Photos by Stasia de Tilly
Sophie Allison, better known as Soccer Mommy released a two song 7 “, Last Girl / Be Seeing You on this month. The NYC-via-Nashville bedroom-pop musician has been drawing back the curtain on her life since her 2016 Orchid Tapes release For Young Hearts. Soccer Mommy lives in an NYU dorm off of Union Square. Her small body of film photographs rouses thoughts of life back in Nashville. She sips a La Croix on her unmade bed where her guitar and amp rest, ready for any stroke of inspiration. Allison has been releasing music as Soccer Mommy on BandCamp since the summer of 2015. Allison opened up about all things Soccer Mommy and how her music has developed the vulnerable-indie-pop/rock sound that we hear on this most recent release.
How did you get into music?
Soccer Mommy: I’ve been playing music since I was five. I went to a Riders in the Sky show for my brother’s pre-school, it was a benefit concert or some shit. I got a guitar there that was autographed because I was like ‘it looks cool’. After that I started taking guitar lessons. I went to an arts high school after that. And then I started Soccer Mommy the summer after graduating high school and before college, just doing stuff on BandCamp.
Tell me about the singles you just released.
SM: I like them a lot. We recorded them in August 2016. I was about to go back to school and leave the person I was hooking up with and dating at the time. As you know we stayed together in the end. It’s been almost a year now. They were songs that meant a lot to me at the time. “Last Girl” is about being insecure, as always. Someone described it as jealous. I guess it’s kind of jealous but it’s more like “I get it, she’s so cool”. Whenever I like a guy, if I see any girl he’s ever dated or been into I’m like “wow she’s beautiful and…I get it. I am dirt. She is a beautiful goddess and I am a peasant in her world. I’m fucking awkward.” It’s not at all like a fuck-her feeling it’s more like I wish I could hang out with her too. Why are you even hanging out with me?
“Be Seeing You” is about ending something with someone. Clearly it worked out better for me because now I have a boyfriend, because I trapped him.
Did your genre come about organically? Compared to the music you were making in high school?
SM: I was writing pop songs. I think they were catchy, they were fine. I wrote “Switzerland” in high school. It was similar but it wasn’t as genred or produced in any way. It wasn’t as fully developed either. I don’t think it was fully my feelings. It was kinda kitschy. I think instead of catchy pop songs, now I write how I feel. In high school I also started listening to experimental and independent music which kind of developed my taste a little bit more. I delved into that and it definitely affected my writing style, even melodically.
Are there any artist that contributed to that transformation?
SM: Mitski, always Mitski. Mitski is my favorite, ever. Bury Me at Make Out Creek, I would say Bully too. Even though I don’t sound at all like Bully. Being in Nashville, she was one of the few female artists playing where people were like “wow, she’s so good.” That pushed me to want to make my own music also because she produced a lot of her stuff. I like Alex G a lot, Orchid Tapes. I like Leonard Cohen a lot, Joni Mitchell.
Do you see any differences between the Nashville indie scene and the New York indie scene?
SM: It’s a very boy run place. Not that there are no women playing. It’s just a lot of punk music for one thing. It’s still working on being more diverse for sure, so that was discouraging. It’s not that I was actively thinking that no one would even listen to my music, but I didn’t think that I could start a band and play music. If I did, people wouldn’t think it was great, people would think “oh this is stupid pop.”
Once I started Soccer Mommy I needed to come to New York to release stuff with Orchid Tapes. It was easier to release the kind of music I was releasing in New York. To see that positive reaction and then go back to Nashville… I thought that in Nashville no one would pay attention anyways so it didn’t matter. But people are into it, they really like it. There are younger girls that enjoy it too, which is something that make me happy.
Is there a specific intention with your music or is it more of an expression of yourself?
SM: It’s the only way I can express myself. I’m very non-confrontational. I don’t address problems in real life which is why most of my music is about me feeling shitty because of dudes. I don’t say it in real life but in music I can say it without it being direct.
How has your experience been as a woman in music?
SM: It’s hard, I’ve experienced a lot of it. But everyone’s “best of” list this year had Angel Olsen or Mitski. It’s definitely harder for women but I feel like they do better because of that. Yeah… dudes are just weird about it. They don’t say anything outwardly like “you suck at music” but instead are like “woah, you’re like so much cooler than all these other people.”
There’s weird stuff on the internet too, nothing super sexual just slightly weird. There’s a lot of X-Files stuff. I’ve gotten comments about me looking like Scully. I don’t think I look like her that much. It’s just that photo where I have short red hair. There’s a Reddit thread that says “For Young Hearts feels like songs teenage Dana Scully would have written for teenage Fox Mulder.” In what way? It’s just the “I want to believe” album cover that make people think of all these connections.
You have a pretty active voice on social media and you interact with a lot of different people in the scene.
SM: Yeah, I love using twitter. People like the weirdest shit I tweet too. I tweeted something that I thought was so funny, a Benedict Cumberbatch St. Patrick’s day meme and it got one like in two hours. So I deleted it. Then I tweet something like ‘boys suck’ and it will get 50 likes. They want me to be the sad girl not the girl who makes sex jokes. I like twitter because I know if I go on and I tweet something kind of self-deprecating, then a bunch of people will like it which will make me feel like I don’t look like an idiot.
Do you feel boxed into the sad-girl thing because of your music?
SM: Partially, people definitely like my sad girl stuff on twitter, but people also know me in person. I’m clearly not crying all the time. Also, the single I released was more indie rock. It only sounds more sad because I’m recording with drums instead of it being recorded with a brush because my microphone can’t handle playing actual drums. “Benadryl Dreams“ would be a rock song if it had drums. But people are into the indie rock thing. I was kinda worried about it but people seem to like the singles a lot. It’s much more rock-y but I don’t think I’ve left behind the sad girl either because sad music is awesome. I think lyrics that aren’t vulnerable are stupid anyways, that’s why I love Taylor Swift. I can listen to Dear John and be like “she is going in.” I think it makes the most relatable content. Even if people don’t understand my lyrics they still like the song and so clearly it touches them in some way. It captures a feeling that people understand.
What has your experience been like going from being independent to working with Orchid Tapes?
SM: It was really good. The tapes Warren made were beautiful, the mastering was beautiful, everyone loved the album. It was great. Warren’s great and his music is too. Then he put me on a comp too, with some of the coolest artists at the time. Before that I was just releasing it on BandCamp. I was making my own tapes and giving them away for free. Both For Young Hearts and being on Orchid got people interested in me. It got blogs I would have never imagined would be interested in me. That MTV write up, I was like “what the fuck is happening? Why are you listening to my music?” And now I’m working on another thing.
So what’s coming next for Soccer Mommy?
SM: Next is gonna be a little mini album. It’s gonna be 8 songs with some new stuff and some old stuff. I’m working on some vids for a new song and an old one. I love putting out music, I don’t like keeping it hidden.