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Penn State Alum Sonny Dayes Releases Debut Indie Rock Album

One Penn State graduate is emerging into the indie rock music scene through meaningful, passionate lyrics that describe his life journey.

Stephen Sheetz, who is better known as “Sonny Dayes,” is a 2018 Penn State alum who earned a degree in chemical engineering. He landed a job in Philadelphia working as a manufacturing engineer through a Penn State career fair.

During his time at Penn State, Dayes interned at the Penn State Morning Star Solar Home on campus and had a plot in the adjacent community garden. He said he’s always been invested in the fight against climate change but was planning to pursue another passion: music.

After working for more than a year post-graduation, he quit his job and became fully invested in making music. Dayes recently released his debut album, “Enjoy The Rain,” to all streaming platforms.

“I was dead-set on finish college, get a job [and] make music,” Dayes said.

Dayes realized he could chase his passion during an internship in New Zealand at the University of Waikato. There, he met a new friend, James Forte, who was also pursuing music and ultimately convinced him that he could do it for real.

Upon quitting his job, Dayes took advantage of the Philadelphia music scene and got to work. He originally wanted to be in a band and perform cover songs at local restaurants and bars in the area.

It wasn’t until getting advice from a worker at a local guitar shop that he realized it would be more rewarding if he could write and produce his own music.

“He said that songwriting is more difficult and you have a risk involved that you’re not going to come up with anything,” Dayes said. “But at the end of the day, it is much more valuable as an artist.”

From there, he began his songwriting process. Although it was challenging at first, he found consistency made it much easier.

“When it comes to writing, you have to have an abundance mindset,” Dayes said. “You need to have that trust that it’s not going to be a waste of time.”

Even though the first few songs he wrote weren’t the greatest, he still found joy in perfecting his craft and is grateful to have songs to look back on and enjoy.

After spending four months writing songs for his debut album, Dayes spent all summer of 2020 recording at his home studio. Then, he spent late summer and all of the fall mixing and mastering his project.

His nine-song album takes the listener on Dayes’ personal journey through “vibrant love, emotional heartbreak, and healing self-love.” It features keyboard player Dom Coppa of BABLS and his New Zealand friend, James Forte.

It wasn’t until he wrote the final lyric of his outdo in “You Say You Love Me” that he came up with the record’s title. The lyrics are, “but I can still enjoy the rain without your stare.”

“It’s definitely a breakup and recovery album,” Dayes said. “But the essence in recovery is just enjoying the joy in life without that person with me.”

The cover art for the album also has a strong connection with the songs that ties everything together. It’s an unfinished painting given to him by his ex-girlfriend.

“It being unfinished carries a deeper meaning that we will never become what we wanted to be,” Dayes said. “Those two people suspended in joy forever, but the memory of the happiness we shared is still there and is still beautiful.”

Dayes recently started writing his second album, which he’s marketing himself to a record label. He picked up a job with Suntuity Solar to continue his passion for the environment as well as support his up-and-coming musical career.

To help promote his album, Dayes got creative on his Instagram account and starting posting weekly segments of “Sunsets with Sonny.” In these videos, he tells his fans stories of songs and life while also keeping them updated along his journey.

Dayes also released his first-ever music video for the song “63 Degrees,” which can be viewed here.

After working nonstop for a year writing, producing, playing, and promoting his album, Days said he has found everything he’s done rewarding and is happy with what he’s accomplished.

“If I had to change anything, I wouldn’t change anything,” Dayes said. “I’m grateful for where I am right now, and I think I wouldn’t want to change the way I learned.”

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About the Author

Tobey Prime

Tobey is a sophomore studying broadcast journalism from Lancaster, PA. He is a major Pittsburgh sport's fan, and Miami Heat fanatic. When Tobey isn't writing for Onward, you can catch him looking at photos of his pugs. Send your best insults to primetobey@gmail.com or sports takes to @tobey_prime on Twitter.

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