or concept starts to stick out and I'll build on that. It's all kind of a piecework building process where I take what I have and just try to stretch it out into a full narrative from whatever small idea it is. I also, much to Trevor's chagrin, love to play a chord progression over and over repeatedly until I figure out what I want to say with it.

Trevor: Our song writing process varies from song to song. Sometimes it starts with a melody line and lyrics from Sarah, or it starts with me plucking out a riff or chords on a guitar. From there, its a trial and error building process that sometimes is very quick or very very long. Once we have the lyrics and chords worked out, we try to perform it out and make changes on how things go. The drums and cello parts on Us Again were also partially written by us and other parts we collaborated with some Cincinnati friends-Michael Ronstadt and Josh Owings. So it's an incredibly different process for each song. I sometimes wish it were a more formulaic creation process for efficiency sake but hey, that variability gives each song its own unique character.

Are there any musicians you'd like to collaborate with in the future?

Sarah: Honestly, we'd love to collaborate with anyone. Working with other musicians always brings out a different side to you and your music and really stretches you to get out of your comfort zone, which, I think, pushes your music to new levels. If I had the pick of anyone to collaborate with, Switchfoot, Brandi Carlile, and Twenty One Pilots would be at the top of my list.

Trevor: Well I'd love to collaborate with John Rzeznik and the Goo Goo Dolls. They were a big influence for me in high school and college and his use of alternate tunings I picked up directly from learning their songs and still use those tunings to this day. And of course, just being able to jam with Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin would be a dream come true. Switchfoot and Twenty One Pilots would also be awesome because they both have such broad and diverse music.

What is an average day like for you?

Sarah: My average day starts with making breakfast for our three kids and packing lunches for our two younger kids. Then I spend the day running the children to their schools, homeschooling our oldest, picking up the younger two, and taking care of whatever errands and business needs to be taken care of during the day. Some days I get a chance to work on songs or work on my musicianship during the day, some days I don't. There's usually some sort of park or outdoor activity worked in during the afternoon or evening. We eat supper (with or without Trevor depending on his schedule). After the kids are in bed, Trevor and I work on music together--either practicing songs or working on new ones. Not the most exciting day I guess.

Trevor: An average day is pretty chaotic for me. I am a practicing anesthesiologist at a busy medical center which takes up most of my week. When not at work, Sarah and I are raising three young boys who are in overdrive 24/7. It borders on chaos. When not busy with them, we're usually working on music or out trying to work the local scene.

Have you ever dealt with performance anxiety?

Sarah: Definitely. I get nervous before every single performance. I always have. Often to the point that I start to feel sick. I find that although I still get nervous before, the more I play, the less nervous I am on stage. It all sort of melts away once I'm playing my songs and connecting with people. I don't really have any special tricks to get through it other than taking deep breaths and just pushing through.

Trevor: Sometimes I get nerves that take a song or two to relax from when performing but otherwise I would say I don't really have an issue with performance anxiety. I've always performed in bands and had a guitar or bass that would channel my focus. Although with that said, I do try to rehearse my parts into such muscle memory that if I do have some anxiety or have a "hiccup" it's easy to keep my focus.

What is your favorite part about being musicians? You're least favorite? Why?

Sarah: I love getting to express things that are on my mind and know that other people are connecting to those same feelings. It has always given me that sense of not being alone in this universe. My least favorite part about being a musician is having to navigate the business side. Being an artist, I like to just sort of do my creative thing and not worry too much about the consumption of it. But to really be successful/financially sustainable, you really have to dive into the whole business side and branding and social media marketing and lots of things that I just find to be not all that fun.

Trevor: My favorite part of being a musician is being out performing and meeting other musicians. Some of the best and closest friends I have had in my life are people I have met playing music and they are friendships that last a lifetime. To me its a community. It seems like there are no acquaintances or colleagues in music-everyone's a potential friend. I also enjoy the recording and engineering process because I'm a nerd and loving learning about playing all the sounds. My least favorite part is probably the logistical and administrative stuff. Its like anything in life, you can't want something to happen and then expect it to happen, you have to make it happen. You've got to put in all this effort into non musical work to get yourself and music out there. I am very lucky that Sarah has a ton of experience in this stuff from her photography business and has really done amazing things with getting us a website, getting our music on the web, expanding our social media and connecting with the local scene all while keeping it organized. Kudos to her!

Anything else you'd like to let us know?

We really appreciate you taking the time to interview us. We have to make a shameless plug for our EP-Us that is coming out January 24th.

A big thank you to The Sonic Haven for taking the time to answer these questions. Be sure to check them out at and follow them on all their social media so you don't miss out on any future updates. - Midnight Metal Magazine


Still working on that hot first release.



If Switchfoot and Jewel had a musical baby, it would be this husband and wife folk rock duo. Hailing from Irvine, California, Sarah and Trevor Whitwell mix influences from rock, folk, pop, and country to explore burning questions about life, meaning, love, hope, belonging, and loss. Always seeking to discover and learn new things, they find inspiration in a number of places and from a variety of artists including Switchfoot, Led Zeppelin, Goo Goo Dolls, Jewel, Twenty One Pilots, and Brandi Carlile. They strive to create a sense of family and connection in their musical community.

Band Members